Andy Murray once again throws his weight behind charity fundraisers

Andy Murray is to express his fun side in aid of the serious cause of protecting children against disease

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis at Queen's Club

The wait is over…so excited for you guys to watch this. Text TEAM to 70007 to donate £3 to help children #BeatDisease Watch. Text. Share. To donate to UNICEF UK online click here: http://ow.ly/OjIrt Texts cost £3 plus 1 standard rate SMS. Unicef receives 100% of your donation. By texting you consent to future telephone contact from Unicef. To opt-out, please text NOCALL to 70007 or to see terms, please visit http://ow.ly/Ok2Zh

Posted by Andy Murray on Monday, 15 June 2015

Fans and admirers of Andy Murray have become familiar not just with his great achievements on court but his many charitable activities off court.

For behind the driven, dedicated athlete who has written fresh pages in British tennis record books, is a man who has quietly gone about many more altruistic activities behind the scenes.

His growing fame and profile, of course, mean that the impact he can have on fund-raising campaigns has increased beyond measure, but he has stayed loyal to a very special set of charities, ones that have a personal resonance.

One of them is the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. Murray’s grandfather served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and his great grandfathers were in the Royal Engineers and the RAF. And every year, his shirt at the World Tour Finals has a poppy woven into the arm.

At the end of last year, Murray received the ATP World Tour’s Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his work in raising funds and awareness for UNICEF, United for Wildlife, and Malaria No More. The next day, he announced a new role as global ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund, supporting the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade with sniffer dogs: the first two trained dogs are named after Murray and his wife, who themselves own two border terriers.

But the perhaps the closest to Murray’s heart are a whole range of cancer charities, and for the most personal of reasons.

In the last week of 2012, Ross Hutchins told close friend Murray that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. The British doubles specialist then began chemotherapy at The Royal Marsden, an organisation he went on to describe as his ‘second family’, and Murray wanted to contribute to its great work.

Thus came about Rally Against Cancer, a week of fundraising at the 2013 Aegon Championships. Little did any of those involved think that, a year later, they would be back to highlight the work of the Royal Marsden for another reason.

Former British No1 and long-standing friend Elena Baltacha, had died in May of liver cancer, so the fundraiser at Queen’s last year was dedicated to Rally for Bally, a charity that still continues.

This time around at Queen’s the theme is the same but the subject and the means slightly different. The recipient of a rather special raffle will be the St Peter and St James hospice in Sussex, which cared for a certain Gail Sargent until she died of ovarian cancer in 2010.

Sargent, a lifelong tennis player, had met Fred Perry on a visit to Maresfield Tennis Club in 1994, and he signed a tube of white tennis balls for her.

Over a decade later she watched a young Murray practising at a different tennis club, and was so impressed with his potential that she decided to give him the signed balls.

Murray and wife Kim take up the story on his website: “Fast-forward to the summer of 2013, and after the ghost of Fred Perry had been extinguished on Centre Court at Wimbledon, he somehow resurfaced in our home as we stumbled across Gail’s parcel that had been tucked away, waiting patiently.

“Instantly, Andy signed all three of the white balls and we realised that we had captured something unique.

“The tennis world and beyond has been rocked in recent years by the tragic loss of Elena Baltacha and, coupled with Ross Hutchins’ battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we are reminded that not one of us is immune to this horrible disease. So many charities work tirelessly to help those affected by all forms of cancer.”

The couple therefore came up with a new fundraising plan.

“The St Peter and St James hospice [which incidentally is marking its 40th anniversary this year] has been providing specialist care for patients for nearly 40 years, and is largely dependent on the generosity of the local community in order to fund its services. This year they need to raise more than £2.6 million. We have decided to raffle one of the signed tennis balls in Gail’s memory, with the entire proceeds donated to the hospice that cared for her in accordance with the wishes of her husband, Richard.”

A second ball will be displayed at Wimbledon’s Lawn Tennis Museum and Andy and Kim intend to keep the third ball.

That’s not all, though. As Murray began his Queen’s campaign, he launched another fundraising campaign, with one of those original organisations, UNICEF.

This time, he has been give the chance to express his fun side in aid of the serious cause of protecting children around the world against disease. In a video filmed on Queen’s own Centre Court, he is seen attempting to knock Jack Whitehall, Clare Balding and Liam Payne into shape in a ‘training’ session.

Do watch it, do donate—and do continue to admire the man behind that Grand Slam and Olympic racket.

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