An inspirational evening was had by all at Queen Anne’s School in Reading on Friday 24th October where guests were able to meet and chat with 5 members of the winning GB Olympic and Paralympic rowing Team. This included the triple golf medal winner Andrew Triggs-Hodge MBE, who auctioned the loan of his medals for a week. The other rowers were Scott Durrant who was in the winning 8 with Andrew, Zoe Lee and Karen Bennett from the triumphant women’s silver medal boat and Tom Aggar who gained his brilliant bronze at his third Paralympics after Gold at Beijing.
Over a Q and A guests learnt that rowers: generally keep their medals in a sock; eat around 6 meals a day and train for 6 days a week. They added that there is a great team spirit and all the effort does match the rewards on crossing the line in medal positions! The evening included short presentations about both AfriCat and The Bruce Trust Charities who co-operated to organise the evening. Over twenty donated items were auctioned including a 3 night stay at Okonjima home of the AfriCat Foundation. The auction alone raised in excess of £15,000.
All the guests ‘Adopted a Brick’ to help with the building of brick classrooms for a small rural village school in Namibia currently accommodated in old army tents. Thanks go to the sponsors of the evening, those who donated auction items, the team at Queen Anne’s School, guests who gave so generously and James Tomlinson, Trustee of AfriCat UK, who together with Andrew (and a little help from others) pulled the evening together.
Janet Widdows of AfriCat UK got to hold Karen Bennett’s Silver medal from Rio. Janet said: “The medals were far heavier than I expected”. Tom Aggar’s para-Olympic Bronze medal from Rio was also shown off as, like all para-Olympic medals, it had an added attraction: it rattles!
The charities involved in the evening, both based in Berkshire, were: The Bruce Trust, based in Hungerford and AfriCat UK with their office base in Reading.
For the GB Rowers Andrew Triggs-Hodge said: “It is a great honour to represent and fundraise for both of these charities. They do great work in two hugely important areas. Raising money for the conservation of Africa’s wildlife, with education across the community will play a major role in making sure future generations witness the beauty of African wildlife. And the work the Bruce Trust do for the disabled is hugely inspiring, and life changing. Having witnessed the joy these opportunities bring, I was honoured to be able to bring my medals and experiences to raise as much money as we can”.
David Bruce of The Bruce Trust said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for my local Trust to team up with an international charity to raise not only much-needed funds but also our respective public profiles. It is a great honour that so many Olympic Rowing Champions supported this event and they are an absolute inspiration to us all”
David Farquharson, Chairman of AfriCat UK, said “We looked tremendously to jointly hosting this wonderful event with the Bruce Trust. A full house on the night heard about all of the good work that AfriCat does in the areas of conservation, education and community enhancement. Our thanks must particularly go to Andrew Triggs-Hodge and the other GB rowers for giving their time so willingly – their insights into what it takes to win Olympic Gold was absolutely fascinating”.