Posts

Carson and Champion join sports figures in urging over-70s to get Covid-19 vaccine

Willie Carson and Bob Champion have put their weight behind the push to encourage people aged 70 and over to receive their coronavirus vaccination.

Five-time champion Flat jockey Carson, 78, and 72-year-old Champion, who recovered from cancer to win the Grand National on Aldaniti in 1981, have both had their first jab from the NHS – and urge others to follow suit.

Carson said: “Four weeks ago I got one of the best phone calls I’ve received this year – the appointment for my first coronavirus vaccination at Cirencester Hospital. I encourage everyone to get it quick – make a nuisance of yourself! The jab will make you safer.”

Your first 30 days for just £1

Carson and Champion, who will receive their second dose within 12 weeks, are in the top four priority groups that has accounted for 88 per cent of Covid deaths.

Champion said: “Last week I was very excited going to my GP surgery to receive my vaccination from the surgery nurse. It is wonderful to have thousands of doctors, nurses and volunteers helping to make us safe and hopefully get us back to some normality in the near future.”

Other sporting heroes such as 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, former England manager Roy Hodgson, former England cricketer David Lloyd and 1969 Wimbledon women’s singles winner Ann Jones have been helping the Government to get the message across.

Lord’s Cricket Ground is just one of more than 80 elite and grassroots sport venues that have been partly converted into either a large vaccination centre or GP-led service in support of the vaccine rollout – with a number of racecourses, including Newbury and Epsom, playing their part.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media during a visit to the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of Epsom
Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media during a visit to the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of Epsom (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Sports have played a magnificent role in helping us fight this virus, from hosting test centres, to providing food to frontline workers, to calling older fans at risk of loneliness.

“And now venues such as Lord’s are helping deliver the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in Britain’s history.

“Our elderly have shown us the way by enthusiastically rolling up their sleeves, so let’s keep this going. I urge any over 70s to join our sports legends and contact the NHS if they haven’t had the vaccine yet.

“The vaccine will save lives, livelihoods and get us back to the things we love.”

Champion and Rust receive New Year Honours

Grand National-winning jockey Bob Champion has been made a CBE for his charitable services to prostate and testicular cancer research.

There is also recognition in the New Year Honours list for Nick Rust, the outgoing chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority – who has received an OBE for services to the sport.

The Bob Champion Cancer Trust has raised £15million since it was founded in 1983, two years after the jockey made a remarkable recovery from cancer to win the world’s greatest steeplechase on Aldaniti at Aintree.

Bob Champion and Aldaniti return after their famous Grand National triumph in 1981
Bob Champion and Aldaniti return after their famous Grand National triumph in 1981 (PA)

The trust raises funds for the Bob Champion Cancer Research Laboratory – part of the largest male-dedicated research facility in Europe, situated at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton – as well as for the Bob Champion Research and Education Building at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

Champion admits he was totally taken aback when he was told he was to receive the honour.

“I’m absolutely chuffed to death. It was a big surprise to me,” he said.

“I got an MBE quite a long time ago, when I won the National, but this is for my cancer trust.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“It’s for everybody that works and has been involved in it and for the people that have supported it through the years.

Bob Champion in his Aldaniti colours before the John Smith’s Aintree Legends Charity Race on Grand National Day at Aintree in 2011
Bob Champion in his Aldaniti colours before the John Smith’s Aintree Legends Charity Race on Grand National Day at Aintree in 2011 (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“They have done so much for me, racing especially, and we’ve got the two research laboratories up and running – and they are doing a great job. We’ve got to keep raising the money to run them. Science costs money.

“We’re very fortunate we’ve got some top people working in there – and they are coming up with results, which is the main thing.”

For all charities, 2020 has been a tough year to raise money because of the many constraints of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a struggle this year – every charity is finding it difficult,” added Champion.

“Hopefully, this time next year things could be back to normal.”

Champion recalled how the cancer trust came to be set up, soon after his and Aldaniti’s famous victory.

“When I won the National quite a lot of people backed me and they sent their winnings to the Royal Marsden Hospital, care of me,” he said.

“Nick Embiricos, Aldaniti’s owner, and Professor Peckham, my specialist, thought it would be a good idea to set something up.

“Then quite a lot more money came in, so we thought we’d better start being professional. We went from there, and we’ve raised a lot of money.

“That money is going the right way. That is the main thing – with the two laboratories we’ve built and run coming up with the goods.

“Hopefully we’re going to keep helping a lot of people.

“We’ve raised money in different methods and ways, and that’s down to the people in this country. They are amazing, and it’s not just the racing side.”

BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust has been awarded an OBE
BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust has been awarded an OBE (Victoria Jones/PA)

Rust, meanwhile, steps down as head of the BHA after nearly six years leading racing’s governing body and regulator.

During his tenure, he has dealt with a range of issues – including significant change in the Levy, a review of the buying and selling of horses, improvements to horse welfare, the challenge of increasing diversity and inclusion and, this year of course, a pathway through the coronavirus pandemic which halted racing’s calendar for two months in spring and early summer.