Patrons - Dame Kelly Holmes
Dame Kelly Holmes MBE, Double Olympic Champion, Patron of Sportability says,
"I have seen how important sport can be in people's lives, both as athletes and fans. But the concept of using sport to rebuild a life shattered by paralysis adds another perspective. The work that Sportability does is not only fun, but it helps people to redefine themselves and achieve far beyond the confines of the wheelchair."
It was more than 10 years ago that Kelly made her first generous gesture to Sportability. A letter supporting the work that we were doing proudly hangs on our office wall. There followed autographed pictures and donations of signed kit for our fund-raising auctions. Then in July 2001 Kelly agreed to become the charity's principal patron.
As she says "I became involved with Sportability when I was asked to attend an event. I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of people and see how much enjoyment they got from taking part in sport no matter what their disability."
On accepting the patronage of the Charity, Kelly saw it as "a chance to put something back. If my reputation and celebrity can encourage someone to try, then that seems a very positive thing to be able to do. I am really pleased, and honoured, to be invited."
The Gold Standard in Patrons
Holmes, who enthralled the nation winning not one but two magnificent gold medals at the Athens Olympics after career threatening injury, has known disappointment and failure. But has never waivered in her determination.
Chief executive, David Heard, explains, "For years we watched Kelly struggle against injury to come back and excel against the best in the world. She has battled injury for most of her career - even running six races in the Atlanta Olympics with a stress fracture in her leg. But she has never waivered or given up in pursuit of her dreams. She is a superb example of the rewards of grit, determination and a total refusal to quit. Even in her darkest moments she had words of encouragement for our people. As such she is a very worthy patron."
But more than that, Heard believes that she is genuinely a superb role model. He says, "Kelly is a delightful, unpretentious person. She may look soft in civvies, but in her track strip she is made of steel. Her Athens glory could not be more deserved and is a triumph of commitment, single, even bloody-mindedness, and a strength of spirit that just won't be beaten. A tremendous example of the alchemy of effort and focus turning her prior Olympic bronze into gold.
We are so proud of her, and delighted that she supports Sportability."
Although retired from competitive athletics Kelly is in even more in demand as a sporting icon. She is involved in a number of charities and sporting initiatives. Her demanding ambassadorial, training, mentoring and coaching timetable, plus even more international travel, leave very little time for other aspects of life. But she supports Sportability through the occasional personal appearance, motivational messages, donations of memorabilia for fund-raising and a heartfelt endorsement of the Charity's aims and ideals.
As Kelly says, "I have seen how important sport can be in people's lives, both as athletes and fans. But the concept of using sport to rebuild a life shattered by paralysis adds another perspective. The work that Sportability does is not only fun, but it helps people to redefine themselves and achieve far beyond the confines of the wheelchair."
Visit Kelly's website DOUBLEGOLD