Last night, Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Thomas, was given a standing ovation by some of the nation’s greatest-ever sports men and women, as he delivered the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy to the live awards show at the P&J Arena in Aberdeen.
Delivery of the trophy, on time – won by England cricket legend, Ben Stokes – marked a triumphant end to Gareth’s mammoth 500-mile, seven-day cycle challenge for Sport Relief, The Tour De Trophy, which has raised thousands of pounds.
Gareth Thomas said: “This week has been both the most emotional and physically challenging task that I’ve probably undertaken in the 45 years that I’ve been on this planet. I’ve been through every emotion…I’ve had happy times, I’ve had sad times, I’ve had difficult times; and cycling on a bike through all kinds of terrains, in all kinds of weather, has at times, left my spirits low. But then also there’s been times where I’ve felt so alive, so free, and seen the beautiful countryside. It’s been the most empowering journey I’ve ever been on.”
Setting off from Cardiff last Monday, Gareth’s route took him across Wales, England and Scotland against wind, rains and hailstorms, with the total distance covered over the week the equivalent to 20 marathons or climbing Ben Nevis five and a half times.
A number of familiar faces lent their support during the challenge, including Love Island’s Montana Brown, Judy Murray OBE, former Olympian Samantha Quek, Strictly’s Thom Evans, comedian Stephen Bailey, former Invictus Games gold medallist JJ Chalmers, former Olympic sprinter Jeanette Kwakye and sports presenter Radzi Chinyanganya.
Cycling into the studio last night, Gareth was joined on his Quattrocycle by 2004 Sports Personality of the Year winner, Dame Kelly Holmes and cricket legend and spin-king, Graeme Swann.
Gareth added: “To get the trophy there on time was a real relief, but it was about much more than that. This challenge has been about raising awareness of issues that affect so many people in society, people who aren’t as lucky as me. It’s been about sharing the stories of those who may not feel able to speak out, ask for support, or be their true selves.
“It’s been so incredible to meet so many people along the way who are benefitting from money raised by Sport Relief. They’re the ones who I kept in my head throughout as my inspiration. They’ve been the people that really have championed me on and kept me going every single day; and they’re the reason I wanted to deliver this trophy to a room full of people who inspire me and give me hope.”
Whilst raising money and delivering the Sports Personality of the Year trophy to Aberdeen, Gareth also learnt about the work being done to tackle stigma in the UK, that money raised by Sport Relief makes possible.
During the challenge he met project workers and beneficiaries from projects across the UK, including the Wyre Forest Nightstop Scheme in Kidderminster, who are helping people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness; and 38-year-old Verity, a community development worker at Yorkshire MESMAC, who works to engage LGBTQ+ people in sport and activity in a bid to help them overcome barriers and improve their wellbeing.
Ruth Davison, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Comic Relief said: “We’re all so proud of Gareth and everything he has achieved over the course of the last seven days. We know that stigma continues to surround some of the biggest issues in the world today – whether that’s homelessness, LGBTQ+ awareness, or mental health – which is what makes everything he has achieved even more significant. Gareth has pushed himself to the absolute limit to raise thousands of pounds for Sport Relief, and awareness of those who are living challenging lives, who need our support. He truly is an inspiration; so, on behalf of us all we want to extend a huge thank you.”
Gareth is still raising money to fight the stigma around some of the biggest issues in the world today. To support Gareth visit https://www.sportrelief.com/challenges/gareth-thomas-tour-de-trophy
ENDS FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Comic Relief Media Team: firstname.lastname@example.org 0207 820 2500
NOTES TO EDITORS: Website: sportrelief.com Social @sportrelief #TourdeTrophy Follow Gareth on Twitter: @gareththomas14 | Instagram: @GarethThomasOfficial
About Sport Relief Sport Relief brings the nation together to get active and raise life changing amounts of money through the power of sport. Sport Relief only spends funds on the things it passionately believes in. These being: • Survive and Thrive: That every child has the right to the best start in life • Global Mental Health: That every person has the right to quality mental health support where and when they need it • Safe Place to Be: Everyone having a safe, secure and decent place to call home • Gender Justice: Women & girls having equal power and say in the decisions that impact their lives
About Comic Relief Comic Relief is a UK charity with a simple purpose -to create a just world, free from poverty. Comic Relief does this by funding and investing in amazing organisations across the UK and around the world to tackle some of the key issues of our time. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1.3 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, to improve countless lives. For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit www.comicrelief.comComic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)
Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) Sports Personality of the Year took place in Aberdeen for the first time at the new P&J Live Arena on Sunday, 15 December. Presenters Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan took to the stage to celebrate the year of sport in front of an audience of 10,000, with millions more watching live on BBC One.