SOUTHEND residents were lucky enough to rub shoulders with local swimming legend Mark Foster yesterday when he hosted a buzzing night of entertainment at The Rendezvous casino, in aid of its charitable partner SportsAid.
The eight times world record holder was the quizmaster at the event raising over Â£1000 for the charity, whose aim is to help young sports people overcome the financial challenges they face in their bid to become Britain’s next generation of sporting heroes.
Speaking about the event, arranged during the charity’s dedicated SportsAid Week, Mark said, "Everyone really got into the spirit of things. The atmosphere at the casino was buzzing and it was great to see such passion for a charity that is so close to my own heart."
As well as hosting the event, Mark was introduced to local Olympic athletics hopeful Hayley McLean, aged 21, who received a Â£1,000 SportsAid award courtesy of the casino. The donation is part of the Rendezvous Southend’s ongoing commitment to the charity, and will empower Hayley to gain wider experience by competing abroad, as well as helping with on-going costs for travel, kit, competition fees and general living expenses.
Mark continues, "I know exactly how financially challenging it can be committing to sport from a young age. With every spare minute dedicated to intense training, finding the time and the energy to earn an income is incredibly difficult. I’m so pleased I got to meet Hayley – it’s always great to see a real life example of how SportsAid is helping people to continue pursuing their sporting dreams. She clearly has a bright future ahead of her which is exciting for Southend!"
Hayley said, "Mark is such a fantastic role model to all young athletes out there, it was a real honor to meet him in person. I’m really grateful to the Rendezvous casino for giving me the opportunity to chat to him directly about my sporting goals and ambitions, and for their generous financial donation which will empower me to reach my goal of representing Great Britain at the Olympics or World Championships."
Johanna Johnstone, Venue Director at The Rendezvous Southend says, "We’re delighted that Mark was able to join us and add some celebrity excitement to our fundraising event. The atmosphere in the room was electric and we’re extremely grateful to all our customers for helping us raise such a substantial amount of money for SportsAid.
We take great pride in our charity work, especially when it comes to supporting our local community. It’s extremely rewarding to know that helping Hayley financially will enable her to pursue her dreams – she is clearly one very talented young sports lady"
Chief executive of SportsAid Tim Lawler says, "The donation from The Rendezvous Southend is set to help Hayley train harder and compete more effectively so she can put all her efforts into getting the results she needs to move up and realise her potential. It provides the right help and recognition at the right time, enabling SportsAid’s donors to see the impact of their support through the hard work and progress of these young athletes. Caesars Entertainment UK has been amazing, enabling us to provide thousands of pounds worth of donations to support young athletes all over the UK."
Since 1976, SportsAid has helped many of the nation’s most successful sportsmen and women. Some of the best known former SportsAid recipients are Sir Chris Hoy, David Weir CBE, Mo Farah CBE, Dame Sarah Storey, Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, Sir Ben Ainslie, Jonnie Peacock MBE, Tom Daley, Ade Adepitan MBE and Sir Steve Redgrave. The charity’s patron is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.