Cassandra Turk, mother to Cecilia, a former GB boccia squad member, has become one of the sport’s most admired officials, acquiring the skill to stay in her daughter’s world – but never as a spectator. Here she tells their story...

Cecilia’s first win was at the Junior National Competition in 1999. Sadly both her dad, Mervyn, and I were not with her as Mervyn had just suffered a heart attack.

Her win was dedicated to him and was featured in the local press. It certainly was onward and upwards to this present day. 

Ce was selected for the England Squad 2001 and that’s where I became ‘hooked’. I was a ramp assistant for Toby Hewson and Lee Hamblyn, who were England players at the time. This led on to my becoming England Manager a few years later.

In 2000, Ce qualified for a place in the British Championships in Scotland; I was a spectator.  The GB Manager at the time handed me a bat and said ‘can you referee a match?’ I was quickly ushered on to court and from that day I became a referee.

Over the next 11 years, as Ce progressed from England to GB, I continued my journey refereeing. In 2011, I sat my International Referee Course and the rest is history. 



My biggest regret in supporting Ce is that I never watch her matches. If I am attending as an Official, my remit is to remain impartial and indeed neutral. Therefore, I do not and cannot be there in the spectator area or even when I am on a court adjacent to hers, I never face her court or look at the score. This explains why I become very emotional when she wins a medal!

The end of a competition day is the time for us to sit and go through her day and her results. I listen, applaud, encourage and move on to the next day. When I am Head Referee, I do sign the scoresheet - but keep myself away from her till the end. If I get called onto court to address a situation, I try to send the assistant head ref. However, there are times when it has been down to me to go on court, but I still do not look at the scoreboard! 

After being too emotional to watch, the hugs and kisses are there at the end of the Competition, of course. If, however, Ce has medalled, it is tears of joy and then I am an emotional wreck which can be confirmed by Boccia England reps! A mother’s love manifests itself in so many ways.

I am so very proud of Ce -  she has gone far beyond my wildest dreams. She has such passion and determination to continue and even when times look bleak on the ranking front she somehow bounces back and I am left overwhelmed. 

In my heart, of course I am with Ce every step of the way. I am immensely proud of what she has achieved as an athlete, especially that she is still as committed as the day she aspired to winning her first medal. I will continue to wave the flag and cheer her on, but only in spirit and certainly not visually. Cecilia knows just how much I am rooting for her in every match. I am just too emotional to watch.