2021 RPMF Grant Awards

2021 marks the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, following the death of Ron Pickering in February of 1991. Since that time the RPMF has been able to support thousands of young athletes with Grants totaling more that £2 million, but at one point in 2020, due to the impact of the Covid Pandemic on our Fundraising activities, the RPMF was not only concerned that it would not be able to support any athletes in 2021, but for its very survival.

It was only because of the incredible efforts of our “Ronners” that were due to run in the 2020 London Marathon, but instead chose to take part in various “Virtual” running events and continue to raise money for us during the Pandemic, that we are able to offer any Grants this year. While we have had to reduce the Total amount of the Grants awarded this year compared to recent years, and the individual levels of the Grants awarded, due to the reduced funds available to us, we are pleased that we were still able to help as many athletes as we did.

In what proved to be a difficult year for all athletes, we knew that we would have a great demand for support from RPMF and we received over 450 applications during October and November of 2020.  Without a normal competition season to judge our selections on, and with all athletes impacted by the lockdown and lack of access to facilities for virtually every athlete, the selection process was made much more complicated than usual. We are thankful that the RPMF Trustees that make up the Grants Committee were able to take part in a 9 hour zoom meeting to go through all the applications and give them all the consideration they deserve.

As a result, the RPMF was able to award a total amount of nearly £30,000 in grants to 196 talented young British athletes, including some that also contracted the Coronavirus themselves and suffered through the impact on their bodies.  We were thankful that relatively few athletes themselves had be affected in this way, but many were of course impacted within their families and the mental stress that this brought on the athletes was also evident.

Among the grant recipients this year were a number of young athletes that made a major step forwards and put themselves into contention for Tokyo Olympic selection:  These included sprinters:  Amy Hunt and Charlie Dobson, Hurdler: Lucy-Jane Matthews; middle distance talents Keeley Hodgkinson, Isobel Boffey, George Mills and Oliver Dustin, young throwers that made an impact at UK Champs: Charlotte Payne and Lewis Byng, Jumpers making good progress: Reynold Banigo and Kelechi Agoucha and the next generation of female Multi-Eventers: Holly Mills and Jodie Smith.

It is still disappointing for us to see that the number and quality of applications from the Para-Athletics sector is still lower than we would like to see, we were pleased to be able to help 10 Para-Athletes this year, including Race Runners Gavin Drysdale and Kayleigh Haggo.

With 99 male and 97 female recipients there was a pretty even distribution and with just over 32% of the recipients were aged 17 or under, a further 37% aged 18-19 years with the remaining 31% aged 20yrs or over, there was good distribution across both age and sex.

Distribution among events groups was: Sprints/Hurdles: 27%, Middle Distance 18%, Endurance: 8%, Jumps: 16%, Throws: 15% and Multi-Events: 10%, and 6% from the Para-Athletics sector.

Athletes from over 100 Clubs received support.  It was nice to see that the same club that produced former RPMF Grant Recipient, Dina Asher-Smith:  Blackheath & Bromley AC, led all clubs with 10 successful applications, including James Whiteaker, who led UK Javelin rankings in 2020.  Other clubs where multiple athletes received awards were Sale Harriers Manchester, with 8 recipients, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers with 7 athletes and Birchfield Harriers with 6 recipients.   It was also good to see Wheelchair Racing club, Red Star had 4 athletes that received RPMF Grants this year.

You can find the full list of the 2020 grants recipients here.