HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, the Patron of SportsAid, showed off her table tennis skills as she teamed up with Marcus Giles to face HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Denise Payet in a game of mixed doubles at the 23rd ICAP annual Charity Day yesterday.
SportsAid were one of 13 UK-based charities selected to receive money from ICAP, a leading markets operator matching buyers and sellers in wholesale markets, as it donated a day’s revenue and commissions to different causes around the world.
The Duke and Duchess were taken on a tour of the ICAP offices where they met brokers and helped 'close' deals with clients to raise money for SportsAid and the other charities. They jointly conducted a deal with two banks worth a combined €400 billion.
They stopped for a game with England junior table tennis stars Marcus and Denise as they met SportsAid alumni Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Sotherton, and the charity's staff, to talk about its work supporting the next generation of British athletes.
Marcus (supported by Prudential) and Denise (BNY Mellon) were thrilled to play with the Duke and Duchess, and they spoke to them afterwards about their ambitions in table tennis and the recognition they have received from SportsAid as two of the country's brightest prospects.
"It was an honour playing with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge," said Marcus. "They were both pretty good and managed to get a few decent rallies going! The Duchess asked me about my table tennis career, how I started and the support SportsAid gives to me."
Denise added: "The Duke and Duchess were very determined and both played well - it was a great experience. I spoke to the Duke and he asked me about my table tennis and SportsAid. I told him how SportsAid’s support has helped with training and tournaments and the different costs involved."
100% of ICAP’s donation to SportsAid will go towards creating the new ICAP Talent Fund which will directly support 50 young talented athletes each year – starting with SportsAid’s 40thanniversary in 2016 and carrying through to 2017 and 2018.
The fund will help with training and competition costs for the athletes as they look to follow in the footsteps of SportsAid alumni Paula and Kelly, Sally Gunnell, Mark Foster, Ade Adepitan and Zac Purchase – all of whom ‘closed’ deals with clients on the broking floor.
Paula, the current women's world record holder in the marathon, managed to do ‘five or six deals, some in oil and shipping’. She was delighted to be able to help generate funds for SportsAid after the support she received in the critical early stages of her career.
“This means a huge amount to me as I was helped by SportsAid a long time ago when I was starting out,” said Paula. “It really does make a big difference as you feel valued and it gives you extra belief to keep going forward to do better in your sport.
Paula also spoke to the Duchess about their ‘love of sport’ and their involvement with SportsAid. She added: “The Duchess loves being the Patron of SportsAid because it does make a difference to so many young people and allows them to get the best out of themselves.”
Fellow alumni Tanni Grey-Thompson, Leon Taylor, Duncan Goodhew and Zac Purchase pushed hard to ‘close’ deals with SportsAid ambassadors Hayley McQueen and Laura Wright also conducting business worth millions of pounds between them.
Each of the SportsAid alumni and ambassadors were accompanied by a young talented athlete supported by the charity including wheelchair racer Toby Gold, heptathlete and high jumper Morgan Lake, 400m hurdler Shona Richards and middle distance runner Sabrina Sinha.
ICAP staff were dressed in a range of fancy dress and SportsAid’s alumni, ambassadors and athletes fully embraced the party atmosphere with soprano Laura singing Jerusalem down the phone to one client and rugby players Zoe Aldcroft and Joanna Brown sweeping actress Julie Walters off her feet!
Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, said: “What an amazing, crazy day. The energy and goodwill from everyone at ICAP was inspiring. It was a pleasure to be a part of the action knowing that everyone’s efforts will go towards creating a brand new talent fund with SportsAid.
"We're honoured to have such a committed Royal Patron in HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. Her support shines a spotlight on these young athletes, and to see HRH The Duke of Cambridge so passionate too is a huge boost for them all as they strive to be the best they can be."