On Monday 27 March, Dame Kelly Holmes accepted a £20,000 donation from Southeastern on behalf of her charity, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, at an event held in the café that the British Olympian now owns in her home town of Hildenborough, Kent.
The Kent-born and resident athlete was presented with a cheque by David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, at Café 1809 – named after her race number worn at the Athens 2004 Games and opened three years ago on the 10th anniversary of her double-Gold winning success.
The £20k donation from Southeastern represents one third of the funding needed for two of her Trust’s new ‘Get On Track’ courses, which help transform the lives of disadvantaged young people by providing them with mentoring from world-class sportsmen and women.
President of the Trust, Dame Kelly Holmes said: “Today’s significant donation by Southeastern will support new projects in the region which will transform the lives of young people who need our support. What makes me most proud about the partnership is that Southeastern sees the complete picture.
“They don’t just support the Trust financially but also create opportunities for them to thrive in the workplace and empower others. I’m really proud to see young people here today who have been through a ‘Get on Track’ course and been given an opportunity by Southeastern to flourish.”
Martine Kydd (26) from Ramsgate, Lewis Travers-Smith (25) of Margate and Charlie Evans (22) who lives in Kent are three of the young people who have already gone through the course and since found employment with Southeastern. All three joined Dame Kelly at the event.
Martine, who now works as an Employability and Projects Officer with Southeastern said: “It’s inspiring to work with athlete mentors; they’ve done so much in their lives. To know that they've failed and got back up and done it, makes you realise that you can do it, no matter where you come from or how hard your life's been: if you want something, you can do it.
“From the Get on Track programme I've realised the confidence I had in myself; how much I could do if I really pushed myself and didn’t give up – the athlete mentors wouldn’t have let me give up if I’d have tried and it felt good to have that push behind me.”
David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, added: “Martine’s story is testament to the incredible work of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.Now we want to help Dame Kelly, who’s been just as inspirational off the track, and her Trust help more people like her.
“I know Dame Kelly is proud to call Kent home and we’re equally proud to support the communities in which we live and work. What’s brilliant is this money will stay within the area of our network and provide one third of the funding of not one, but two, new Get On Track courses.”
Having supported the charity since 2016, the train company has now made Dame Kelly Holmes Trust one of its two corporate charities after employees voted to support causes that help young people facing disadvantage on its network. It had already raised over £1,500 for the Trust through the fund raising efforts of its people and the generosity of passengers.
Sporting mentor, Triple world-champion sailor, Sam Brearey also joined Dame Kelly at the event.