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13 May 2014

£750 SportsAid grant boosts young Bucks sports stars

Two up-and-coming young Buckinghamshire sports stars have been given a boost with a £750 grant each from the Bucks SportsAid Foundation.

Sixteen-year-old rower Rufus Biggs from Marlow, and netball player Tash Pavelin from Holmer Green, near High Wycombe, received their cheques from former British sprinter and two-time Olympian Derek Redmond, at a special Bucks Sporting Lunch Club event last Friday (May 9) at Dorney Lake.

Rufus’ ambition is to compete next year in the World Junior Rowing Championships in Rio, and hopefully the Olympics in 2020 or 2024; while Tash wants to represent England at the Commonwealth Games, and she is targeting 2018 in Queensland, Australia, as her earliest opportunity.

Redmond, who was world 4 x 400m relay champion in 1991 and was famously carried across the finishing line by his father at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics after a devastating hamstring injury, kept the audience entertained with stories of life on the athletics circuit.

Now a respected coach, advisor and commentator, he was the past recipient of a SportsAid grant, and spoke about the importance of supporting young athletes and what a difference the grant had made to him.

“My world championship gold medal is partly due to SportsAid, at 17 they singled me out for a grant and that meant the world to me, it was somebody saying I was worth the money. It was £150 and I spent it on sports kit which took the pressure off my parents having to buy it, so I am very thankful to SportsAid for making a huge difference to my career,” he said.

“Every penny or pound raised is helping the next generation of sports stars and hopefully this grant will go some way to helping Rufus and Tash with their training and equipment. I am sure it will be well spent and I wish them the very best of luck.”

Rufus, who belongs to Borlase Rowing, the boat club at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School where he is currently studying for his A Levels, said: “The money will be a huge help with my training and I want to say a big thank you to everyone for their support. My priorities are to buy my own oars for single sculling, to get a SpeedCoach to help me train more effectively and to buy a new bike so I can continue to train hard during the holidays.”

Having started rowing aged just 13 and won gold at a national schools event in his first year, Rufus’ career is going from strength to strength. In 2013 he was part of the senior boys’ quadruple sculls and qualified for the finals of his age category at the Henley Royal Regatta, something he says is his “biggest achievement” to date.

Currently training an average of 20 hours a week, he recently returned from an Easter training camp at the Dutch national team’s training lake in Holland, and will be racing almost every week until the season ends in July.

A delighted Tash, who plays goal defence, wing defence and goalkeeper, said: “I train almost every day, going to Hertfordshire twice a week, and every month I train with the England squad in Sheffield, so travelling is a big expense. The grant will be a considerable help towards those costs and I also planning to buy some new equipment, I’m very grateful to SportsAid for their support.”

One of the highlights of her career so far was when the Beaconsfield High School team won the England Netball U16 National Schools competition in 2013, and since then she has been selected to join the England U17 Performance Pathway, playing for the U17 squad.

Tash also plays for High Wycombe’s Clan Netball Club and the Hertfordshire Mavericks U19 team, which competes in England Netball’s Performance League – billed as the most exciting national U19 competition in the country.

Bucks Sporting Lunch Club events are supported by local businesses as part of a fundraising programme to help young sports stars of the future with training, equipment and travelling expenses and, thanks to generous donations, the event raised raised £4,000 for SportsAid to help fund future grants.

Paul Morgan, Head of Sport at Buckinghamshire New University, commented: “At Bucks New University, we are passionate about promoting the life-long opportunities that sport and education offers young people. Rufus and Tash have shown what can be achieved with hard work, and the motivation to achieve their goals while juggling the challenges of competitive sport and school demands. We are very proud to be supporting the achievements of young people in Bucks.”

The lunch is also supported by law firm B P Collins; independent financial advisers Austyn James Wealth Management; Television Systems Limited, Harwood Hutton accountants and Evolution Live.

Steve Perry

Steve Perry

Tel: 01753 279006 | 07894 607841

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