I run because I absolutely love it (totally keeps me sane and I adore racing and meeting awesome people) but I also run to promote a small grass roots charity I set up. I think I may have the Guinness World Record for the fastest female cheerleader from this year’s London marathon where I ran to raise money for the charity!! Ha ha!
CASS & Friends is a local grass roots charity supporting children who are county, regional or national level in their sport, live in Gloucestershire or Worcestershire, go to a state school and are aged between 12-18. In our last AGM we agreed that one of the criteria our athletes should meet is “can’t afford the basics”. It really is these young children and their families that we want to support.
For example, one of our runners who is 17 raced in Spain with an England vest on this year and she had never been out of the UK before. What an experience! We have recently taken on board a young athlete whose mum brought her and her sister to a women’s refuge to escape domestic violence and so she is doing all she possibly can to keep her daughter competing in the sport she loves.
This also means travelling a long way for training on a weekly basis and for competitions. She now has the chance to do two training camps in Europe with the England team this year so we really hope that we can help to facilitate this and make that dream come true for her; especially as she has the talent and the absolute dedication and work ethic to deserve the opportunity.
We provide our athletes with grants of approximately £1000 per athlete each year to help cover costs such as entry fees, equipment, coaching, travel, physiotherapy, specialist nutrition advice and a whole lot more! Any support you can help us with will be amazing since we are at full capacity of athletes (25 – 30 in any given year) and we are receiving applications on a regular basis now that we are a little more established and becoming well known in the area.
As these children progress in their sport, they travel round the country and indeed round the world to compete and the costs can get prohibitive for some families. We want to help them compete on a more level playing field with some of their more affluent competitors.
In addition, we give our athletes the opportunity to do a one to one 8 week sporting success mindset course; which offers invaluable skills and strategies not just for their sport but every day life too. This has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from the athletes and their parents.
All our athletes have access to our wonderful ambassador Nikki Bartlett, a professional triathlete who grew up in Cheltenham and went to Bournside school and also our inspiring patron Eddie the Eagle. We hold regular events for the athletes and their families to share experiences and these are attended by Eddie and Nikki.
SportsAid is our partner and will be supporting some of their locally based athletes again in 2023. Last year we took on 3 of their athletes and we hope to do the same again this year.
Fiona Carter – Trustee
Our Instagram page can be found here – @cassandfriends