Horsham-based children’s charity Action Medical Research has raised £245,000 to help save and change children’s lives at its annual Champions of CycleSport Dinner, with the help of some of the biggest names in cycling.
The star-studded event at London Evolution on Thursday, 24 November, saw high-profile supporters including Alex Dowsett, Gee Atherton and Nico Roche take to the red carpet alongside up-and-coming stars like Josh Tarling, Pfeiffer Georgi and Noah Hobbs.
Also showing their support for Action Medical Research were Dani Rowe MBE, Rochelle Gilmore, Hannah Walker, seven-times Paralympic medalist Jody Cundy CBE and Jon Mould, along with Russ and Dean Downing, Joanna Rowsell MBE, Ben Swift and Yanto Barker.
Legends Sean Kelly and Sean Yates were on the guest list while regular hosts Matt Stephens and Rebecca Charlton helped to lead proceedings.
The Champions of CycleSport Dinner was supported by Garmin, who deliver innovative GPS technology, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, and alcohol-free beer brand Lucky Saint.
Recently retired professional road racing cyclist Alex Dowsett was diagnosed with the rare blood condition haemophilia as a toddler and is the only able-bodied elite athlete with the condition.
“Haemophilia treatment has progressed so much over the past 30 years, thanks in part to the work done by charities like Action Medical Research, which means that the future is very bright for haemophiliacs, including my daughter who is a carrier.
“And they are currently striving to develop treatments and cures for a number of rare diseases which may affect a very small number of people but when you look at them collectively, it’s a chance to have a colossal impact.”
Downhill mountain bike champion Gee Atherton urged people to support the charity which was founded 70 years ago by Duncan Guthrie in a bid to find a cure for polio.
A decade later, the first UK polio vaccines were introduced and Action Medical Research has gone on to fund some of the most significant medical breakthroughs in recent history, helping to save thousands of children’s lives and change many more.
Speaker Sophie Lennox spoke movingly of her battle with epilepsy from the age of 10, sometimes enduring up to 20 seizures a day. At the age of 15 she had pioneering brain surgery led by surgeon Richard Selway, part of a team at King’s College led by Dr Antonio Valentin working on groundbreaking research funded by Action Medical Research.
She said: “If you would have told me all that time ago that simple things like having a shower or crossing the road would no longer be a risk to life, I would have thought I’d won the lottery.
“In 2015 my life was more than likely saved, at the very least given back to me, by the work funded by Action Medical Research.”
Items in the live auction on the night helped to boost the total, including a signed Tour de France yellow jersey from Tadej Pogačar, a ride out in Majorca with Sean Kelly, a hand-built Passoni Titanio Classica Disco and an FZED driver training program in New Zealand.
AMR has been funding medical breakthroughs since 1952. 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.