Sport changing many lives in Kent
Sport changing many lives in Kent

Dozens of Kent businesses turned out for Kent Sports Trust’s inspirational Sport Changed My Life event.

Kent Sport Trust’s Sport Changed My Life event was held at the picturesque setting of KIMS Hospital near Maidstone, where local companies went to hear about how sport really has changed the lives for some Kent individuals and workforces.

The night was laid on to connect local business with the work that Kent Sports Trust does across the county, which includes working alongside companies such as South East Water.

Just a day after National Fitness Day – an event set up to inspire people to get active across the country – Kent Sports Trust started the evening by playing a brief video from two of its ambassadors, Dame Kelly Holmes DBE MBE and Ben Smith (who ran 401 marathons in 401 days), to explain why sport has changed their lives.

Ben Smith had spent last Wednesday going into 3 Kent schools with Kent Sports Trust, delivering inspirational assemblies and then joining the schoolchildren in a Daily Mile around their school grounds.

Mr Smith was also to pay a visit to Snodland-based South East Water, where Kent Sports Trust patron Lee Allen works. In the past few years, Mr Allen, from Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey, has not only got into running – losing almost 3 stones in the process – but has also gone on to set up a lunchtime running club at his employer’s.

On Wednesday, Mr Allen was joined by Ben Smith and over 30 other runners as they did their bit for National Fitness Day.

Mr Allen was to be one of the keynote speakers at the Sport Changed My Life event alongside colleague Zoë Verhaeren-Roper, who spoke about the benefits South East Water has seen since encouraging its workforce to be more active as part of its wellness policy.

Representing KIMS Hospital, Marcus Whiteley, the company’s Chief Operations Officer, then talked about how sport has changed his life for the better. Little over a week before, he and some of the KIMS Hospital team had completed the Three Peaks Challenge, raising money for the Heart of Kent Hospice.

Mr Whiteley was followed by Ben Rogers, who delivered a talk on how he ran an astonishing 365 marathons in 365 days, raising money for Pilgrims Hospices and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mr Rogers, from East Malling, began his challenge in April 2016 and completed it some 12 months later, running with hundreds of local people in the process.

The evening ended with 2 incredibly inspiring speeches from 2 of Kent Sports Trust’s patrons, Steve Craddock and Carol Ford.

Mr Craddock, from St Mary’s Island near Chatham, has already raised over £400,000 for charity Help for Heroes. As a former serving soldier, Mr Craddock explained how cycling had helped him with the effects of PTSD.

Meanwhile, Ms Ford, from Gillingham, told the audience how she had lost around 12 stones through hard work and determination, culminating in her being able to ride the 3-day, 220-mile Goatham’s Great Kent Cycle Ride and RideLondon in July.

Having explained his own sporting journey, CEO of Kent Sports Trust Steve Wolfe thanked those for attending while emphasising how important it is to lead an active lifestyle:

“I can’t thank enough all of those that supported us in what will be the first of many such Sport Changed My Life events.

“To have great local companies such as Flip Out Chatham, DayOne Wellness, The Great Outdoor Gym Company, and LEBC support us shows how the local business community can play its part in encouraging everyone to lead a better and healthier lifestyle.

“I’ve been on that journey myself, losing weight, gaining confidence, and being more active, and I think it’s important that we share the messages about how it’s good to be active and how we owe it to the next generation to be better role models.”

Dame Kelly Holmes DBE MBE needs no introduction and she spoke in her video about the benefits of being active:

“Sport changed my life because it gave me a purpose and a sense of self-belief when I was a child. It was my PE teacher that got me into sport and told me it was something I could focus on and be good at. I took her word and got into athletics and I suppose the rest is history.

“Sport doesn’t discriminate: you can be any age; size; shape; colour or creed; girl or boy… there’s something for everyone.”

Kent Sports Trust has 2 events coming up in the next few weeks: its golf day at Prince’s Golf Course on Tuesday 10th October and its annual gala ball at the QHotels Ashford International Hotel on the evening of Saturday 11th November.

To book your place(s) at these events, please click on the respective hyperlinks above or call the trust on 01634 820780.

Furthermore, you can support the Kent Sports Trust in getting more people across the county active by visiting its website or by calling the trust’s team on 01634 820780.