Irene was known as a good all-round sportsperson, competing in the field events of discus, shot and javelin as well as table tennis, lawn bowls and fencing.
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It was as a lawn bowler she had most success, winning gold at the Heidelberg Paralympic Games in 1972 in the Pairs event alongside Gwen Buck. She won a silver medal in the individual event at the same Games and went onto win silver 4 years later at the Games in Toronto, again in the pairs, this time alongside Gill Matthews.
Also in Toronto, Irene won bronze in the foil discipline in fencing. At both those Games she competed as Irene Nowak. Irene retired from sport in 1977 after breaking a leg. She lives in Staffordshire.