The biggest names in cycling helped to raise more than £230,000 to help save and change children’s lives at Action Medical Research’s star-studded Champions of CycleSport Dinner.
Surprise guest Danny MacAskill helped kick off proceedings as the high-profile event, sponsored by Garmin and supported by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, returned on Thursday, 18 November.
Heading the guestlist were double Olympic champion Katie Archibald MBE, Alex Dowsett fresh from his UCI Hour Record attempt, and newly retired Dan Martin. They were joined by two-times national champion and Grand Tour stage winner Nico Roche, world and European champion Ethan Hayter and his rising star brother Leo, Connor Swift of UCI ProTeam Arkéa–Samsic, and Sean Kelly, one of the finest classics riders of all time.
Olympic silver medallist Neah Evans and Pfeiffer Georgi, women’s national road race champion, were joined by Rochelle Gilmore, the voice of women's cycling. Stalwart supporters Dani Rowe MBE and Yanto Barker, as well as off-road superstar Gee Atherton, three-times national derny champion-turned-commentator Hannah Walker and Commonwealth Games Silver medalist Jon Mould, also walked the red carpet to show their support for the fight for little lives.
"Action Medical Research is a very worthwhile charity that is doing great work to help fund vital medical research," says Alex, who was diagnosed with the rare blood condition haemophilia as a toddler and is the only able-bodied elite athlete with the condition.
"It’s charities like Action who invest in research into these rare conditions which have the potential to change the lives of babies, children and young people. When you look at the research they have helped to fund over the years, the impact is colossal: everything from tackling polio to investigating the effects of Covid-19 on children.
“They also put on a packed programme of sportives throughout the year that makes them an ideal choice to celebrate the best of cycling.”
Supporters Jenny and James Halse spoke movingly at the event about their son Elijah, who was born extremely prematurely at 25 weeks and three days and lived for just 37 days after sadly developing NEC (necrotising enterocolitis).
“Elijah led a very traumatic little life. He died sleeping on my chest in the small hours – that’s when I joined the fight to stop premature birth," says Jenny, who has been raising funds with James since 2013. "We hope that through fundraising for Action Medical Research, we can make a small difference in the care for other babies in a similar situation in the future.
“If you had an opportunity to save a tiny life, why wouldn’t you?"
"We're so proud to again support Action Medical Research’s Champions of CycleSport," says Theo Axford, Head of Marketing for Garmin UK and Ireland. "The event once again brought together some of the best names in cycling, all to support Action’s life-changing work with children, making it both an incredible industry event and one that makes a real difference."
Chris Grove, partner at BDO LLP, added: "We’re delighted to be sponsoring the Champions of CycleSport Dinner and the amazing work that Action Medical Research do for a sixth year.
“Their fantastic cycling events tie in with our networking group, BDOVelo, but most importantly we’re honoured to play a small part in supporting the success of their efforts to save and change children’s lives through medical research.”
Host Matt Stephens returned to lead proceedings at the 11th annual Champions of CycleSport dinner at London’s Hurlingham Club.
Lots in the auction included the Tour of Britain Points jersey worn by Ethan Hayter during one of his Tour of Britain stage wins this year, and the special edition skin suit Dan Martin wore during his stage-winning Giro performance. Guests also bid on a bespoke Titanio Disco frame hand-built by Passoni in Milan, and the chance to join Sean Kelly and Rochelle Gilmore for a one-day ride-out in Majorca.
Based in Horsham, West Sussex, Action Medical Research is a UK-wide children’s charity which funds desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children. It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.
It is now driving forward children’s research in the fight against COVID-19 as well as funding research into conditions including asthma, prematurity, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.
To find out more, visit https://action.org.uk/
All imagery credit: Claire Jonas Photography
Notes for editors:
For a selection of images from the 2021 Champions of CycleSport Dinner, head to https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nm85pmzbx0gavk3/AAD2XCuCGbGMXxbn9Z48iqcra?dl=0
Action Medical Research is a leading UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research. For nearly 70 years we’ve helped pioneer ways to prevent disease and develop treatments benefiting millions of people. Our research has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound in pregnancy, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths. But we urgently need to develop more new treatments and cures for sick babies and children and we can’t do it without you.
Watch a video about Elijah that was shortlisted for the 2020 Charity Film Awards at https://youtu.be/OV3eRvE-Gv4
Join our fight for little lives today.
Charity reg. nos 208701 and SC039284