England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham to cross Sri Lanka on latest epic walk to raise funds for charity
England cricket legend and Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sir Ian Botham is to cross Sri Lanka on his latest epic walk to raise funds for charity.
Since the mid-1980s, Sir Ian has taken part in a series of high profile walks, including John O’Groats to Land’s End, the Nine Valleys in Wales and the Hannibal Walk in the Alps, but he admits that his bid to walk throughout Sri Lanka from Mankulum in the north to Seenigama in the south is his most daunting yet.
He said: “It’s going to be like nothing I have ever attempted before. It’s going to be arduous in the extreme, with fierce heat in challenging tropical conditions. It’s a tough schedule to keep up, but I am determined to make a success of it. I have really strong connections with Sri Lanka and I know if I can raise a lot of money it is going to do so much good for young people there.”
After the Tsunami of 2004, which devastated parts of the country, killed 35,000 people and displaced over 500,000, Sir Ian went to Sri Lanka, on behalf of Laureus, to assess the situation and see what could be done to help. He saw how the creation of a sports-based project in the town of Seenigama could play a significant role in the rebuilding of the community.
Since then Laureus has worked with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka by providing funds and expertise to help build sports facilities and supply coaching for young people in the rural communities. Seenigama Sports has helped the region to recover its community spirit and rebuild lives, especially through the love of cricket.
Now, many years on, following the ending of the country’s civil war, Laureus, working again with the Foundation of Goodness, is supporting the creation of a second project, this time in the town of Mankulum, in the north of the country, helping children from the two communities to play sport together and to learn to live in harmony.
Sir Ian said: “Sri Lanka is a country that has had many problems to cope with and I am delighted to do what I can to help. Funds raised from the walk will go to help the two Foundation of Goodness projects and the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.”
The official launch of Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk, which will take place from 1 to 8 November, was at The Grange Hotel near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, attended by Sri Lankan cricket star Kumar Sangakkara, former British Paralympic star Tanni Grey-Thompson and former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev, both Laureus Academy Members.
Kumar Sangakkara, who is a trustee of the Foundation of Goodness, said: “Ian has shown amazing friendship for the people of Sri Lanka over the years and everyone is delighted that he will be staging his next walk here.
“The Foundation of Goodness does amazing work for young people and this has been recognised by Laureus who have given us such valuable support and encouragement over the years.”
Sir Ian also paid tribute to the supporters and sponsors of the walk, SriLankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Tourism, Paradise Vacations UK, who will be providing packages for enthusiasts who want to join him for the walk, with part of the proceeds going to Laureus, and Grange Hotels, who have been supporting all the planning stages and who will be continuing to support Laureus through Foundation for Goodness and the Murali Harmony Cup.
SriLankan Airlines is the official travel partner of Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk and Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe commented: “We are delighted to support Sir Ian Botham and his team in their fundraising efforts by providing flights to Sri Lanka. The walk will be no mean feat, even for an experienced walker like Sir Ian. We are also delighted to provide additional fundraising including prizes for an online auction to support the admirable work of Laureus in Sri Lanka.”
Sir Ian said: “A great many organisations and people have been working hard for a long time to put my Sri Lanka Walk together and I would like to thank them. They have all shown their commitment to help young people and I could not be here launching the walk today without them.”
Sir Ian Botham is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a unique association of the greatest living sports legends, who volunteer their time to support the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which works to improve the lives of children around the world. Since its inception, over €60 million has been raised and more than one-and-a-half million young people have received help. Currently Laureus supports more than 140 sports-based programmes in 34 countries.
The Foundation of Goodness was set up in 1999, to provide essential services to the village of Seenigama. Since then, a committed team has been working together to uplift the lives of rural communities in Sri Lanka. The Foundation of Goodness has rebuilt communities destroyed by the 2004 Asia Tsunami and is now using its expertise to transform lives following the end of 30 years of conflict in the country. So far the Foundation of Goodness has improved the lives of more than 25,000 people in 50 villages.
Anyone that wants to sponsor Beefy can donate online at www.beefysbigsrilankawalk.com
Pix by Rohan Herath