South West

The Athlete Mentors available in the South West region.

We are delighted to offer the expertise of these elite and inspirational Athlete Mentors who each bring years of experience that will benefit your pupils.

Annie Vernon

Annie VernonAnnie discovered rowing as a typical sport-mad teenager in Cornwall, and at university this hobby became a passion. After graduating, she rose into the ranks of the British Rowing Team. Despite being one of the smaller rowers, she became a world champion in 2007 before preparing for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where her crew attempted to be the first British women’s rowing team to win Olympic gold. 

Leading until the final hundred metres, they were overhauled by the Chinese crew and finished second. Their tears and grief on the podium led to some tough questions when they returned – not least of all: “how can you be so dissatisfied with an Olympic silver medal?” The devastation of failing to achieve what the team were capable of forced Annie to re-examine her values and approach. She returned for the build-up to the London Olympics with the newfound goal of simply creating a perfect team performance. This clicked into place two years later when she was crowned world champion for the second time with a stunning race. Following the 2010 victory, Annie became hit by repeated illness and injury, but she battled back to win a seat in the women’s eight for the 2012 London Olympics, finishing fifth.

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Olympic Silver Medallist
  • World Championships Gold Medallist
Cassie Patten

Cassie PattenCassie learnt to swim at a very young age, at 5, in her reception year at school, she won all the events at her first school swimming gala. It was after seeing her natural talent here that her parents took her to a local swimming club. Cassie is severely dyslexic and struggled with her academic work throughout school. She used swimming as a release for her frustration and was a regular at her local club until the age of 13.

As a teenager Cassie made the decision to move to Plymouth where she joined a new school and swimming club. The change of clubs gave her a real boost and she started to improve quickly and excelled at competitions. At the age of 19 Cassie realised that if she wanted to follow her dream she would have to dedicate herself fully to her sport. She chose to move 360 miles to Manchester to train at Stockport Metro. In a senior swimming career which spanned 10 years, Cassie competed at an Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal, 7 World Championships, and 2 silver medals whilst competing at 8 European Championships.

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympic Medallist
  • 2 x World Silver Medallist
  • National Medallist
Craig Figes

Craig FigesCraig first learnt to swim at 4 and became interested in water polo at just 7. His talent and work ethic was quickly identified and he progressed through club, county and regional teams to be selected for the GB U20 team at just 14 years of age and the GB senior side aged 15. Despite being a national standard swimmer, Craig’s passion was for water polo and he became a vital part of the England and GB team, playing in numerous major international championships. He was selected as the GB junior captain at just 16. Craig was always driven to excel which led him to playing professionally for club teams in Australia, Spain and Italy.

His international highlights include a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and captaining the GB team at London 2012. Craig’s international career has spanned more than 20 years and he continues to be a leader of the sport both in and out of the pool. Craig now coaches hundreds of young players every week in his local area as well as continuing to play professionally. 

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Commonwealth Games Bronze Medallist
  • British Champion
Heather Fell

Heather FellHeather began her journey into the sport of Modern Pentathlon when she was just a toddler, being brought up on a farm she was taught to ride before she could walk and was also taken to swimming lessons from a very young age. It was through her involvement in Pony Club that she discovered the sport of Tetrathlon which then led on to Modern Pentathlon. After university Heather grabbed the opportunity to train full time, but it was not a smooth journey to her Olympic success and she had to endure highs and lows before winning a silver medal at Beijing in 2008. Heather now works as a journalist and sports commentator.

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Olympic Silver Medallist
  • World Number One
Jamie Barrow

Jamie BarrowJamie is Britain’s fastest snowboarder. Born in Switzerland, Jamie first put on a pair of skis at 18 months old, loved being on the snow, and has never looked back. Keen for another challenge aged 8, Jamie took up snowboarding and soon realised that it was the sport for him. He quickly progressed and continued to push himself to improve. Jamie was chosen to be part of the British Junior Snowboard Team. The following year Jamie spotted the British Snowboardcross team training and wanted to give it a go.

He trained with the team and, aged just 14, was asked to join the team. Over the next 5 years Jamie trained and competed across the world, becoming British Youth Champion and British Junior Champion 3 times. Whilst competing in early 2013, Jamie suffered a serious back injury. He was told by doctors that he couldn't snowboard again and was forced to quit. Jamie was determined to return to his sport and continued to push himself through recovery, going on to set the British Snowboard Speed and World Indoor Snowboard Speed records.

Sporting Achievements
  • Britain’s Fastest Snowboarder
Kate Grey

Kate GreyKate lost her left hand at 2-years-old following a freak accident. Aged 4, her parents encouraged her to learn to swim; it was a daunting task as Kate was afraid of deep water and struggled to balance with one hand, but she persevered and went on to swim regularly. Kate never let her disability hold her back, and alongside swimming she also pursued and excelled in other sports. At 10 years old, she competed in her first disability swimming competition. To her surprise, Kate performed well and later qualified for the National Championships. In 2002, aged just 13, she was earmarked as a potential Paralympian and went on to represent Great Britain for the next 10 years.

The proudest moment in Kate’s career so far was representing GB at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. She then went on to win a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and bronze in the 100m Individual Medley at the World Championships in 2009. Unfortunately, illness meant Kate missed out qualifying for the London 2012 Paralympics . But she now finds herself working in the media as a sports reporter, commentator and pundit - proving that from failure and disappointment you can still find success in other opportunities. Kate also continues to inspire young people by sharing her experiences through the power of sport.

Sporting Achievements
  • Paralympian
  • World Championships Silver & Bronze Medallist
Thinus Delport

Thinus DelportThinus is a rugby union wing and fullback player who played for Gloucester, the Worcester Warriors and South Africa. Making his senior debut in 1997 on the Springboks’ European Tour, he started his career playing for the Lions in South Africa before joining Gloucester in 2002 and Worcester in 2004. Thinus has represented the southern hemisphere in his sport, competing against some of the world’s greatest rugby players. Dealing with the social pressure of moving from a small farming community to a big city environment gave Thinus the mental toughness to drive himself to achieve. Maintaining his passion for rugby helped him persevere in reaching his goals - regardless of any setbacks and obstructions. Sport has taught Thinus valuable core principles that are essential in succeeding in life. It has also opened the door for him to travel the world, expand his horizons and explore his perceptions on life.

Sporting Achievements
  • South Africa (Springboks) International