The event started with some jokes, a reference to the dreadful London weather, and an introduction making light of how long the guest of honour’s full title has grown in recent years.
This was Laureus Academy Member Tanni Grey-Thompson, or, officially, as she told those gathered, The right honourable the Baroness Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe DBE.
Formal as that sounds, this was a relaxed event in London at which employees of Laureus UK Country Patron PruHealth could put questions to Tanni to learn more about a remarkable life that saw her win 16 Paralympic medals.
Tanni entertained the audience with tales from her early life as a wheelchair racer, to her incredible Paralympic achievements up to her current work in the UK House of Lords and with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
One question put to Tanni asked about her most life-changing moment.
The answer took Tanni back to 2009, and the audience heard about her emotional visit to Rwanda with Laureus and the lasting effect the experienced had on her.
Having arrived in Rwanda, Tanni explained, her first appointment on the visit with Laureus was to the genocide memorial.
Looking back to that day, she said: “It’s changed so many things in how I look at life now. I was told about how children were injured, how they died, how men had legs cut off or their tendons slit.
“Then, right at the end of the memorial, there were pictures of children just eight or nine years old. This was the age my daughter was at the time. The memorial explained how they died. I remember sitting there crying my eyes out.
“Then we went straight to a sports project. A place where people, victims, from opposing sides [of the Rwandan Civil War] come together to play sitting volleyball.
“It was amazing to see.”
The employees of PruHealth were enraptured by Tanni’s stories and many questions were put to her following her talk. It was a great opportunity for those gathered to learn more about Laureus through Tanni’s experiences as a Laureus Academy Member.
Many thanks to Tanni for what was a truly memorable event.