Sir Dave Brailsford is a modern sporting genius. And Bloodwise is a great charity. So I hopefully won’t need to give too hard a sell to get some of you to come along to hear the former talk about his life and times, and raise money for the latter in the process. November 25, London.
I got involved with Bloodwise for the same reason most people who haven’t been diagnosed themselves get involved: someone close to me – in my case two people close to me – died from leukaemia. My best friend John Merritt died of the disease in 1992 and in the most horrible of coincidences, so did his beautiful nine-year-old daughter Ellie, just six years later.
As Bloodwise Chairman of Fundraising, I’ve been involved in 'An Audience With…' since the very beginning and it’s one charity event not to be missed. It was the brainchild of my literary agent, leukaemia survivor Ed Victor. Plundering his, my and Alan Yentob’s contacts books, we have brought audiences a unique insight into the lives of some of the most impressive A-list people in entertainment, starting with Mel Brooks, and including since then Kevin Spacey, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly, Miranda and Jo Brand. Nothing and nobody but the best, as befits a charity devoted to standards of excellence in all it does.
So far this event has been a resounding success, adding a useful new fundraising stream. Simply by selling tickets to members of the public who want to hear people they are interested in, we have raised over £180,000 for Bloodwise, or Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as it was known when we started out on this journey,
This year, a slight change in tack, moving from arts to our first audience with a top sports figure. Dave Brailsford is the man who took British cycling from also rans to best in the world, and who built the team to deliver the first ever British winner of a Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins, and the second, Chris Froome, who has now won it twice.
I have known Dave since the early days of this extraordinary transformation, and have spent many hours listening to him explain just how he did it. He is one of the big contributors to my book on the subject of winning, WINNERS AND HOW THEY SUCCEED. He is a remarkable man with a remarkable story to tell. From a young man struggling to make it as a cyclist in France to a world-renowned and respected leader and innovator in sport, associated forever now with the concept of ‘marginal gains’, Dave has become a British success story all of his own. And I am thrilled that he has agreed to share that story in front of a live audience, and help Bloodwise in the process.
Even without realising it perhaps, Dave has helped us already. The success on the track and on the roads has been one of the factors behind the surge in cycling as a participation sport, which has led to a similar surge in demand for places on our own bike events, like the annual London to Paris ride, or our London and Birmingham Bikeathons.
But I also know that Dave’s success with British Cycling and Team Sky has within it lessons for other walks of life, business for example, culture, and, dare I suggest, politics too. His success has been built on answering the simple question – how can we make people ride a bike faster? But the answers have relevance that go well beyond the velodrome or the mountain stages of the Tour de France.
The Royal Institution in London, home of the Christmas Lectures, will provide a beautiful and historic auditorium for the evening where first I, and then you, will have the chance to ask him anything you like. Knowing him as I do, I can promise you will be both entertained and inspired.
So don’t miss this one-off chance to meet one of British sport’s greats on November 25. .