George set for ambitious lifting challenge to raise money for NHS

Jamie George comes up against Josh Van der Flier 23/2/2020
Jamie George is attempting to lift the equivalent of two cars above his head in just one hour as he becomes the latest Guinness Six Nations star to raise money for the NHS.

Jamie George is attempting to lift the equivalent of two cars above his head in just one hour as he becomes the latest Guinness Six Nations star to raise money for the NHS.

The England hooker is taking part in Barnes RFC’s ‘The Big Lift’ challenge on Saturday, an initiative encouraging people to lift one million kilograms in one day after the death of one of the club’s most loyal supporters.

Garry Garrett, whose son Jack is the club’s first-choice hooker, died last month at the age of 64 after a short battle with COVID-19.

Jack and the England front-rower have been close friends since a young age, with the 29-year-old George quickly taking up the mantle to make a major contribution to the ambitious challenge – which has now raised over £100,000 after soaring past its £10,000 target.

And George, who is also encouraging his England teammates to take part, is relishing the prospect of trying to lift 3,000kg – the same weight as two Ford Focus cars – above his head in just 60 minutes.

“I’m aiming to lift 3,000kg in an hour,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“I don’t know if it’s actually doable but I’ll give it a crack.

“What happened to Garry puts a perspective on everything. One minute I’m complaining about being stuck inside, the next my friend Jack’s father has passed away.

“He was an amazing man, one of those rugby purists who just wanted to talk to me about scrums!

“He loved the game and gave so much to it. It’s nice to see the rugby community come together to remember one of its own.”

Garrett was described as a ‘stalwart supporter’ of English National League 2 South club Barnes, loyally travelling home and away with his wife Yolanda to watch Jack and his teammates in action.

‘The Big Lift’ challenge organised after his death will see participants – who can lift any object, of any weight as many times as they like – donate £10 of their own money to take part, with additional contributions welcome.

And England international George, who has started all four matches of England’s 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign, is one of a raft of rugby stars to express their support of the initiative, with fellow Championship players Jonny Wilkinson, Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Will Greenwood also recording video messages.

Barnes will be using online technology Zoom to keep in contact with all those taking part in the challenge throughout the day, as well as a centralised spreadsheet to regularly monitor the amount of total weight that has been lifted.

And with the big day now upon them and an ambitious one million kilograms the target, club chairman Michael Whitfield says he has been overwhelmed by the support the idea has received.

“I’m really delighted and it’s been amazing – the idea was born out of me wanting to mobilise the rugby club to both remember Garry, as well as to raise money for the NHS,” Whitfield, 61, said.

“Garry was the ultimate club man and stalwart supporter who really wore his stash with pride and always had a word for the players – he went home and away with his wife whether his son was playing or not, which really was the mark of the man.

“We talk a lot about a one club philosophy here at Barnes, and I wanted this to be a chance when we could all come together as one club.

“Jamie’s contribution is great and he’s been brilliant – he’s a super guy, so we’ll definitely get him down to the club when the dust has settled to do a big celebration and say thank you to him.

“I know that Jamie’s got a session with 20 of the England lads taking part on Zoom so he’ll be driving them on, and we’ll get footage of that throughout the day.

“He’s trying to do 3,000kg in an hour – and he’s going to challenge them all to do the same!

“We set out our target of £10,000 – which was a modest ambition – and have absolutely smashed that, but it’s not just about the money, and it’s about the memory of Garry and the joy this is bringing his wife and his family.

“We’re very excited for the big day now – this initiative shows everything that is good about rugby and it’s the reason I love rugby, so I’m extremely proud about the level of support we’ve received.”

You can donate to Barnes RFC’s Big Lift challenge here.