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  • Writer's picturePhil Packer

Paralympic Gold Medallist, Naomi Riches MBE, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that Naomi has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.

Born in 1983, Naomi Riches was just 8 weeks old when she was diagnosed with a visual impairment.  Her parents knew immediately that this would throw up many challenges and difficulties; however they didn’t realise then that their child would not let her disability stand in her way.  At the age of 12, Naomi was National Disabled Swimming Champion.

During her years in mainstream school in Middlesex, Naomi was severely bullied for her impairment yet she stuck to her dream which was to be an artist.  She attended the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) College in Worcester (where she took up rowing) and graduated from Buckinghamshire New University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in metalwork and jewellery design.

In 2004, Naomi was offered the chance to join Great Britain’s Adaptive Rowing Team, she seized this opportunity.  Finally, this was something she could do because of her visual limitation rather than being told she couldn’t because of it. 

Shortly after competing in her first World Championship in 2004, Naomi was involved in a horrific road traffic accident.  This left her with multiple fractures including skull fractures and broken ribs, she spent a week in an induced comas. Naomi’s recovery was based on her overwhelming desire to compete at the 2005 World Rowing Championships, which she did winning the Gold Medal.

Over the next ten years Para-rowing developed into a full time Lottery Funded Paralympic Sport.  Naomi competed in the Mixed Coxed Four winning six World Championship Gold Medals, a Paralympic Bronze Medal in Beijing and at the London 2012 Games she became Paralympic Champion.  

As a result of the success in London, Naomi and her crew were awarded MBEs in February 2013. 

Throughout her career Naomi has faced various challenges, as all athletes do, but her determination along with her ability to adapt and to see the positives in the world around her has kept her fighting. 

In 2013 Naomi retired from International Rowing, she is now motivating and inspiring others with her incredible story. 

In 2016, Naomi became the first woman to row the length of the River Thames and completed the challenge in under 48hours.

"Charities that support young adults need help to raise vital funds and this is why BRIT exists; to unite in support of young adult mental health. I know Student Unions and students have amazing energy, enthusiasm and determination when it comes to raising funds for great causes.

BRIT’s 2021 Challenge is a 2021 feel-good fundraiser that enables students to take part wherever they are; on campus or at home. It’s a great way of improving mental health and fitness, raising vital funds and having fun.

The Challenge has been designed to enable university and colleges to register teams, follow the link to set up a Giving Page and then encourage their whole student population to take part by adding their individual miles to a team 2,021mile total and raising funds in the process. It is not a sport event; it’s a very simple and inspirational feelgood fundraising challenge for students to take part safely by following guidance from their university, college and of course, COVID-19 Government guidelines.

I’m delighted to support BRIT as an Ambassador and look forward to encouraging students at New Buckinghamshire University during their BRIT 2021 Challenge.”

Naomi Riches MBE

Paralympic Gold Medallist

Paralympic Gold Medallist, Naomi Riches MBE, joins our BRIT Ambassador family

Naomi will be supporting students and staff at Buckinghamshire New University and will also encourage fellow current and retired Paralympians to join the BRIT Ambassador family.


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