Paralympic Gold Medallist, Helene Raynsford, supports our BRIT Ambassador family
We are thrilled that Paralympic Gold Medallist, Helene Raynsford is part of our BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health throughout the UK. Helene has been a constant source of advice, guidance and inspiration over the past three years and a great friend to our BRIT family.
In the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, rowing made its debut appearance at the Games. Helene became the first ever Paralympic Champion in the sport.
"The delivery of the annual BRIT Challenge is close to my heart having lost my closest friend to suicide and having seen the challenges faced by people of all ages struggling with poor mental health.
All of us will be affected by emotional wellbeing challenges at some point in our lives. I encourage athletes from every sport to unite and join the BRIT Ambassador family. By visiting a university or college of their choice during February and sharing their lived experience, BRIT Ambassadors will inspire teams to participate, champion inclusivity, help destigmatise mental health and it is also a super opportunity to share what our sports have to offer with students.
It’s great to see that the BRIT Challenge is inclusive so that students and staff of all abilities are able participate in many different ways.
I wish every university, college and specialist college team the very best of luck with their distance and fundraising efforts.
I hope the BRIT Challenge will also help make conversations about our mental health easier and that young people realise they are not alone."
Paralympic Gold medallist
Helene trained at the Royal Ballet School before an injury ended her chances of becoming a professional dancer. She went on to complete a degree in Biochemistry at Royal Holloway, University of London and at the age of 21, sustained a disability that left her needing the use of a wheelchair.
Helene returned to Royal Holloway, University of London to complete a Masters in Human Neuroscience and more recently, completed a Masters in Public Health at King's College, London.
Before taking up rowing Helene was a member of the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team from 2003 until 2006 and won two Paralympic World Cup silver medals in the sport.
Helene took up rowing after seeing the sport in person for the first time at Dorney Lake in 2005 and competed in the National Championships that year.
In May 2006, Helene gained selection into the British Rowing World Championships team and went on to become World Champion in the arms-only single sculls and set a World Record in the process.
At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Helene became the first ever Paralympic Champion in the sport, winning the women's single sculls by a 12-second margin in a time of 6 minutes 12.93 seconds.
In April 2010, Helene announced her retirement from rowing.
Helene joined the The British Paralympic Association (BPA) Athletes’ Commission in 2013 and was elected as its new Chair in 2018. The BPA’s Athletes’ Commission comprises twelve Paralympians and seeks to represent a balance of summer and winter sport, male and female athletes and a range of impairments. For more information on the BPA Athletes' Commission, please visit the BPA website.
Helene looks forward to encouraging and supporting students and staff at Royal Holloway, University of London and King's College, London, as they take on the BRIT Challenge.
Helene is also encouraging fellow Olympians, Paralympians and sports personalities to unite with us so that every UK university and college has a BRIT Ambassador to encourage student and staff participation in the annual BRIT Challenge.