In her spare time Rebecca tries to play an ambassadorial role for various charities and events. Her drive to support stems from her passions and personal experiences.
Access Sport ‘transforming lives through sport’
Rebecca feels she was lucky that she stumbled upon Kingston rowing club where she began her journey from non-athlete to Olympic Champion. If those facilities, unpaid coaches and support volunteers weren’t there, then she would never have achieved what she did. She singles out her first rowing coach and long term career mentor as the key reason for her success. He identified Rebecca’s talent, inspired and motivated her and guided her through her foundation building years as a young athlete. It is this personal experience that drives Rebecca to be a strong advocator of sports development and participation schemes. “There are many talented children and teenagers who have the potential to be great sports stars, but they just don’t get the opportunity to get involved. Not only that, but sport has the power to teach so many skills and attributes and to shape and guide young people. It is therefore an invaluable opportunity that every young person should have access to, and that is why I support Access Sport” she says.
Founded in 2004 Access Sport is a dynamic charity whose mission is to give more children, particularly in disadvantaged areas, access to a wide range of quality local sport. It look’s to harness the proven power of sport to tackle social exclusion, inactivity and obesity in areas where help is most needed. This is achieved through empowering the inspirational community volunteers who set up and run local sports clubs with cash, expert advice and networking to help create thriving clubs which get more people positively engaged.
The current Legacy Programme is to develop 75 clubs (50 in London and 25 in Bristol) by 2013 creating a successful and transferrable ‘blueprint’ for club development in deprived urban areas. The Access Sport Legacy Programme aims to engage 9,000 new young people regularly in club sport and qualify 450 new coaches and 450 new volunteers.
For more information visit www.accesssport.org.uk
There are six deaths and 70 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day. That is a shocking statistic to read. Brake is an independent national road safety charity dedicated to preventing road death and injury and supporting people bereaved or injured in road crashes.
Their work includes educating different road users – from children and their parents, to young people learning to drive, to professional drivers – through resources, training and events. They co-ordinate National Road Safety Week each November and provide free community training on different road safety topics, including family road safety and young driver safety, through their Road Safety Academy.
The charities BrakeCare division is the national provider of support for road crash victims, helping families whose lives have been devastated by a sudden death or serious injury. It offers emotional support and practical information through a helpline and through support literature that is handed out by police following every fatal road crash in the UK.
Rebecca supports Brake and the campaign for road safety and awareness. “I’ve lost count of the number of people I know who have been killed or critically injured on the road, so I really have a strong personal drive to do what I can to help. More needs to be done to prevent these deaths and drive those awful statistics down.”
For more information visit www.brake.org.uk
Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust
The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) is a division of The Disabilities Trust and is the means by which The Disabilities Trust provides its brain injury services. BIRT helps people regain the skills lost as a result of brain injury – whether caused by road accident, assault, stroke or illness.
Since 2008 Rebecca has endorsed the BIRT annual ‘Look After Your Head Campaign’ which is part of the annual Brain Injury Awareness Week. The campaign with the ‘Look After Your Head’ message is instrumental in providing awareness and education to over 30,000 children and teenagers. Rebecca’s support for the charity stems from personal experience and she tells a very poignant story.
“When I was a junior rower, an extremely gifted and talented team mate called Anna Fangen had an accident whilst cycling on her bike. She tragically lost her life. Her journey was a short one to a training session but she wasn’t wearing a helmet. As was the case with Anna, motor vehicles are not always involved in fatal cycling accidents. Bad road or weather conditions, loss of bike control or mistakes by the rider can also contribute to serious crashes. Wearing a helmet is such a simple action to take to protect yourself. I never get on my bike without a helmet on. Make sure you look after your head too. After all, it’s where you create those amazing dreams like mine was of becoming Olympic Champion, as I’m sure was Anna’s too.”
For more information visit www.birt.co.uk
Ride Across Britain
In July 2009 Rebecca, along with Olympic Champion rower James Cracknell, attempted to break the world record for the mixed non-stop tandem ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. They had to cycle it non-stop in under 2 days, 3 hours, 19 minutes and 23 seconds to beat the record. Sadly, they were forced to end the attempt after cycling for nearly 30 hours and 500 miles due to problems with Rebecca’s knees. Rebecca was absolutely devastated to have to abandon, but still proud that they took on such an amazing challenge. “I’d rather set unachievable challenges and maybe not complete them than set challenges that are always achievable” she said.
James and Rebecca undertook the record attempt to bring more attention to the iconic cycling challenge and to mark the launch of the new Deloitte Ride Across Britain cycling event. Since then Rebecca has remained an ambassador for the event and encourages anyone to take on this challenge for themselves if they can.
A brilliant mass participation event open to anyone to take part, as an individual rider or as part of a relay team, the Ride Across Britain is the ultimate and most iconic UK cycling challenge. It takes on one of the most beautiful, but toughest cycling routes in the UK, covering 1000 miles from John ‘O Groates to Lands End in 9 days. It is a challenge that has raised over £1.5m in the last two years for its main benefitting charity, the British Paralympic Association.
The BPA are the charity that supports British athletes through each Paralympic Games. In 2008, the ParalympicsGB team had their best ever Paralympic Games, and are now counting down to the home Games in London 2012. The BPA have one chance to ensure that Britain’s Paralympians receive the best possible preparations to compete, and win, against the rest of the world in front of the home crowds. Through these performances they have one opportunity to inspire change in the way people think, feel and behave towards disability and inspire a new generation of disabled people to get in to sport, but they need help to provide the world class support British disabled athletes need.