SIR JOHN RITBLAT AWARDED PERY MEDAL
20th September 2017 | James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
It is the highest award handed out by the Ski Club of Great Britain. But who is he? And what’s the Pery Medal anyway?
Sir John has done rather a lot it turns out.
He is probably the single most important and influential person in GB ski and snowboarding elite competitive snowsports in the past few decades.
Not because of what he has done on snow and through the gates or in the park (heaven forbid!), but rather because he has masterminded the funding.
“The Pery Medal is the highest honour that can be bestowed by the Ski Club and today we are honouring someone who has been supporting UK athletes for the last 40 years,” said the chairman of the Ski Club GB, Rob Crowder.
Sir John and his companies have supported the GB athletes and he’s been there with his hand in his pocket when crisis has struck.
Just weeks before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Snowsport GB went bust.
He stepped in to bang heads together and sort things out.
We previewed the crisis at the time:
He is currently president of Delancey the main sponsor of the current GB alpine team.
“Sir John has been providing funding and support for British Snowsports for almost 40 years. Without the backing of British Land and then Delancey it is quite possible that we would simply not have had skiers and snowboarders representing Great Britain at the highest level of our sport,” said the current President of the SKI Club Frank Gardner OBE as he handed the award over.
Frank is the security correspondent of the BBC.
The current success and potential of the current GB Team is the result of his backing.
Past recipients of the Pery Medal include Arnold Lunn, Hannes Schnedier, Hermann Maier, Franz Klammer and Konrad Bartelski.
The explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Robert Swann have been given the award
More recently the award has gone to Jenny Jones, Pat Sharples and Kelly Gallagher.
“I feel honoured to join such an illustrious and outstanding group of people that have been honoured with the award,” said Sir John to PlanetSKI after the ceremony.
And here is his acceptance speech as he described how he first became involved.
He was on a ski holiday in Val d’Isere back in 1978 and the British National Championships were due to take place.
Only the money had run out…
So, what is the Pery Medal?
It was instituted in 1929 by the Honorable E.C Pery who was later the Earl of Limerick.
He was President of the Ski Club of Great Britain from 1925 to 1927.
It is awarded to an individual or organisation who has:
- Made a notable contribution to the knowledge of mountain craft in relation to skiing
- Achieved distinction in exploration on skis
- Notably advanced the technique of skiing
- Made an outstanding contribution to the success of competitive international skiing
- Made an outstanding contribution to the development of snowsports
Two GB athletes, past and present, paid their tributes:
Chemmy Alcott, skier:
“Sir John has been the backbone for British skiing for as long as I can remember. He has been instrumental in every success we have achieved as a nation. His unparalled passion for our sport is incredibly infectious. Sir John’s joie de vivre and smiley face is a memory that will stay with me forever.”
Zoe Gillings, snowboarder:
“I woud like to thank Sir John for the support he has given snowsports over many years. I benefitted from his support during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at a vital point in my career and I’d like congratulate him on a very well deserved award.”
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news