Helen Rollason

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Helen Rollason MBE
Helen Rollason in approximately 1993.jpg
Helen Rollason in 1993
Born Helen Frances Rollason
(1956-03-11)11 March 1956
England, United Kingdom
Died 9 August 1999(1999-08-09) (aged 43)
Brentwood, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Journalist, presenter, newsreader
Notable credit(s) Grandstand
BBC Six O'Clock News

Helen Frances Rollason MBE (11 March 1956 - 9 August 1999) was a British sports journalist and television presenter.

Early life[edit]

Born 11 March 1956, Helen Rollason was an adopted child.[1] She was born in London, grew up in Bath and studied at Chelsea School of Physical Education, Eastbourne and Dalhousie University, in Canada. She worked as a PE teacher, was a member of TeamBath Athletics Club, and played hockey at county level.[2]

Broadcasting career[edit]

In 1980 Rollason became deputy sports editor for Radio Essex.[1] After a spell as a freelance sports producer and presenter, Rollason became a co-presenter of the children's news show Newsround in 1986, and she began presenting athletics coverage on Channel 4 in 1987.[1] In 1990, she joined BBC Sport and presented from the 1990 Commonwealth Games. On 19 May 1990, Rollason became the first female presenter of Grandstand though she only presented a handful of further editions, in the summers of 1990 and 1991. Also in 1990 Rollason presented tennis coverage from Eastbourne and Wimbledon, and, in August 1990, she replaced David Icke as the main anchor of Sport on Friday and continued to present it until 1997. Rollason presented coverage of the 1990 World Disabled Games, as well as the 1992 Winter Olympics and the 1996 Summer Olympics, as well as being the BBC's principal presenter of the 1996 Paralympics. Rollason presented her last edition of Grandstand in 1993 and was passed over as presenter of the 1992 Summer Olympics. She specialised in coverage of athletics and, from 1994, yachting, but also covered swimming and golf, and also presented the sports news on BBC Breakfast News.[1] In August 1997, it was announced that Rollason was suffering from colon cancer. In May 1999, following the relaunch of BBC News, Rollason became the sports presenter of the BBC Six O'Clock News on Fridays, and the following month she was made an MBE for services to sport broadcasting and charities.[1]


Shortly before Rollason died she was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 1999 birthday honours for services to broadcasting and charities.[1] “I cried when I received the news,” she said. “I don’t feel I deserve it but I’m very thrilled that so many women are coming through in sport broadcasting now.” [3]

A Helen Rollason Award was set up at the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards [4] A Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration was set up by the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards.

The Helen Rollason Award presented at the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year show has become a highly prestigious and much respected award. It is widely seen as an honour and privilege to be recognized with this prize.

Personal life[edit]

She had a daughter, Nikki, with husband John; they later divorced.[1]

Cancer and death[edit]

In 1997, she was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, which later metastasised to her liver and lungs.[1] A 1998 documentary, Hope for Helen, followed her fight. Rollason became involved in charity work, raising £5 million for a cancer wing at North Middlesex hospital.[1] Rollason died on 9 August 1999 at the age of 43, in Brentwood, Essex.[1]

Helen Rollason Cancer Charity[edit]

HRCC logo.jpg

The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity was set up in her name. The charity funds and operates three cancer support centres – in Essex, Hertfordshire and London. Lord Coe is the charity's patron.[5]

The charity also funds a dedicated team of research nurses who care for cancer patients on trials of new cancer treatments at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford and North Middlesex University Hospital, London. [6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Helen Rollason: Presenter with fighting spirit". BBC News. 10 August 1999. Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "About Helen Rollason". Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  3. ^ > "About Helen Rollason". Retrieved 1 April 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ "BBC Sport Personality Helen Rollason Award". BBC News. 13 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Helen Rollason Heal Cancer Charity". Retrieved 10 April 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ Helen Rollason Cancer Charity website

External links[edit]