Duchess of Cambridge joins SportsAid for first engagement as charity’s patron
18 Oct 2013
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge joined more than 70 SportsAid athletes past and present – including several Olympians and Paralympians – at the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Friday October 18 for her first engagement as the charity’s patron.
The workshop was an opportunity for the Duchess to find out more about the challenges that young athletes face and how SportsAid helps them to overcome them. During her visit, SportsAid’s Chief Executive Tim Lawler introduced her to some of the athletes who have been supported by the charity this year while they took part in taster sessions of CP football, badminton, wheelchair basketball, volleyball and fencing.
One of the first athletes to meet the Duchess was 17-year-old boxer Jenna O’Reilly from London who said afterwards, “Meeting the Duchess today was great, she was really lovely. The workshop has been very helpful. It has made me aware of what other sports are like and what others have to go through to participate in their sport.”
Photo: Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, introduces the Duchess to (from the left) boxer Jenna O’Reilly, Paralympian Ade Adepitan, wheelchair basketball player Megan Wood and coach Haj Bhania.
The five-time junior ABA champion added, “If it wasn't for SportsAid, I don't think I would have carried on in my sport. I wouldn’t have been able to go to as many competitions. I would like to thank SportsAid for all the help they have given me.”
The other SportsAid athletes to meet the Duchess included 14-year-old badminton player Callum Hemming from Milton Keynes, 17-year-old triathlete Eliza Cottington from Teddington, 16-year-old wheelchair basketball player Megan Wood from Hythe in Kent, 20-year-old judoka Nekoda Davis from London, 17-year-old fencer Rubin Amsalem from London, 18-year-old volleyball player Toby French from Chelmsford and 17-year-old sprinter Kyle Powell from Heston.
Photo: The Duchess meets Paralympic hopeful Kyle Powell who competes in the 100m.
Kyle said, “What I learned today was how you have to push yourself away from distractions to succeed and how other athletes are doing this. I am grateful to SportsAid for giving me these opportunities – not just the financial help because that does help with training and competitions but also what I’ve learnt at the workshop. It's stuff you wouldn't learn in school or college.”
Before leaving the arena the Duchess took part in an impromptu game of volleyball with a group of SportsAid athletes that included England men’s volleyball team member Jordan Dalrymple. The 20-year-old Londoner later tweeted, “Incredible moment to have the opportunity to play volleyball with The Duchess of Cambridge. HRH patronage is invaluable to @TeamSportsAid.”
Photo: The Duchess playing volleyball with SportsAid athletes at the workshop. To her left is England youth team volleyball player Sophie Szyszko.
Then during the media, nutrition and mentoring sessions that followed the Duchess found out more about what SportsAid athletes like Jordan need in order to achieve their ambitions.
The media and social media training session – run by Fiona Cotterill and James Pearce with help from Olympic swimmer Karen Pickering – involved a mock press conference in which the Duchess asked 18-year-old squash player Richie Fallows, “It’s great that you’ve been part of SportsAid – how has it helped your training?”
Photo: The Duchess sits with former world champion swimmer Karen Pickering during a mock press conference at the workshop.
Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan said afterwards, “She was very keen to learn more about the difference SportsAid makes to these young players. She asked whether we had any more players coming through as a result of last year’s Games. I told her we had more than ever before. It’s been remarkable.”
Next came a nutrition session run by Jenny Tschiesche with help from Olympic rower Steve Williams. Asked about the difference SportsAid makes to young athletes Steve said, “It’s the kind of help you never forget.”
Photo: the nutrition session helped the athletes by suggesting some good pre-race meals and drinks to try.
Meanwhile the athletes’ parents were with Olympic champion rower Mark Hunter and his dad Terry for a session on the challenges that families face when supporting a talented young athlete. Mark tweeted beforehand, “An amazing day ahead with HRH the Duchess of Cambridge & many top athletes at the #SportsAidWorkshop inspire #NextGeneration #Olympiclegacy.”
Afterwards Sally Atkinson, who was at the workshop with her son Jonathan, wrote, “It was great for athletes and parents alike. A fabulous opportunity for the athletes to learn from but at the same time relax with other like-minded athletes and Olympians. The workshops were so professional.”
The Duchess ended her visit by joining a mentoring session in which the young athletes got to quiz Olympic diver Leon Taylor, Olympic champion rower Katherine Grainger, Olympic swimmer Steve Parry and Paralympic champion middle-distance-runner Danny Crates (all of whom have also been supported by the charity) about what it takes to succeed in sport.
Photo: The Duchess joins the mentoring session with Olympic champion rower Katherine Grainger, Tim Lawler from SportsAid and Olympic diver Leon Taylor
Nathan Fullerton tweeted afterwards, “Big thanks to @TeamSportsAid for a wonderful workshop, it's great knowing my generation has so much support from Olympians & The Duchess.”
Covered live on TV by BBC, ITV, Sky and NBC news teams, SportsAid’s workshop reached a global audience that day and made the front pages of the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Sun the next – taking the charity’s message further than it’s ever been before.
More quotes, tweets and Facebook messages from the workshop
"I myself was the recipient of a SportsAid Grant, and winning my medal would have been much more of a challenge without this support. My parents were paying for my trains, petrol and hotels otherwise, but to be honest I don't think you can get by without these grants because, although modest, they are absolutely vital. Sporting activities cost a boatload of money so it is vital to the fabric of the sporting infrastructure really. SportsAid does a fantastic job raising money for kids up and down the country. You can see this by the endless people who benefited who want to come down today and get involved. Statistically they are very good at picking people who will turn into the next Olympic champions. The Duchess of Cambridge being a patron of such a fantastic charity is brilliant."
