SportsAid supporters managed to raise over an incredible £40,000 during the charity’s inaugural SportsAid Week to help the next generation of British athletes heading towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond. SportsAid Week was such a major success that it has led to the charity confirming the initiative will now become an annual event with next year’s dates announced for Monday 25 September to Sunday 1 October 2017!
A wide range of fundraising activity was undertaken across the country with sports quizzes, mass zumba classes, dressage demonstrations, lunchtime walks, bake sales, fancy dress days, bucket collections, raffles and sponsored triathlons, bike rides, rows and runs all happening over the course of SportsAid Week as Olympians, Paralympians, up-and-coming athletes, schools, commercial partners and individuals continued to feed the feel-good factor from this summer’s success in Rio.
“I'm really pleased with the success of the first ever SportsAid Week. So much so in fact, that it is set to become an annual fixture,” said SportsAid chief executive Tim Lawler. “The intention was to create and support a dedicated week of fun and fundraising as a focal point for SportsAid's partners, supporters and the young athletes we help. We achieved the targets we set for this pilot year and we're certain there's huge potential for the future - thank you to everyone who got involved!”
SportsAid is supporting over 1,100 athletes in 2016 across more than 60 sports. The average award they receive is £1,000 and fundraising makes a huge difference to helping them cover certain training and competition costs such as equipment, transport and accommodation during the critical early stages of their careers. Toby Gold, who won silver in the T33 100m at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, joined many of the charity’s alumni, including Ellie Simmonds, in supporting SportsAid Week.
“SportsAid Week is incredible - it’s a great thing to be a part of,” said Toby. “It’s a chance to give something back but also be a part of athletes’ journeys. It’s about building the charity and making sure people are aware of the athletes being supported. SportsAid is integral to athletes’ success because it fills the gap between grassroots and the elite British UK Lottery funding. They allow up and coming athletes to make the jump between where they are and senior sport.”
Here is a round-up of the fundraising activity which took place throughout the first ever SportsAid Week….
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) hosted a special athlete showcase at its Thames Court and Riverbank House offices to show the impact of the SportsAid partnership to its staff. Demonstrations were provided on boxing, modern pentathlon, judo and rhythmic gymnastics by the athletes supported by RBC through SportsAid, and staff were able to enter a raffle and buy company kit to raise money. Paralympic heroes Ellie Simmonds, Pam Relph and Toby Gold all dropped by to speak to staff and SportsAid athletes about their experiences in Rio.
Caesars Entertainment raised funds at casinos in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham, Brighton with poker tournaments, sponsored cycles and bucket collections, and also in Southend where five-time Olympian Mark Foster presented a sports quiz attended by SportsAid athlete Hayley McLean. ICAP held a Graduate Challenge Day at the London Aquatics Centre and staged a raffle at its offices. Nottingham Building Society launched its SportsAid Regular Saver account with athletes visiting its various open branches.
MyLotto24 began a ‘Ride, Run and Row to Rio’ challenge at the beginning of September to fundraise and help encourage staff to undertake daily exercise during their breaks. Olympians David Florence, Keri-anne Payne and Leon Taylor visited the MyLotto24 offices to contribute towards the 5,761 mile total. SportsAid ambassador Laura Wright also chipped in with SportsAid athletes such as 110m hurdler Khai Riley-Laborde and cyclist Will Tidball, who are supported by the lotto betting company.
Hogarth Worldwide held daily lunch-time walks for its staff throughout the week with Laura, the sporting soprano, joining them on one occasion as she performed a song for them back at the offices. Hogarth ran a Q&A for staff where SportsAid alumnus Toby and currently supported athletes Cassie Cava, Alex Yee and Sian Wigington answered questions about their careers and how the financial help and recognition they receive from the charity assists them on their sporting journeys. Hogarth also held healthy treat and protein shake sales.
Sport England and UK Sport, both based at 21 Bloomsbury Street in London, were visited by Keri-anne and Team GB canoeists Rachel Cawthorn and Jon Schofield for a special day dedicated to SportsAid Week. Water polo player Dylan Green, supported by SportsAid through the Backing The Best programme with Sport England, joined them too. Staff also had the chance to gain advice from nutrition expert Jenny Tschiesche who works with SportsAid athletes at its regular workshops. Planet Organic supported the activity by donating healthy treats for the day.
