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Colette Thomson and Lord Bilimoria
Colette Thomson and University Chancellor, Lord Bilimoria

Colette Thomson MBE, Assistant Coach for the England U21 Netball Team, has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Birmingham.

Colette, who is a University of Birmingham alumna, has been coaching the U21s alongside Victoria Burgess since July 2021.

While a student, she was selected for the England U18 and subsequently into the U21 and the England National Netball team. Following graduation, she taught mathematics and PE at a school in Solihull before concentrating fully on mathematics and coaching the Premier League Linden Netball Club in her spare time.

Colette represented England as a player at four World Championships and two World Games, alongside a full-time teaching career, achieving 89 full International Caps.  She became part of the England Netball Coaching team in 2000 and was head coach at the 2005 World Youth Championships, where England won the Silver medal. As a result, she was awarded the UK Sports Coach of the year award. 

After over 30 years of teaching, Colette decided to coach netball full time, working with the England U21, Development groups and the National squad, now known as the Roses.  She has coached over 100 games at International level, including winning the Gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, a title the squad will be defending at the Birmingham2022 Commonwealth Games.

Presenting the honorary degree, Professor Catherine Needham said: “With the city of Birmingham hosting the next Commonwealth Games, at which the England Netball team will be the defending champions, we have an exciting time ahead for netball. It is a great honour to have one of its most esteemed athletes and coaches with us here today.”

Colette said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been given this honorary degree for something which has already given me so much pleasure.  Birmingham University started me in my coaching career over 40 years age,  which has enable me to experience so many challenges and successes, for which I will always be grateful.”

In 2018, Colette also received a lifetime achievement award from the University of Birmingham and in 2019 received similar recognition in the Sunday Times Sportswomen awards.  She was awarded an MBE for services to netball in 2014.

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