Steve Parry (speaking to Nick Butler from Inside the Games)
“I just wanted to thank you for a tremendously enjoyable and beneficial day at the Copper Box Arena. To have had the opportunity to meet and get to know not only the Olympians and Paralympians, but also the fellow athletes from such diverse sports was a hugely enjoyable experience. The cherry on the cake was having the opportunity to meet with and speak with HRH the Duchess of Cambridge which I will treasure for the rest of my life; she is such a lovely, approachable person, a fantastic patron for SportsAid. My father also found the day extremely informative and loved the fact that he was invited as well, to accompany me. Thank you once again for a truly memorable experience.”
“It was a great honour to meet the Duchess and to give her a small insight into our sport. SportsAid have provided financial support to our young athletes for a number of years so it is a pleasure to support their events.”
Neil Brown, British Fencing
“I would just like to thanks you for an amazing day, I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Thanks again.”
“Fantastic day. Very informative and great for our athletes to meet others from different sports and try out new activities.”
“Just wanted to say thank you to SportsAid for a fantastic day. Both my parents and I enjoyed it and learnt so much about being an elite athlete. The day has inspired me to continue to work hard and dedicate myself to my passion, basketball. Thank you once again.”
I would like to say that Grace Harvey and her Mum thoroughly enjoyed the athlete workshop at the Copperbox last Friday. It was a very enjoyable, informative day and special day. Thank you for inviting Grace.
“@MarkHunterGB @knight_millie @TeamSportsAid @AdeAdepitan @LeonTaylorGB was a good day. And great to see you all.”
Danny Crates (@dannycrates)
“Thanks to @TeamSportsAid for inviting me to be part of such a great event attended by The Duchess of Cambridge on Fri.”
Jenny Tschiesche (@LunchboxDoctor)
Where do I start? – The SportsAid athlete workshop was an incredible experience. It was brilliantly organised and had a great atmosphere. I learned a lot from other parents I spoke to and from listening to Kay Adlington and Terry Hunter – they were terrific. I enjoyed the workshop sessions especially. They were so professional and inspiring, I’ve even got Millie to eat cada (as made by Jenny Tschiesche) this weekend – that is a breakthrough! Of course, for me , the best part of the day was meeting the SportAid Team and The Duchess of Cambridge. She was lovely and I think it was a credit to you and your team how well the day went and I am sure that is reflected in her enjoyment of the morning. She was so relaxed. Tim Lawler was so clever to remember everyone’s name that he introduced her to – I was impressed. Thank you very much for including us in such an amazing event. It was a great day for SportsAid. Many thanks to you and the rest of the SportAid Team.
“Had such an incredible day yesterday! Thank you so much @TeamSportsAid @AdeAdepitan @MarkHunterGB @dannycrates @LeonTaylorGB.”
Millie Knight (@knight_millie)
“@knight_millie @TeamSportsAid A pleasure Millie, glad you enjoyed the day :)”
Leon Taylor (@LeonTaylorGB)
“A great day at the Copperbox yesterday with @TeamSportsAid @nekodadavis_57 @OReillySisters A day of valuing and educating athletes.”
“Inspiring day at The Copper Box for the @TeamSportsAid athlete workshop. Some top talent to learn from and plenty of skilful youngsters.”
Rob Smith (@robwwfc)
“Brill day at the @TeamSportsAid workshop,great experience meeting the duchess of Cambridge n loved playing wheelchair basketball! #inspiring.”
Lucy Wood (@LucyWood14)
“Thank you so much to @TeamSportsAid for today at the Copper Box Arena! #nextgeneration.”
Ash Greenham (@ashgreenham)
“Had an absolutely amazing day today at the #SportsAidWorkshop, thanks to @TJL1967, @TeamSportsAid, @JordanDalrymple & everyone else involved.”
Isobel Pooley @IsobelPooley
“Can't believe I met HRH Duchess of Cambridge...still can't believe I played volleyball with her thanks @TeamSportsAid.”
Sophie Szyszko (@sszyszko)
“Learnt a lot at @TeamSportsAid workshop today, especially about media and social networking! Great activities and people there!”
Lewis Hawkins (@LewisHawkins)
“Great experience today meeting the Duchess of Cambridge & getting involved in a wide range of sports @TeamSportsAid #SportsAidWorkshop.”
Fran Steele (@fransteele96)
“Was great to meet the Duchess of Cambridge today & could tell it meant so much to the @TeamSportsAid athletes too.”
Karen Pickering (@Karen_Pickering)
“Great day with @TeamSportsAid, very useful sessions on nutrition and media. Great for Callum to mix with Olympic winners #SportsAidWorkshop.”
Justin Hemming (@JustinHemming71)
“Great day at the copper box for the @TeamSportsAid event. Always good to meet the next crop of up and coming GB stars. Bring on 2016 and 2020.”
Ade Adepitan (@AdeAdepitan)
I would just like to tell you how much I enjoyed the SportsAid workshop at the Olympic Park. It was really inspiring to meet some of the Olympians and was great fun having a go at the other sports with all the other athletes especially the wheelchair basketball. I found the mentoring sessions very helpful talking to the Olympians about their experiences. It is great to be part of SportsAid and have the opportunity to meet so many interesting like minded people. Thank you so much.
As SportsAid’s patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge is helping to shine a light on the achievements and potential of young athletes throughout the UK – an inspiring generation who one day hope to represent the nation at the Olympic or Paralympic Games. SportsAid alumnus Sir Chris Hoy welcomed the patronage by saying, “SportsAid played an important role when I was starting out so I know what a huge boost this will be to the young sportsmen and women the charity helps today. As patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge will give them the profile they deserve.”