Dame Kelly Holmes is surprisingly petite in real life but still manages to fill the room with her personality.

On a gloriously sunny morning, in May 2016, we received a warm welcome from the friendly young staff at Café 1809, named after Kelly’s Olympic number from the 2004 Athens games at which she won double Olympic gold medals.

Very much still a Hildenborough girl at heart, Kelly opened the café in 2014 with the aim of providing a meeting place for all ages in the village where she grew up. As well as providing local employment, Café 1809 aims to use locally sourced ingredients and is located in the totally renovated paper shop where Kelly worked as a teenager.


After explaining the history and philosophy of the café Dame Kelly talked very candidly about her military career, injury and depression, winning double Olympic gold and her current life including running a marathon in a very respectable 3hours 11minutes eleven years after retiring from athletics.

At the end her of her inspirational talk she had 42 ‘not so young’ KIC members spellbound, thinking that perhaps they too could run a marathon and queuing up for selfies.

Dame Kelly very generously gave of her time and KIC was pleased to give a generous donation to her charitable foundation which supports athletes as they transition from sport, and use their skills to help young people between the ages of 14-25 who are facing disadvantage to live a positive life.


By Vicki Jones