Olympic cyclist Jess Varnish was in Bury St Edmunds on Friday for the opening event of this year’s Bury St Edmunds Festival of Sport.
The former European Champion and World record holder was the star guest at The Athenaeum for a special sporting lunch aimed at raising money to help aspiring sportsmen and women from Suffolk.
Profits from the event will go to SportsAid – a charity that helps the most promising young British athletes by providing them with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities during the critical early stages of their careers.
Varnish, who was one of GB’s leading track cyclists between 2012 and 2017 and famously partnered Victoria Pendleton in the Team Sprint, said “I’m delighted to be able to help such a worthwhile cause. It’s really expensive to train and compete at national and international level so any support that athletes receive is always welcome. SportsAid does a great job in getting support to the right athletes at the right time.”
The lunch was made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from Greene and Greene Solicitors, Lovewell Blake Chartered Accountants and Financial Planners and Abbeycroft Leisure.
Paul Milton, of Lovewell Blake, said “As a company our values align closely to those of SportsAid. Both organisations firmly believe in supporting the local community and what better way can there be of doing this than giving a helping hand to up and coming sportsmen and women from the county?”
Tim Mendes da Costa, of Greene & Greene Solicitors, commented “we are delighted to sponsor this event. It’s a great fit for a business like ours because, like the sportspeople SportsAid supports, we always strive to deliver the highest possible standards for our clients.”
Warren Smyth, of Abbeycroft Leisure, added “too many talented young sportspeople don’t fulfil their potential because the cost of training and competing at a high level can be unduly restrictive. The work of SportsAid is therefore vital in supporting their journey. As the major provider of sport and leisure opportunities across West Suffolk we are delighted to play our part.”
Since it was launched in 2007, SportsAid has raised and distributed well over £200,000 to support young athletes from Suffolk including some that have gone on to win Olympic, Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth medals.
Two hugely talented local athletes to have both received support from SportsAid were in attendance at the event. Great Britain race walking international Callum Wilkinson, fresh from the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and squash prodigy Emma Bartley were quick to praise SportsAid with Wilkinson saying “to receive support from SportsAid was a real boost. The funding was, of course, fantastic but to be recognised as having the talent to go on and achieve on the biggest stage was incredibly motivating.”
For more information about SportsAid visit www.sportsaid.org.uk.
[Photo: Jess Varnish with (R-L) International Race Walker Callum Wilkinson, Paul Milton from Lovewell Blake, Warren Smyth from Abbeycroft Leisure, Angharad Ellis Owen from Greene and Greene Solicitors and International Squash Player Emma Bartley.]