GIVING IS MORE THAN JUST MAKING A DONATION
On Saturday 22nd July I was honoured to be invited to the Jamie G Sporting Trust Summer Ball 2017. I am always humbled by such invites and was even more honoured when Jacqui Gentlemen, a senior committee member and trustee of this great cause, very kindly gave me a ‘shining star’ lapel badge to wear for the evening, which of course I wore with immense pride and will continue to do so.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the Jamie G Sporting Trust perhaps I should give you a snap shot overview of this fantastic charitable organisation with some incredible people behind it. The Trust has been established to preserve the memory, and reflect the personality, of Jamie Gentleman, a young, competitive, Andover sportsman, who demonstrated the highest standards of team spirit and sportsmanship. Jamie in extremely sad circumstances passed away on the 15th March 2009 after a heart condition called ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ was found. With this condition, the main pumping chambers of the heart are dilated and as a result contract poorly. This then results in a low output of the blood from the heart and features of the heart, with buildup of fluid behind the left side of the heart leaving extreme congestion in the lungs and breathlessness.
Having spent an hour or so on Saturday afternoon looking deeper into this condition (having not heard of it before), it was clear that the causes of ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ are still debated by medical professionals and lots of uncertainty still remains today on this issue.
The evening was opened up by Paul Gregory who is the Chairman of the trust. Paul highlighted some of the complex challenges that have been faced recently in trying to get the relevant licenses and permits as well as local authority support to build what will be a lasting legacy for Jamie G, a local sports hall for both the public and private sectors use – I realised very quickly that the people here were about a lot more than just shaking a bucket for some loose change for a good cause, they had goals and dreams to build to make sure Jamie’s memory lived forever and they were only just warming up! Jamie’s brother and local fitness entrepreneur Tommy Gentlemen was next up and gave an incredibly inspiring insight on what his brother meant to him and why it would be his life time duty to make sure that other local sports stars and children were granted opportunities to learn, develop and excel in their chosen fields, in Jamie’s memory. Tommy’s inspirational words got me thinking as I looked on whilst sipping my delightful cold pint of San Miguel, I found myself thinking about what he was saying and in particularly about the idea of leaving a legacy. For me the concept of leaving a legacy is all about the need or the desire to be remembered for what you have contributed to the world. In some cases, that contribution can be so special that thousands of people could befit from your legacy, depending on how you had lived and what people did to continue and build on that legacy for you.
The ‘Jamie G Sports Hall’ project made perfect sense and when I was informed we had smashed the target of £100,000 in fundraising efforts later in the evening, I could see that this was a special milestone for the Trust and all the families, friends and local supporters who were in the room on Saturday evening. This was an incredible achievement and one that I was honoured to be a part of. I’m a big believer that when it comes to charity that giving isn’t just about making donations, ultimately it is about making a real difference! Jacqui and Tommy had asked me a few weeks ago if I would be interested in donating an auction or raffle prize to which of course I agreed. After a few phone calls and some favours called in from ‘the network’, I was delighted to provide a signed Southampton FC football shirt and a signed book for the world’s greatest explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes who I had spent the evening with 2 weeks earlier. The evening was full of fun, games, laughter and celebration and most importantly a huge amount of money was raised for this excellent local charitable cause, that I will continue support for years to come.
There is something very rewarding about giving back to your local community and especially when it is such a great initiative, that can help the lives of tomorrows rising superstars, wanting to fulfil their own sporting dreams or just have some fun with a bat, ball, racquet or stick. I would like to thank Jacqui and Tommy for their invitation for what was a splendid evening and one that I will always remember, I would also like to congratulate all the volunteers that put this event together and sacrificed their own time in making sure everything ran as slick and as smoothly as possible, finally well done to The Lights of Andover for providing an excellent venue and a delicious pint (or ten) of San Miguel. I very much look forward to the next event and keeping the legacy of this young shining super star at the forefront of sport in Hampshire!