Hounsdown Secondary School in Hampshire, where Great Britain diver and SportsAid athlete Emily Martin studies, held dodgeball tournaments, a football crossbar challenge, penalty shoot-outs, cake sales, teacher lip-sync battles and a fairground area with a coconut shy. Teachers even stumped up the courage to get their legs waxed and beards shaved off! One pupil undertook a sponsored swim as he completed 165 lengths in one hour with the school also raising SportsAid’s profile via assemblies.
Forrest School in Walthamstow ran lots of activities such as a sponsored run and swim, bake sales, a multi-sports competition and mass zumba session. They also received a special visit from Great Britain 400m runner Laviai Nielsen as she spoke to the school’s Elite Player Program students. Pupils at Queen’s Anne School in Caversham dressed up as Olympians, Townville Infant School in Castleford ran a penalty shoot-out and Norland Place School in Holland Park also supported SportsAid Week.
Mountain biker Maya Atkinson set up her own 12-hour night ride at the Gawton Gravity Club in Plymouth. With Maya and her mum the driving force behind the team, they managed to complete 15 laps of the course before getting to bed at 8:30am! Dressage rider Robyn Smith put on a ‘Fit to Ride – from Novice to Grand Prix’ demonstration with her mum in East Kilbride where people of all abilities could participate. They provided refreshments, home baking and a tombola for attendees to enter.
Fellow dressage rider Laura Gulliver offered flatwork lessons with money from each being donated to SportsAid Week while rugby player Abi Burton had a bake sale at home with family and friends to raise funds. Freestyle skier Justin Taylor-Tipton staged a SportsAid Charity Freestyle Jam for snowsport lovers with lots of prizes up for grabs at Stoke Ski Centre. Freestyle competitors of all abilities joined in and had the opportunity to stick around to see the Centre’s fireworks display.
Rachel and Jon were joined by fellow Team GB canoeists Louisa Gurski, Lani Belcher and Emily Lewis as they ran Tough Mudder with Hollie Webb, who won Olympic gold with the women’s hockey team in Rio, and a team containing friends and family. Alex Gurski, Tom Pearne, Tom Cawthorn and Toby Jordan were the other runners. Rebii Simon, another Team GB canoeist, ran the Henley Half Marathon as she was out of the country when her team-mates were conquering Tough Mudder!
Elizabeth Hoogland and Tobias Jordan, both individual fundraisers, also took on Tough Mudder. Olympian Gail Emms captained SportsAid’s Swim Serpentine team with Neat Nutrition’s Lee Forster, Charlie Turner, Rob Hyde and Catty Ryson all part of the squad. Rob finished in 23 minutes, 21 seconds which was the fastest recorded time for his age group across the entire day! Lee, Charlie, Rob and Catty’s participation helped to launch the official partnership between Neat Nutrition and SportsAid at Swim Serpentine in Hyde Park.
Staff and trustees
Alice Radford, SportsAid’s Backing The Best Awards Officer, and Hannah Barrett, the charity’s Head of Fundraising, covered 200km, 7.5km swimming and 50km running as they completed five Olympic triathlons in five days. In addition to fundraising, Alice and Hannah both wanted to gain an insight into how young talented athletes balance the various different commitments they have on a day-to-day basis, and to understand the importance of the support networks which surround them.
Tim Lawler, SportsAid’s Chief Executive, ran 40 miles over the course of SportsAid Week before being joined by trustee Ian Braid for the Surrey Legs of Steel - which was marking its own anniversary of 10 years. Trustee Mark Davies, chairman of ArcheryGB, rowed 40km as he fitted in four ergo sessions of around 42 minutes each during a week containing two visits to the World Field Archery Championships. Fellow trustee Tanni Grey-Thompson pushed 40km in her wheelchair throughout SportsAid Week.
Graham Dandy, SportsAid’s Partnership Manager, overcame Swim Serpentine, and Grace Hughes, the charity’s Athlete Liaison and Events Officer, along with Laura Wright, took part in an Olympic themed WOD at CrossFit Bold with members of the facility in Earlsfield. The SportsAid staff team also had the opportunity to do a bucket collection at London Waterloo Station, in the morning and afternoon of a busy working day, which provided them with the chance to speak to commuters about the history of the charity.
Sport’s National Governing Bodies were hugely supportive of SportsAid Week with lots of social media activation and participation in Fitness Friday – where people were encouraged to dress up in their sports kit for the day. Special edition SportsAid 40th anniversary headbands were on sale with several companies, alumni and current athletes taking to social media to post selfies. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Briggs and Forrester Building Services, Club Matters, Paul Kane and Paul Sculpher also fundraised for the initiative.