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‘Pull Together for Matt’ – 1000km rowed in the College’s Front Quad!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

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People taking part in the ergathon, in St Edmund Hall's Front Quad
The ergathon in full flow (photo by Harris Vince)

Students moved 10 rowing machines into the College’s Front Quad for last Sunday’s fundraiser in support of Matt Greenwood, a St Edmund Hall undergraduate who is facing terminal cancer. St Edmund Hall students, staff and alumni were joined by rowers from many different Oxford colleges and the University’s Boat Club and Rugby Club as they attempted to row a million metres (1000km). The goal was reached after just over 7 hours of rowing!

The fundraising campaign has been driven by a desire to support Matt to live his dream of travelling the world. The money raised will help to pay for his wheelchair and prosthetics, and to cover the extra costs that come with travelling in his condition such as the need for a nurse or carer. Matt, who is 21, should have started his fourth year at Oxford University studying engineering this October, having achieved a First in his third year exams. Instead, he has had to abandon his studies after being diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. A former rugby player and active rower at Oxford, where he was vice captain of the St Edmund Hall Boat Club, Matt continues to do all he can to live his life to the full.

An online fundraising page was launched on 10 November, and the original target of £10,000 was reached in less than 4 hours. Over £21,000 had been raised after 24 hours, from more than 700 donors. The target was subsequently increased to £75,000.

Takashi Lawson, a friend of Matt and one of the main organisers of the fundraiser, said: “I was blown away by the level of support from across the College, University and alumni on Sunday, a true testament to Matt and his inspirational spirit in his fight against cancer. The one-million-metre target was ambitious, but with so much support and over 16 colleges participating, we managed to keep 10 rowing machines going for over 7 hours and achieve it! There was a great atmosphere – it’s times like these where I am proud to be at Teddy Hall.”

The time-lapse below gives a flavour of the ergathon, compressed to just under two minutes:

Donations to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mattgreenwood now stand at over £50,000 with 1600+ donors. A further £3284.24 was raised at Sunday’s event, which also included a huge bake sale and darts challenge. St Edmund Hall’s Principal, Professor Keith Gull, started the fundraising the weekend before, with a walk from the College boat house, and has raised a further £10,000 in New York where he has recently been attending alumni events and meetings. The College’s JCR (Junior Common Room, the undergraduate student body) has also made a £1500 donation.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, has also shown her support and said: “Matt Greenwood is a remarkable young man, facing a terrible situation with courage and determination. We are all enormously proud of him. My colleagues and I have been humbled and deeply moved both by Matt’s story, and by the response of his friends at St Edmund Hall. You are an inspiration to us all. I wish those raising money every success in their remarkable efforts, which I commend to your generosity.”

Acknowledgements and thanks

This event would not have been possible without the great support of many. We would like to thank:

  • all those who participated in the ergathon, donated and/or baked for the event
  • Takashi Lawson, Geordie Macleod, Ed Baker, George Spill, Graham Baird and Jon Connolly as the core team organising the event
  • Alex Davis, Catherine Canning and Mark Kelly for organising and running the Bake Fair
  • Chris Sealey, for organising ‘Bull together for Matt Greenwood’ in the Bar
  • Keith Gull for allowing us to use the Front Quad, and for all his help with the fundraising efforts
  • Darrell Barnes, and the Friends of the Boat Club, for their advice and support
  • Simon Costa, Jayne Taylor, Sue McCarthy, Mandy Estall and Kevin Ward for their advice and support on making the event a great success
  • Claire Hooper, Sally Smith and the Development & Alumni Relations team for helping to publicise the event
  • our College Chef, John McGeever, Bidvest and their suppliers for an endless supply of food and refreshments
  • Hayley Goodgame, for opening the Bar especially for the event
  • Tom Dyer, Linde Wester and Tony Liu for helping us reach every JCR/MCR in the University
  • Harry Hodges (SEH alumnus) for helping us reach national newspapers
  • Suzi Ardley and the University communications team, for helping to publicise the event
  • Savoir Faire for providing decking for the event, free of charge
  • Krispy Kreme for donating 600 doughnuts
  • Pembroke College Boat Club for providing us with extra marquees.