Former British tennis star Tim Henman awarded the first of his foundation’s scholarships to four Raynes Park High School pupils last Friday, March 16, as part of its programme to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people.
Since relaunching in 2014, the Tim Henman Foundation has developed an outreach programme, a scholarships programme and a hospice programme.
The programmes seek to encourage vulnerable young people to raise their aspirations and make a positive contribution to society.
The ex-world number four said: “I’ve had a foundation for the last 17 years, but in the last four years we’ve re-launched it, working more specifically in education and health and disadvantaged young people.
“I was part of the David Lloyd Academy. I look back and I think how lucky I was and so I definitely believe that giving young kids a chance is really important.”
Henman spoke at Raynes Park High School, where he launched his foundation’s partnership with the school by awarding the scholarships in conjunction with BECSLink.
Also in attendance were Crista Cullen, MBE, Lady Wimbledon, Raynes Park High School headteacher Kirsten Heard and the Mayor of Wimbledon, councillor Marsie Skeete.
BECSLink is an organisation committed to the social mobility of young people, and the scholarships programme aims to help vulnerable children thrive, which may necessitate funding full time education.
In the past they have supported Autism Speaks, Right to Play, Tennis First and Reed’s School Foundation.
Speaking about his motivations to start the Tim Henman Foundation, the former British number one spoke of the legacy of his own former school.
He said: “Reeds School was set up as an orphanage 203 years ago.
“Andrew Reed was giving opportunity a long time ago, that was definitely a motivating factor.”
“I got an opportunity because I was good at tennis, but you don’t necessarily need to just be good at tennis to get an opportunity, you could be good at another skill in the arts, or in science or technology, or whatever it may be.
“Or you might not have that opportunity, so if we can create some of those and give scholarship awards then hopefully that’s going to have an impact down the line.”
The outreach programme focuses on music and the arts, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and sport.
While Henman admitted he wasn’t very good at music and art himself, he said it’s important for his foundation to have diversity.
“Tennis has always been a big part of my life. I’m involved in Wimbledon, I’m on the board there and involved in the event itself and it comes around quickly.
“I think we all hope [the weather] warms up a bit.”
The ‘Make it Happen’ hospice programme addresses a number of issues from further education to independent living or healthcare, to support young people who are life-limited, and life threatened.
In a speech at Raynes Park High School, Henman said: “If I could leave the pupils with one message today from my experiences, and that with working with my foundation, it’s life’s not a dress rehearsal.
“We only get one chance to fulfil our potential, so hopefully if they get an opportunity, in whatever field or activity, grasp it with both hands.
“Seize the moment, and pursue your dreams, because you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve, and how much fun you can have along that journey.”