Chariots of Fire Relay will help young people

Dr Andrew Harter CBE, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, this week introduced  Michael O’Toole, one of the UK’s most experienced social enterprise champions, to a relay race that will make a real difference to local young people.

Mr O’Toole recently took up his new role as Chief Executive of the Cambridge Community Foundation, the official charity selected by the organisers of the famous Chariots of Fire race which takes place on Sunday 16th September. It is one of the county’s most popular annual fundraising events, organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust.

Teams of six are sponsored by family, colleagues and friends to run a 1.6-mile relay around the historic heart of Cambridge and the Colleges. Last year 340 local businesses took part, raising £63,140 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.  

In 2018 the beneficiary will be the High Sheriff Award Scheme which gives grants via CCF to encourage young people to take part in local activities that benefit others, such as volunteering that develops life skills and confidence.

“Many of those the Scheme can help face real difficulties because of poor mental health, bereavement, long-term illness or disability. Others may have limited support and opportunities to develop and flourish because of low aspirations or very limited income level of their families,” Mr O’Toole explained. “The grants it awards can be life-changing.”

A bonus this year comes from a national initiative being run by community foundations: a fund called #iwill will match up to £30,000 for projects that encourage youth social involvement. This means that the first  £30,000 raised by Chariots of Fire will become £60,000 for the High Sheriff’s Fund to allocate.  

Dr Harter and his wife Lily Bacon, Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, are co-founders of the technology company RealVNC, which has a leading corporate social responsibility programme. Both regard volunteering and community engagement as essential to developing skills and improving self esteem amongst young people facing disadvantage.  

The money raised by Chariots of Fire will provide charitable groups throughout the county  with the funding, resources and support needed to engage young volunteers,” says Dr Harter. “This is why Lily and I support the race and the charity.”

Mr O’Toole who joined CCF from Mentor UK, which works to protect children and young people from the harm caused by drugs and alcohol, has 15 years experience in the charity sector and has been a volunteer with a range of community groups.

“By identifying local needs and inspiring philanthropy CCF can make a lasting difference across Cambridgeshire,” he says. “I am looking forward to taking part in the relay, seeing people of all ages making an effort in the interests of helping others. ”

To enter a team please visit https://www.chariots-of-fire.c...