Well it is not all hard work and no play when you are on the Cycle Slam. After a tough Day One ride battling all of natures elements, the evening brought an unexpected opportunity to live it up – when we visited the Bollinger champagne house for a private function. So what’s the connection with charity I hear you ask?
Before I answer that question, I want to tell you a little more about the charities that the event is fund raising for. Previous blog posts have covered the Dallaglio Foundation and their sponsorship of research into Prostrate Cancer, but what about the AF Foundation, set up by Andrew and Rachel Flintoff?
Well I rode with them on day one and, during our 8 hour cycling stint, had the opportunity to chat with Rachel about the charity. Basically it all started following Freddie’s benefit year where Lancashire cricket raised over £1M. Having recovered from several injuries himself, he was very aware of the need for excellent physio and rehab facilities. When a friends child needed the same type of support, it became very apparent to the Flintoff’s that whilst the local NHS staff were excellent, the facilities they were using were not. So they set about funding the blueprint design and development of a new physio and rehab unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
With a recipe for success now in place, the proceeds from the Cycle Slam will be focused on replicating these facilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The vision is then to roll out further units across the country at places like Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle. An ambitious plan, but one through the drive and determination of its founders certainly deserves to succeed, as the following Slam TV video confirms:
Please donate now if you can. Together we can help improve children’s recovery from serious illness.
So back to the Champagne question. Well part of the answer lies in the fact that Andrew Hawes, who heads up Bollinger’s operation in the UK, was a participant rider on Stage 4. He also stayed with the Slam on the first couple of days of Stage 5 in order to facilitate the 130 Slammers being able to visit the Bollinger facilities in the village of Ay and enjoy an evening’s hospitality. And very, very good it was too!
The second part of the answer to my question became clear during the presentations that take place after every evening meal on the Slam. Having read Lawrence Dallaglio’s biography whilst on holiday earlier this month, I knew that he is a lover of fine wine. And so in July, the Dallaglio Foundation will be launching a wine club, selling (yes, you guessed it)… Bollinger…. with the profits going to the charity.
Ah ha, now it all makes sense, with a 130 people in the room a captive audience to buy and promote these products when we get home. I have a 50th birthday coming up this summer, and now I know what to ask my wife Louise to buy me as a present. Very subtle marketing me thinks!