During my 33 year career in the British Army, in my off duty time, I developed a passion for the mountains, skiing, ski racing and instructing in the sport. My four children, now in their 20s and 30s, were also gripped by my enthusiasm for snowboarding and skiing, and we would head to the hills as they turned white each winter. So five years ago, it seemed a natural move when I retired from military work, to renovate our chalet in the Portes du Soleil and make it our family home. I live in Saint Jean D’Aulps with my wife Lynn, and we spend our time walking, skiing and getting involved in many of the local community activities here.
And it was through our participation in MADHouse, the local Amateur Dramatics group, where we first met Tony Soutter. Tony played the estimable and comedic Wizard, to my cowardly lion in our production of The Wizard of Oz – and we became firm friends. Ellie obviously came to watch and support her Dad in various productions and, although I only knew her personally in this context, it was easy to see she was a vibrant character and loving daughter.
When Ellie died, like so many people, we were overwhelmed by the sadness and futility of the situation. It was heart breaking to see our friend Tony in distress, yet at the same time, we were amazed to see his growing strength and determination – a determination to find purpose in his loss and seek ways to prevent this from happening to other talented young athletes in the future. I learnt more about his vision for the Foundation when my wife and I helped Tony run his stand at the British Ski Show in October 2018. It was clear from the winter sports professionals and the general public that there was a genuine concern for the wellbeing of our young athletes. It was there that he asked me to join the team, to help create a dynamic, pro-active Foundation which would relieve pressure on athletes through financial assistance and mental welfare support. I was honoured to be asked, and delighted to get involved with a group of motivated and talented people … and we have much work to do!
As with any successful charity or foundation, we will have to spread the word and market our Vision Aims and Goals effectively. Without considerable charitable funding, we will not be able to fulfil our core task – that of supporting athletes to achieve greatness for Team GB, whilst reducing the tremendous stresses and pressures that high level competition can bring to these individuals. I look forward wholeheartedly to this challenge.