Credit: GG Photographer Ioanna Chrysanthakopoulou (@joan_chriss)

Glasgow University Tennis team smash fundraising over lockdown

By Jamie Byrne

The GUT raised over £4,500 for a charity close to home for the team by covering unbelievable distances lockdown-style.

The Glasgow University Tennis team were not shaken by the effects of lockdown in their effort to raise money for the Beatson Cancer Charity, a charity close to the hearts of all the team. Murray Stewart joined the GU Tennis team back in 2016 and went on to serve the club as PR convenor in the 2017/18 year, alongside being a regular player in the first team. He was a powerful presence on court, inspiring his fellow members of the club who respected him as a man and cherished his friendship. After a brave fight against cancer, Murray Stewart passed away in November 2019, aged 22.

The team’s fundraising plan was daring, yet so simple; to walk, run and cycle the distance from Glasgow to the clay courts of the Stade Rolland Garros in Paris, then to the beautifully trimmed grass of Centre Court Wimbledon. This totalled a grand distance of 1582km, which was sensationally completed in just four days. But it did not stop there – the team believed they still had it in them to go even further for such a special charity, and all agreed to go to one last world-famous tennis competition: the US Open! This meant a humongous distance of 7149km would need to be completed to make it to the Big Apple. After 14 extremely sweaty days, the team were delighted to announce that they had smashed their second target and had reached the US Open, raising a remarkable £4,870.

Everyone involved with the fundraising should be extremely proud of themselves for achieving an amazing figure for such a wonderful charity, especially in such testing times. Members of the fundraising team were happy to tell The Glasgow Guardian how the fundraising experience was and what it meant to them.

Laura Duncan and Oliver Carstairs, club captains, released a statement saying: “Looking back over the two week fundraiser, we as a club are immensely proud of everyone who took part. Travelling nearly 8,000km in 14 days is no mean feat, and the dedication and effort people put into this event just brought home how much Murray meant to the club. He is sorely missed, and though this was a great way to remember him, we hope to hold a charity tournament in his name as soon as it is safe to do so. The money raised for Beatson will help them continue their amazing work in the future!”

Caitlin Owens, PR convenor, discussed how much this project meant to him: “As PR and fundraising convenor, the fundraiser was my first task on committee and honestly, I was terrified that it wasn’t going to be perfect. But the effort from all the club members, Murray’s friends and also people who had never met him, just made me realise that it never had to be perfect, but instead it was sad and happy and an opportunity for so many people to do something in the name of a friend. And I think it was beautiful to watch everyone try so hard, and I’m just so proud of every single person.”

Ella McCabe, GUSRC VP student services, also commented saying:“The fundraiser was such a lovely idea – it brought the whole club together at a time when everyone was so far apart, and all to celebrate a member whom we loved so much. Murray was a wonderful person, an even better friend, and I think the effort everyone put into the fundraiser was a testament to his character and shows the love he will always have within the GUT community. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, and I think the message from it was clear: Murray will always be missed, but by the club he’ll also always be remembered.”

Ross MacKenzie, a fellow GUT player was glad to see the remarkable effort of her team noting: “It was a real privilege to be a part of the GUT Beatson Fundraiser. The sense of community and determination from everyone to complete the US Open challenge made me feel very proud to be part of GUT. Murray Stewart was an extremely talented tennis player and a true gentleman on and off the court. For the club to raise the money that we did in memory of Murray is something incredibly special and can hopefully help Beatson to continue their phenomenal work.“

Euan Gibson-Smith, a teammate of Murray, was glad to see Murray’s memory honoured in a way that would help people in similar situations:“I truly believe that Murray was one of the most kind and respected people I will ever meet. The amount of money we raised in such a short time showed how loved he really was, and I was so happy to be able to take part in this event not only to honour him, but also to be able to give others in similar situations the opportunity for the same care and treatment he received from such a great charity.” 


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