Five awards made to mark the first anniversary of Jean Pickering’s death

To mark the first anniversary of Jean Pickering’s death, it was announced by the RPMF that five special awards were to be made to some of the country’s best talent, in order to help them achieve their goal of a place on Team GB for Rio 2016.


The Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarships have been awarded from the funds donated and raised in Jean’s name following her sad passing on March 25th, 2013.  It was important to the trustees that Jean’s great work since starting up the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund in 1991 was recognised in a way that was fitting of her own tremendous contribution to the sport of athletics. We felt that special awards in her name, to help some of our better talent achieve their own dreams and qualify for Team GB at Rio 2016, was an appropriate way for her desire to help athletes achieve in life to continue after her death.

 The beneficiaries of this Scholarship Fund were announced as:

Zane Duquemin, 22, Shot Put/Discus, Shaftebury Barnet. Coach John Hillier

Chris Kandu, 18, High Jump, Enfield And Haringey. Coach John Herbert

John Lane, 25, Decathlon, City of Sheffield. Coach Toni Minichiello

David Omoregie, 18, Hurdles, Cardiff AC.  Coach Michael Guest

Sophie Papps, 19, Sprints, Windsor Slough and Eton. Coach Dan Cossins

What was important to the trustees of the RPMF in selecting these athletes, who will be each receive a grant of £12,500 over the period from now untill Rio 2016 plus the support and mentorship of the RPMF Trustees and some of the athletes that the fund has supported since its inception in 1991, was that this support would truly make a difference to these athletes and the chances of them succeding in qualifying for Rio 2016. These athletes were identified for having not only the need, but also a clear idea of how this award would allow them to change their circumstances and approach a positive way to increase their chances of succeding in the sport.

It was the funding from the Great 12 Olympic Fund that allowed Robbie Grabarz to leave work and become an full time athlete to increase his chances of being successful in London 2012, before he had received any support from Lottery Funding or UKA, and similarly for Jack Green to forgo the offer of a scholarship to an American university and instead to move to Bath to train under Malcolm Arnold and alongside Dai Green, and it is hoped that this award will have a similar successful impact on these recipients.

A great debt is owed by the RPMF to Lady Victoria Leatham and the Drapers Company for the establishment of the Scholarship fund. Lady Victoria had become great friends with Jean since they both met at the England Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner, when Lady Victoria’s father, Lord Burghley, was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Ron Pickering.

This chance meeting led to the establishment of the Great 12 Livery Companies Olympic Fund together with the RPMF, which supported 21 young athletes in the lead up to London 2012. Of the 16 senior athletes selected, nine of them went on to represent Team GB at London 2012, with five of these making the finals and one of them, Robbie Grabarz, going in to win an Olympic bronze medal.

When Lady Victoria became the first Lady Master in the more than 700 year history of the Drapers Company she chose the RPMF as her chosen charity to support and also provided us with the opportunity to host a Night of Champions Fundraising Dinner in the Drapers Hall in the summer of 2013.  The proceeds of these great actions, together with donations received at Jeans funeral, were earmarked for something special to reflect Jean’s passion for the sport and the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarships were born.

Jean And Lady Victoria

Lady Victoria Leatham awarded Jean Pickering with the Freedom of the City of London in the summer of 2012.