What goes around comes around
No-one in the local area can deny that C.J. Thorne and Co. Ltd. is one of those companies who like to do their bit for the community. In fact, in November 2019 they were presented with an award entitled ‘Give Back to the Community’ at the Uckfield FM Community Awards, in recognition of many years of providing the town’s Christmas tree, providing vehicles for the annual Uckfield Carnival and supporting numerous local causes.
One such cause is an inspirational young sportsman by the name of Jamie Bedwell. CJ Thorne have been providing sponsorship for him since 2017, as he has continued to progress as a young triathlete.
Having played a wide range of sports as a youngster, including rugby, it was almost by chance that he found himself trying out for a local youth triathlon at the age of 14, after being handed a leaflet at school. Despite, in Jamie’s words, ‘doing terribly’ in the trial – swimming mainly breast-stroke and falling off his bike – he loved the experience and decided to take things further by joining a local triathlon club. It all became a more serious endeavour by the time Jamie was leaving Uckfield College at the end of his GCSEs. Rather than staying at Uckfield’s 6th Form he decided to study Sports Science at the Eastbourne campus of Sussex Downs College, which was close to his training ground, and so began the arduous and punishing daily training schedule where his day would begin before sunrise and involve a lift to and from Lewes Station from Dad, as well as several miles of cycling between the station, the training ground and the college campus.
Needless to say, all that hard work paid off and his training has taken him from strength to strength, regularly competing on the British Triathlon circuit.
When the time came, Jamie chose the Eastbourne Campus of Brighton University as his uni choice, studying Podiatry. It seemed an obvious direction to follow. He had experienced podiatry treatment himself, as an athlete; he’d learned things from his part-time job at Clarke’s Shoes; plus, his Mum is a podiatrist!
Fast forward to today and Jamie is a 21 year old married man, a graduate and a fully qualified, working podiatrist, still training hard with his sights set on one day representing Great Britain at the summer Olympic Games, but getting where he is today has had its trials and tribulations. A few weeks after starting his degree course he was involved in a terrible road accident whilst out for a run. The driver of a 4×4 vehicle failed to see him and he suffered multiple injuries, including two broken vertebrae. Jamie was determined to remain positive about what the future held, and his positivity and support from family and friends helped him through.
His physical recovery was remarkably quick and he was back in the swimming pool a month later. However, Jamie admits his emotional recovery was probably not too healthy. “Looking back, I think I was caught up in a whirlwind of what was going on.” It wasn’t until about 18 months later, at a sports therapy acupuncture session, that things came to a head and he found himself in tears. Since that moment, he has spent a lot of time coming to terms with everything and working out what is important to him, helped by counselling and a belated honeymoon in Canada in October 2019 with his wife, Abi.
He is still passionate about his sport, but acknowledges that there must be a proper balance between home life, family time, work and training. “I want to do sport, but I don’t want to be trapped in sport as my identity.” He works 3 days a week in the NHS and one day at his Mum’s clinic, giving him one full day in the working week for training in addition to training before and after work and at the weekends.
Dealing with patients also helps to keep him grounded. After several years of being involved within the sport Jamie tries his best not to get too hung up on missing the occasional session.
At the end of the 2019 season, Jamie took another step closer to reaching his goal of competing in the European Cup series. The 2020 season will see him continuing to fit in approximately 20 hours a week of training for the British Series, and he feels he’s in a good place physically and emotionally to face challenges that the season brings. If he qualifies for the European Cup series, this will offer him the opportunity to progress from the Under 23 category to becoming a senior athlete and, more importantly, another step closer to competing in the Olympic Games.
Jamie’s Olympic ambitions are not his only motivation for success. He yearns to do something good and feels that, should he ever achieve fame as a sportsman, he wants to inspire change as a role model to a growing society, both locally and around the world and use his fame for positive influence. He is already campaigning to raise awareness about the use of plastics in the cycling industry. “In sport, if people know who you are, follow your journey, put their trust in you, then you have a platform to enable massive change. It also becomes less about you when you have a community invested in believing in you.” said Jamie. “Everything I want to achieve isn’t just about my efforts. It’s also thanks to support and the community that I have the chance to achieve my goals. I love the idea that I can take the support I have received and bring it around full circle.”
Sponsorship from C.J. Thorne & Co. over the past two and a half years has helped go towards Jamie’s coaching, travel, race fees, new kit and a new bike frame. This year’s sponsorship is going towards a new set of carbon wheels for his bike. They’re lightweight and aerodynamic and will last for many years to come.
Jamie said “I’m so grateful to Thornes. As I see it, they’re a great example of giving back to the community and part of the inspiration for what I’d like to do in the future.”
C.J. Thorne’s Managing Director, Chris Thorne said “When I first met him I was very impressed with Jamie’s maturity and determination and it was a straightforward decision to support him – watching him overcome the adversity of when he was knocked down and seriously injured has been inspiring, and his steady progress over the last couple of seasons is testament to his self-belief and desire to succeed. We are proud as a business to be associated with him.”
One thing is certain… Jamie Bedwell is an extraordinary young man and everyone at C.J. Thorne and Co. looks forward to following his progress with a close eye.