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Bridget Cannell cap presentation 01
 
Bridget Cannell's daughter, Tracy French, and son, Mike Cannell, received their mother's honours cap from former Great Britain internationals Jan Burrows (former England captain, second left) and Mary Eckersall (former England & GB captain, far right).

 

The Great Britain (GB) caps initiative – an ongoing project to recognize the achievements of current and former GB international players by awarding them honours caps – is a direct product of The Hockey Museum’s (THM) wider National Playing Statistics Project. It continues to uncover amazing and emotional stories.

Other articles can be found on our website (click here and here), but the most recent presentation was to the family of the late Bridget Cannell. Bridget was a member of the very first GB women’s team which toured the USA in 1965.

 

GBIITS SQUAD ON USA TOUR 1965
 

The Great Britain & Ireland Touring Team of 1965.

Back row: Jennie Braham (England); Joan Horne (Ireland); Maureen Short (E); Helen Weir (Scotland); Bridget Cannell (E); Thelma Hopkins (I); Valerie Sinclair (S).
Sitting: Mary Hyland (Wales); Janice Mitchell (S); Joyce Hunter (S); Mrs Hopkins, Manager (I); Nan Thomas (W); Ellen Toulson (E); Helen O’Neil (I).
Kneeling: Barbara Stacey (W); Janet Morgan (W).

 

Being a member of that first ever GB team made Bridget women’s GB player number 6. The next GB team was not formed until the late 1970s meaning she only ever won the two caps from that tour. She did win England caps in this era but that is another story entirely. The plot thickens further because originally this USA tour was not recorded in any British records. None of the British players who participated were recorded as having won international caps. On the other hand, the USA did count the games as full internationals and with THM compiling the GB match records as part of its statistics project, it seemed obvious that these matches had to be recognised.

Tracing all of the players from this 1965 tour has proved an interesting and as yet incomplete exercise, but we are getting there. Indeed, tracing all of the 581 men and women players who have ever represented GB hockey is a major task. We estimate that about 150 will have passed away and this is backed by actuarial tables. For those who have died we are endeavouring to make contact with their families and Bridget Cannell is a case in point.

Having made contact with Bridget’s daughter Tracy French, we looked to set up a presentation. Making the contact with Tracy was an amazing piece of detective work by Katie Dodd (ex Met Police!) who, supported by a number of THM’s other volunteers, used many contacts to track down Bridget’s family in Cumbria. Once the contact was made, Tracy and her family became very keen to see her mother honoured and her achievements remembered. With national Covid restrictions in place the event was held at Tracy’s home with her family, her brother and her aunt who was Bridget’s sister. We arranged for former GB international players Jan Burrows (former England captain) and Mary Eckersall (former England & GB captain) to attend and present the cap. Also in attendance were Tracy’s cousins who have played hockey in Windermere, so the hockey connection continues.

Sadly, the Cumbrian weather did not play its part on the day but an emotional and joyful presentation was not dampened. Jan and Mary were very pleased and proud to present the cap on behalf of Great Britain Hockey and THM; it is fair to say that the whole family were truly moved to receive Bridget’s cap. Jan and Mary had never met the family before the presentation but at the end of an amazing afternoon Mary said that she almost felt part of the Cannell family.

 

Bridget Cannell cap presentation 03      Bridget Cannell cap presentation 04
     
 From left to right: Jan Burrows, Tracy French, Tricia Mossop (Bridget Cannell's sister), and Mary Eckersall.   Not even inclement weather could dampen the spirits during a wonderful day celebrating Bridget Cannell's hockey achievements.

 

Tracy wrote to the Museum after the presentation:

“Yesterday was perfect. The gathering of a group of people to remember one person brings you all very close to the presence of who they were, perhaps even more so yesterday as I looked at Jan and Mary and saw determined women made with the same strength and resilience as Mum. The cap is beautifully made and will be treasured … This has been a delightful journey that kept our spirits up during Covid lockdown and started conversations about Mum that I wouldn’t have had.”

This whole story gives truth to the strength of the 'Hockey Family'. We now look forward to arranging the presentation of honours caps to Jan and Mary and to the hundreds of other GB players.

Bridget Cannell: One Of Great Britain's First Women's Players Honoured

21 May 2021
Bridget Cannell: One Of Great Britain's First Women's Players Honoured

  Bridget Cannell's daughter, Tracy French, and son, Mike Cannell, received their mother's honours cap from former Great Britain internationals Jan Burrows (former England captain, second left) and Mary Eckersall (former England & GB captain, far right).   The Great Britain (GB) caps initiative – an ongoing project to recognize...

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GB Honours Caps Awarded To Former Players

20 May 2021
GB Honours Caps Awarded To Former Players

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THM Welcomes New Trustees

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Dr Katie Dodd MBE

08 January 2021
Dr Katie Dodd MBE

The Hockey Museum (THM) is very proud to announce that its recent past Chair, Katie Dodd, has been awarded an MBE for services to hockey in the New Year’s Honours List.     Katie Dodd in action for England against Wales at Wembley in 1981. Katie has been involved in hockey...

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