SPOFFORTHS, the well-known firm of chartered accountants and professional advisers, welcomed swimming champion Gemma Spofforth back to the UK with a special event in Chichester on Monday (December 19).
The 23-year-old is home for Christmas following a swimming competition, Duel in the Pool, in Atlanta.
To mark her return, Spofforths hosted “An Olympic Evening” with Gemma at the Minerva Theatre in Oaklands Park.
Her father Mark Spofforth, a partner at the firm, opened the show. The audience enjoyed watching Gemma appear on stage and take part in a live interview with fellow Olympian and former GMTV presenter Andrew Castle.
They discussed Gemma’s gold medal win in 2009 and her hopes ahead of London 2012.
During the second half of the show, Olympian Mark Foster talked about his time mentoring the British swimming team throughout the Beijing Olympics and he went on to express his hopes for the swimming team next year.
Gemma was delighted to receive such a warm welcome as she took to the stage and said: “I enjoyed taking part in the show and would like to thank Spofforths for organising such a fantastic event.
“It was wonderful to receive so much support from the crowd and it has given me a huge boost ahead of the Olympic trials in March. I really appreciated the opportunity to share my experiences with the audience and two fellow Olympians. Both Andrew and Mark are truly inspirational people who have achieved great things.”
Mark Spofforth, who is based at Spofforths’ Chichester office, added: “Gemma has dedicated much of her life to swimming and I was so proud to watch her on stage this evening. She has achieved so much for such a young person and I am really proud of her. This event has helped Gemma to focus on the year ahead and she knows that she has the support of Sussex behind her.”
Spofforths partner Adrian Pearce added: “The evening was a success and it was great to be joined by such an enthusiastic audience.
“It was so interesting to hear about Gemma’s life story and her Olympic dream. Following the show, we held a special collection for Winston’s Wish, the leading childhood bereavement charity. It’s an appeal which is close to Gemma’s heart as her mother Lesley sadly passed away in 2007.”
Gemma still thinks of her mother each day and said: “I dedicate every race to my mum, without her I couldn’t have achieved so much.
“I’m looking towards 2012 as it’s a major a goal in my life. At the moment, I am dedicating my time to training and will do all I can to win a gold medal in home waters.”
Shoina Lloyd, community and events fund-raiser at Winston’s Wish, said: “Winston’s Wish is proud to have received support from Spofforths and their guests at the evening.
“Every penny raised will go towards the vital work that we do with bereaved children, young people and their families. We rely on kind and generous donations like these to reach over 30,000 children every year.”