English Rugby
Hignell honoured at BBC Sports Personality ceremony
December 15, 2008
Broadcaster and former England international Alistair Hignell poses for a photo during the Six Natiions match between Italy and England at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome, Italy on February 10, 2008.
Hignell strikes a familiar pose behind a microphone during the 2008 Six Nations © Getty Images

Former England international and renowned broadcaster Alastair Hignell has been named the 2008 recipient of BBC Sports Personality's Helen Rollason award.

The 53-year-old, who also played cricket for Gloucestershire, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and has since been heavily involved in awareness and fundraising.

"I feel so honoured to be named alongside the previous winners and Helen Rollason herself," Hignell told an audience of 9,000 people at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

Hignell, who was also the first Cambridge student to captain the university at both cricket and rugby union, made his last commentary for BBC Radio 5 Live at the 2008 Premiership final between Wasps and Leicester at Twickenham in May.

The award was presented by World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward while former Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio also paid tribute. Hignell worked for the BBC for 17 years and for BBC Radio 5 Live for 12 years, during which time he covered every major rugby union event, both domestic and international.

Hignell, who played his club rugby for Bristol, made his debut for England as a 19-year-old student against Australia in Brisbane in 1975 and went on to win 14 caps as a fullback.

He played professional cricket for Gloucestershire from 1974 to 1983, passing 1,000 runs for the season three times and hitting 11 first-class centuries.

The award is a tribute to former BBC presenter Helen Rollason MBE, who died from cancer in 1999 at the age of 43. The first woman to present BBC Sport's flagship Grandstand programme, she raised £5m for a care clinic at the hospital where she was treated and a charity offering therapeutic support and development to men, women and their supporters following a cancer diagnosis was set up in her name.

Previous winners of the award include former boxer Michael Watson, amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius and wheelchair athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award went to triple gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Hoy while the British Olympic cyclists fought off competition from amongst others Wales' Grand-Slam winning side to claim the team award.

© Scrum.com

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