‘THE best night of my life’ is how a Milton Combe woman described being recognised by the very best of the British sporting world at a top award ceremony in London last week.

Trish Deykin, a triathlete who is the current double European Sprint Triathlon champion, was applauded by ‘female sporting royalty’ – including many Olympic champions – as she was presented with the ‘Helen Rollason award for inspiration’ at the prestigious Sunday Times ‘Sportswomen of the Year’ event held at the News Building in London.

Trish, who has reached the top of her chosen sport despite suffering for more than 14 years from Multiple Sclerosis, was chosen for the award named in honour of the late Helen Rollason, the first female to present BBC flagship sports programme Grandstand who fought a long battle with cancer, all the while while promoting sport.

An astounded Trish, who is 42, told Times Sport: ‘The world of sporting excellence was in the room and it was an absolute honour to be at such a prestigious event. The former world triathlon champion Non Stanford gave me the award while Jessica Ennis-Hill came running up to me afterwards and gave me a big hug like I was a long-lost friend!

‘I also met Victoria Pendleton, Dina Asher-Smith and track cyclist Katie Archibald. They are all such lovely people. There was a red carpet, string quartet and lots of champagne. It was the best night of my life and I keep having to pinch myself that I was part of it.’

Trish, who was nominated by her husband Nick, was completely ‘blown away’ that she was chosen from the 17 other worthy women finalists chosen by the panel. But judges were in no doubt that they had chosen the right sportswoman for the accolade.

Trish was a crime scene investigation officer in 2005 when she was diagnosed with MS. She was determined, though, not to allow the inflammatory disease, which attacks the brain and spinal cord, to rule her life and carried on in the police force, a job she loved, until 2012.

Trish took up athletics and within just seven years was crowned ITU World Triathlon champion in 2013. Incredibly she was then was forced to rest for the next two years after receiving chemotherapy but bounced back to take up competition again in 2016.

‘My chemotherapy is a new treatment for people with relapsing remitting MS. It works by shutting down the immune system so it can reboot itself, essentially like switching a computer off and on again.  You still put up with the old symptoms but the idea is to slow down the amount of relapses or new symptoms you have.  It doesn’t work for everybody but it has worked for me.  The problem is as it’s such a new treatment no one knows how long it lasts for.’

This year her extraordinary efforts continued when she became the double ETU European Sprint Triathlon champion.

Among the ‘SWOTY’ judges were Jessica Ennis-Hill, Rebecca Adlington, Kirsty Gallagher, Helen Glover, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Christine Ohuruogo and Eleanor Oldroyd.

Triple European champion track sprinter Dina Asher Smith was named the Sportswoman of the Year.

Trish was supported on the night by her husband Nick and their friends Richard and Selena Mollard.

A ‘gobsmacked’ Trish told Times Sport: ‘I enjoyed every second, it was an amazing night. I just couldn’t put it into words. When Jessica Ellis came over and gave me a hug it was unreal and I was so honoured when world triathlon champion Non Stafford presented me with the trophy.

‘This has all come completely out of the blue. I just can’t believe that somebody like me from a little village in Devon has won such a wonderful award.

‘That award night was all a bit of a dream. It was definitely the best night of my life!’