Great 12 Fund
In 2010 the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London agreed to a three-year joint charitable grant to the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to support 21 young British track and field athletes all under the age of 23 and who were not receiving any other financial support.
The Livery Companies have a tradition of patronage for cultural activities and education and a reputation for supporting those who have need. Subsequently, between 2009 and 2012, the companies injected around £150,000 to support the selected athletes.
The 21 chosen athletes were: David Bolarinwa, 100/200m; Jack Meredith, 110m hurdles; Andrew Pozzi, 110m hurdles; Jack Green, 400m hurdles; Annie Tagoe, 100/200m; Niall Brooks, 800m; Laura Weightman, 1500m; Charlotte Purdue, 5000/10,000m; David Guest, decathlon; Robbie Grabarz, high jump; Andrew Sutcliffe, pole vault; Kola Adedoyin, triple jump; Holly Bleasdale, pole vault; Katie Byres, pole vault: Merv Luckwell, javelin; Brett Morse, discus; Lawrence Okoye, discus; Sophie Hitchon, hammer; Freya Jones, javelin; Sophie McKinna, shot; Laura Whittingham, javelin.
The 2012 Olympics were the focus for the initiative although the 2016 Rio Games were the more realistic target. Of the athletes chosen for this support though, after just one year three of them – Holly Bleasdale, Sophie Hitchon and Lawrence Okoye – set UK records while that trio, plus seven others – Andrew Pozzi, Laura Weightman, David Guest, Robbie Grabarz, Merv Luckwell, Jack Green and Brett Morse made the London 2012 Olympic team.
Five of these made their event final and one, high jumper Robbie Grabarz, won a bronze medal.
The Ron Pickering Memorial Fund was also chosen as the Master’s Charity for special support in 2013 by the Drapers’ Company. Master Draper Lady Victoria Leatham had the original idea to support the Fund in recognition of her Father, the Marquis of Exeter, himself a Draper, who as Lord Burghley won the Olympic gold medal for the 400m hurdles in 1928.
The funds raised from this event helped fund the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarships