Out of the Starting Blocks

Greenwich Starting Blocks dinner. Steve Davis

Last night I attended the annual Greenwich Starting Blocks (GSB) fundraising dinner at The O2 Arena; to raise money for this local charity, which helps promising athletes from the borough at the start of their careers.

As always, it was a fantastic event, lots of fun was had by all, money was raised for the Trust through some generous auction donations and snooker legend Steve Davis had us all in stitches during his after-dinner speech!

But as fun as charity dinners often are, there is always a strong message behind what the organisation aims to do; and it’s one which I can identify with personally.

It goes without saying that being an athlete takes a massive amount of dedication and commitment, but taking up sport can often start out as an expensive hobby. When that hobby becomes a job and a passion (as wheelchair rugby did with me), it becomes more expensive still.

This is where GSB comes in. Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith, who was at the dinner, told the crowd about when the Trust gave her some money to buy new, specialist shoes, as well as funds to help her get to competitions.

When London 2012 Silver medallist Gemma Gibbons was injured in the run up to the games, she struggled to get qualification as she couldn’t attend competitions closer to home. GSB funded her to compete at a tournament in Korea, where she secured her spot at London. Some may say she wouldn’t have been able to compete in her home games had it not been for Starting Blocks!

Personally, GSB were kind enough to provide me with a grant about a year before London 2012, which I used to purchase gloves, tyre tubes and tape that would see me through until the end of the tournament.

This is exactly what GSB does: it supports athletes with the tangible goods that most people wouldn’t even think about, giving us fewer things to worry about so we can just concentrate on our training. They may provide the money, but their value is priceless.

You may have heard about Sport England and Sports Aid’s fantastic new #BackingtheBest initiative, which will provide funding for young, promising athletes who may feel that competing at an elite level would otherwise be out of their financial reach.

I’d like to think that this is what GSB has been doing for years on a smaller scale, and it would be great if we could get some local businesses on board to help these athletes achieve their dreams. If you’re interested, why not get in touch and I’ll happily pass on your details!

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