Staff from RBC BlueBay Asset Management gained “immense satisfaction” from supporting pupils at our Home Counties Special Schools competition at Stoke Mandeville on 3 July.
Six RBC BlueBay colleagues wore the famous Panathlon Leaders t-shirts as they guided pupils around the sporting activity stations, officiated the competition and gave high-fives aplenty!
Photo gallery: See all our pics from the event at Stoke Mandeville here
RBC BlueBay has supported Panathlon programmes for the last two and a half years. In that time its staff have lent a hand at many of our competitions, including half a dozen this academic year.
They have also completed fundraising challenges on our behalf, such as the 100-mile RideLondon and Nuclear Races. Staff members are also entering this weekend’s London 10k, the London Triathlon in August and the Royal Parks Half in October.
Monday’s competition, which took place at the prestigious ‘Birthplace of the Paralympics’ in Buckinghamshire, gave RBC BlueBay staff a chance to see Panathlon’s impact on children with disabilities and special needs at close quarters.
Harry Halewood, Business Development Associate, said: “It’s easy for us to do things for charity by setting up a JustGiving page or throwing some coins in a bucket, but to come down and see it in action takes it to the next level.
“I’d never done anything like this before and to see the smiles on the children’s faces was really inspiring.”
Senior Portfolio Manager, Anthony Kettle, said: “This is the first Panathlon event I have been to. It was amazing to see the children all enjoying themselves.
“These children may not have done a huge amount of sport before, which makes this opportunity all the more precious for them. They got so much out of it.”
Anthony particularly cherished one moment when all teams and staff applauded a girl who was last to finish the running race (see below). “That was really special,” he said. “Everyone goes home with a wonderful sense of achievement.”
Senior trader Mark Harrison added: “Today was really good fun. To see the children enjoying the activities so much gives us as a team immense satisfaction.”
The leaders from RBC BlueBay, who underwent training before the event, were supported by Young Leaders from The Grange School in Aylesbury.
One of them, 14-year-old Evie West, said: “It was quite a humbling experience. They pupils understood the tasks quite easily and each team was able to take part as soon as the whistle went.”
Caroline Bellin, PE teacher at The Grange, added: “This role helps pupils develop their communication, patience, tolerance of people who are different to themselves and, quite importantly, their self-confidence.
“They will quite often think they can’t be a leader because they’re not the best at something. A day like today will show them that’s not actually the case. They just have to develop the right leadership attributes.”
The competition was won by John Watson School from Oxford, who have competed in Panathlon’s programmes for several years. Earlier this year, Panathlon event staff visited the school to deliver activities on-site, enabling an even wider cohort of SEND students to benefit.
Teacher Matt Lynch explained that Panathlon had not only been beneficial at the competitions, but had enhanced the delivery of sport back in the school environment too.
“Panathlon gives me the skills and confidence to set up some of these activities at school,” he said. “We’ve now got table cricket, new-age kurling and parachute popcorn. As a Key Stage lead, I can see what equipment is appropriate to order and use in school. It empowers us and gives us new ideas.”
John Watson pupil Thomas Kent, 14, said: “I loved the table cricket the best. It makes me happy to be in the school team. My mum and dad will be proud of me.”
The two teams who participated from Kingfisher School in Abingdon finished second and third. Teacher Lorna Bee explained the importance of the competitions to her pupils.
“Apart from our in-house sports day, Panathlon is the only opportunity they get to take part in competitive sport,” she said. “We’ve been to the Panathlon swimming competition as well as the multiskills events, so it’s vital is keeps going and we continue to participate.
“The pupils get to try lots of sports that they’ve never tried before and all the activities are pitched at an appropriate level for them. They feel like they’ve really achieved something at the end of the day and, of course, going home with a medal around their necks is incredibly exciting.”
Panathon CEO Ashley Iceton commented: “Staff from RBC BlueBay Asset Management have volunteered over half a dozen times this year and have seen with their own eyes the benefits Panathlon bring to so many young people.
“Additionally their staff have contributed in many different fundraising activities to further support the charity and we thank them enormously for all their efforts.”