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Red Funnel announces sponsorship of talented Island residents

Tue, Jan 23 2024

Red Funnel has announced the new cohort of teams and individuals it will be sponsoring as part of its ongoing Proud to Support initiative, which is dedicated to empowering the aspirations and talents of individuals living on the Isle of Wight. 

The initiative supports high performing individuals, groups, and clubs on the Island, from athletes and artists to performers, musicians and more. Red Funnel provides travel sponsorship for its chosen Island Ambassadors (individuals and groups up to six people) and Supported Teams (six+ members). 

In 2024 they are sponsoring 11 Island Ambassadors, which include a pro kite surfer and British kickboxing champion; six Junior Ambassadors featuring a nine-year-old dressage rider and 11-year-old competitive dancer, as well as nine Supported Teams, all of which will receive travel support to enable them to compete and perform at national events and venues. The talented Islanders have been shortlisted for their aptitude, brilliance, and dedication to their respective vocation. After receiving an unprecedented number of applicants, Red Funnel will also provide support to a further 9 talented applicants outside of the main scheme, to aid their transition from local to national competition and status. 

Talking about his selection for the 2024 cohort, Clint Gardner, Special Olympics Athlete, said: 
“Red Funnel’s support means that I can now further my chance to play Badminton nationally for my country, moving me closer to my goal of becoming a World Champion in my field. I’m proud to represent the Island in my sport and hope I can inspire others to follow their dream.”

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, added: “This year we received over 100 applications for our 2024 cohort, and it was a near impossible task for our team to shortlist the talented Island residents seeking travel support. 

“We’re proud of the enormous talent across the Isle of Wight community and are both honoured and excited to support so many incredible teams and individuals. All our ambassadors and teams are important to us, and we’re pleased to be able to help them to reach their ambitions at a national level. We cannot wait to see what they all do next.”

In 2023, Red Funnel supported Julie Platt and her Wightflight Siberian Husky team in their quest to attend and win more sled racing competitions, all held off Island. Red Funnel’s travel support enabled the team to more attend off-Island sled racing competitions, where they achieved podium positions and enter national showing events, such as Crufts.

Discussing the support from Red Funnel in 2023, Julie Platt said: 
“Becoming an Island ambassador allowed us to travel to more mainland competitions and training events than we would have been able otherwise, which really helped us achieve more good results. 

We are so pleased and proud to have been chosen to represent Red Funnel and the Isle of Wight for another year, it gives an enhanced sense of being part of a bigger team and an extra push to work harder and achieve even more.”

Red Funnel have long supported Islanders with travel for training and events, launching a their more structured Proud to Support initiative Starting in 2023, with the aim to provide a fairer application process and even more support to talented Isle of Wight residents. 

To find out more about the Proud to Support initiative, please visit: 

Meet the 2024 Island Ambassadors 

The Island Ambassadors:
Clint Gardner – Special Olympics Athlete (Badminton)
Coach Party – Indie Rock Band
Corey Kent – Autistic Jiu Jitsu Athlete
Dominic Marsh – Kickboxing Champion
Isabel Dominey – Freestyle Dancer
Josh Oddy – Pro-Golfer
rhirhi – Singer/Songwriter
Sarah Holmes – 4* Event Rider 
Tom Court – Pro Kite Surfer
Wightflight Siberian Huskies – Dog Sled Racing and Show Team
BB Racing – Supermoto Team 

The Junior Ambassadors: 
Esme Colley, 9 – Dressage Rider
Jack Scully – Syer, 15 – Speedway Rider
Jess Burfitt, 11 – Competitive Dancer
Liberty Lee, 8 – Gymnast
Rubi Harper, 14 – Showjumper
Toby Trotman, 15 – Tennis player

The Supported Teams: 
East Cowes Victoria Athletic Football Club
Isle of Wight Panthers Kickboxing Club
NAUT Cycling Club and Race Team
Solent Netball Team
Starlight Academy  
Vectis Equestrian Club
Ventnor Cricket Club
Ventnor Rugby Club
Wight Harmony

The Supported Talents: 
Abigail Whittington – Dog Agility
Emily Martin – Ballerina 
Freddie Giemza-Pipe – Indoor Rowing Champion
Joe Ramskill – Taekwondo Champion
Megan Marshall – Gymnastics Champion
Lunatrix – Pro-wrestler
Natalie Brougham – Dressage rider
Nina Ross – Jazz singer
The Pill – Indie Rock band