RBC Ride for the Kids has raised more than £60,000 for SportsAid as 47 riders, all of mixed abilities, completed the two-day cycle from London to Bruges. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has been a partner of SportsAid since 2014 and provides support to 50 young talented athletes every year through the charity. The team covered 184 miles each - a total of 8,648 collectively - in support of the next generation of British Olympic and Paralympic heroes.
The ride also helped to launch the return of the #MyMiles challenge for SportsAid Week 2018. The social media campaign was created last year to shine a spotlight on the country’s brightest sporting prospects and the training they undertake, day after day, to reach the very top. On average, a SportsAid athlete covers 43 miles under their own steam every week, and this September the British public will look to keep them company through #MyMiles.
Desiree Clarke-Noble, Managing Director, Head of Brand and Marketing, Europe and Asia-Pacific at RBC Capital Markets, said: “Our SportsAid partnership has grown year on year. It’s a crucial partnership for us. They may only be a small charity but the impact is enormous. Each year we think of different ways to add to the partnership and support SportsAid so they can in turn support more athletes. This was about an epic challenge.”
The team set off from RBC’s Thames Court offices in London last Friday (8 June) and made their way through Essex, with pleasurable pit stops in Brentwood and Danbury, as they completed the 88 mile journey to Harwich to catch an evening ferry to the Hook of Holland. A quick diversion to Great Totham Primary School in Maldon was factored in after lunch as pupils gathered in the playground to meet and greet the riders and cheer them on their way.
Paralympic champion Danny Crates and Olympic silver medallists Jess Eddie and Richard Hounslow, who were all part of the team, were introduced to the pupils and thanked them for their support. The trio also took part in a Q&A, led by Tim Lawler, SportsAid’s Chief Executive, as the rest of the riders had the opportunity to hear about their careers and the difference the charity’s support made to them following dinner at Harwich and Dovercourt Golf Club.
“It’s been 21 years since I received a grant from SportsAid and back then, when you’re quite young, sport is expensive and you rely on the bank of mum and dad,” said former canoeist Richard. “RBC Ride for the Kids is such a fantastic event – helping those young athletes not just to dream about achieving their goals but to actually have the opportunity to go out there and live their dreams – I was lucky enough to do that and it all started from SportsAid.”
The ferry arrived in the Netherlands the next morning and the riders passed Rotterdam, Middelburg and Breskens on the way to Belgium as they completed the last stretch The team eventually congregated at the finish in Burg Square as they celebrated in front of Gothic Bruges City Hall. The riders then headed to the Crowne Plaza Hotel before having dinner at Cafedraal restaurant as richly deserved reward for clocking off the remaining 96 miles.
“The ride was fantastic,” said Tim. “I think it will have been a genuinely special experience for everyone involved and of course, through the superb fundraising efforts of the riders, it will directly benefit talented young athletes too. There were so many highlights, but the endless miles of dedicated cycle-ways and riding across three different countries with Olympians and Paralympians would be up there. The planning and delivery of the ride was top-notch.
“The route and scenery was stunning and, from the start to the Flemish finish, the feeling among riders was one of collective effort and common cause. Everyone had time for everyone else; people were interested in why others had signed up – what they hoped to get from the ride and how they were feeling along the way. It was great to be part of a unique team, if only for a couple of days, and I felt immense pride that it was all to support SportsAid.
“For several years now we have been trying to create a ‘signature event’ for SportsAid – one that we could call our own. A participation challenge event that could reflect the charity’s values; that could be as inclusive and fun as possible; that would have the potential to become an annual fixture; and that crucially, could raise funds and awareness. In the RBC-SportsAid Ride for the Kids, we feel we might have found it. Here’s to the 2019 edition.”
RBC has now raised nearly £400,000 for SportsAid over the last four years. The bank, in addition to its financial award, provides young athletes with ongoing mentoring, support through its buddy programme and the opportunity to attend presentation workshops at the Old Vic Theatre. Zachary Morrison is a judoka competing internationally for Great Britain benefitting from RBC’s backing. He visited the first pit stop in Brentwood to thank the riders.
“The support is really important – I wouldn’t be able to afford most of the things I need when I go abroad to compete and SportsAid has done that for me,” said South Ockenden-based Zachary, 14, who is set to head out to the Cadet European Judo Championships to represent his country at the Under-18 age group level for the first time. “If these people didn’t raise this money [from RBC Ride for the Kids] it would be a struggle – they do it for people like me.”
Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest banks in the world and Canada’s largest bank by market capitalisation, partners with SportsAid to provide annual financial support, ongoing mentoring and deserved recognition to 50 young talented British athletes looking to fulfil their sporting ambitions.