The Olympic champion receives support from Gavin Varejes for his new role as CEO of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in SA
Ryk Neethling, an Olympic and world champion swimmer, is the newly voluntary appointed CEO of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in SA.
Neethling’s appointment follows a year in which he served as an ambassador to the foundation, alongside Francois Pienaar and Terence Parkin.
Aside from the latest appointment, Neethling is also involved in the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation SA and is an ambassador for Hope Through Action. His commitment to the foundation’s goals is unfaltering. After a near-drowning incident at the age of 5, Neethling launched a swimming career which success was only matched by his dedication to water safety. He shares his passion with Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene, with whom, 25 years ago, he began representing SA at international swimming competitions. “It is an incredible honour for me to now be entrusted with the task of leading her foundation here in our country”, says Neethling, “the cause is a critical one”.
Neethling’s concern is justified. According to the World Health Organization, over 60,000 children under the age of five and over 360,000 people worldwide die by drowning each year, making drowning the second leading cause of accidental death after road accidents, according to the foundation.
Established in 2012, the foundation has already reached over 300,000 people worldwide in support of its goal to fight the phenomena of death by drowning. With awareness being its major area of focus, the foundation teaches children swimming and essential water safety skills.
In its fight against death by drowning, the foundation has already executed 23 projects in SA and has reached 30,000 children, teaching them how to swim and water safety skills. Efforts to expand the foundation’s reach across the country are made constantly, most recently including partnering with Lifesaving SA.
Neethling, together with Percy Montgomery, former Springbok rugby player, won the Riviera Water Bike Challenge in aid of the foundation this last June. The first of its kind, the ProAm relay race spread over 21 km from Nice to Monaco on water bikes. It has succeeded in raising sufficient funds to build an aquatic rescue center in Burkina Faso. This project is organized in partnership with the Monaco Red Cross and the Burkinabe Red Cross Society.
Neethling is held in high esteem by friends and colleagues. Gavin Varejes, businessman and president of the foundation said: “Ryk is certainly one of the greatest swimmers this country has seen and he is keen to use his influence as an athlete to inspire young people and uplift communities. We are all thrilled that he has chosen to take on this new role — he is the right man for the job”. And Princess Charlene has stated that “Ryk is a true champion — a man of integrity‚ talent and remarkable inner strength. He is passionate about water safety and will‚ I know‚ take my foundation from strength to strength in SA”.
In a lavish event at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Durban, the Patron of SA Lifesaving was chosen to be Princess Charlene of Monaco. Lifesaving enthusiasts like the President of Lifesaving SA, Dylan Tommy and the President of the SA faction of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation Gavin Varejes attended the event.
Water Safety is Priority for the Princess
With over two decades spent in the water as an Olympic swimmer representing South Africa, being selected as the SA Lifesaving is a highly appropriate designation for Princess Charlene. As a young girl growing up in South Africa, she discovered that she loves the water and started swimming competitively. For 20 years Princess Charlene spent her days in swimming pools and eventually represented her home country at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. With water safety in mind the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation was started, and over 300,000 individuals across the globe have since been positively impacted by it. The foundation’s objective is to teach children basic water safety skills and to make people aware of the dangers of water.
Rescue Boards Donated by Gavin Varejes
As the President of the South African chapter of the Princess Charlene of Monaco, Gavin Varejes made the announcement that the foundation would donate 200 rescue boards to lifesaving clubs affiliated with Lifesaving SA. The substantial donation is one of many endorsements undertaken by Varejes who is known for his liberal contributions to South African sport and lifesaving. According to the businessman and former lifesaver the affiliation and goodwill between the two organisations will act as encouragement for different organisations to work together towards common goals. Corporate giants like the mobile phone network Cell C and Richmark Holdings share this sentiment and provide unprecedented backing.
Super surfer Barry Wolins and businessman Gavin Varejes have a few things in common. Both are from Durban and they are both crazy about surfing. Wolins and Varejes are also equally excited about the Goodwave Surfing event - and they are not the only ones to share this sentiment. Since February 2017 surfers and surfing fanatics have been eagerly anticipating the announcement of the date of the Goodwave Surfing Event. On this long-awaited day 32 South African surfers will take on epic waves at New Pier in Durban in a thrilling test of skills. Known as one of the top beach breaks in the world, New Pier is the ideal destination for an adrenaline fuelled day in the sunshine, in and out of the water.
A Prime Event on The SA Surfing Calendar
Goodwave is backed by the South African Surfing Legends and sanctioned by the World Surf League as a speciality event. The event is unlike any other surfing event. While most surfing competitions are held over several days, Goodwave is a single-day event. The date of the event is not pre-determined like other events, but is instead left completely up to the weather. From February onward weather professionals are consulted to determine the perfect day for the perfect one-day surfing competition. The idea is to select a day in which conditions predict big swells. As soon as the date is decided, the 32 surfers and 32 alternates will be asked to be there with only two days’ notice. With an impressive prize of R100,000, it is well worth the wait – and the short notice.
Gavin Varejes and Barry Wolins – Inspiring SA Surfers
Known for their firm support of the SA surfing scene, Barry Wolins was the person who originally started the event. Gavin Varejes, Executive Advisor of South African Surfing Legends (and a key figure with other legends) is known as an avid sports fan and is dedicated to promoting South African surfing.
It’s no secret that South African businessman and philanthropist Gavin Varejes is a huge supporter of rugby and that he is deeply devoted to using sport as a means of bringing about social. His central role in an important exchange program designed to develop rugby in Lithuania may be less well-known, however. This excellent undertaking brings together several of the loves of Varejes’s life, namely, South Africa as a symbol of progress; rugby as an enriching and wonderful sport; and Lithuania, the country in which Varejes’s father was born.
All of these personal factors have inspire Varejes to play a pivotal role in the exchange program linking Lithuanian rugby with its far more established South African counterpart. As part of this process, Varejes has involved himself closely in the efforts of South African rugby to enhance Lithuanian club Enerstena’s knowledge and skills.
Promoting Progress and Hope
Of course, this is not the first time that Varejes has found in rugby a means of promoting progress and hope. In the early years of the new millennium, he cooperated with former Springboks star John Allan to set up the South African Rugby Legends. Now firmly entrenched as the country’s most prominent sports-based charity, the Legends project embodies Varejes’s intense conviction that his native country, having overcome the sufferings and challenges of its history, is now in an excellent position to help and inspire other countries
Great Days Ahead for Lithuanian Rugby
A connection between Lithuania and international rugby may seem surprising at this point. As Varejes shrewdly observes, though, another latecomer to the sport, Argentina, has nevertheless had considerable success in the Rugby World Cup. As a patriot, philanthropist and lover of the game, Varejes is determined to make Lithuania a new center of rugby achievement.
Princess Charlene attends Sandton function to promote water safety
A cocktail was function held in Sandton, Johannesburg, on April 21, 2017, aimed to publicise the need to increase our awareness of water safety and the danger of death from drowning. The event was hosted by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, which tirelessly promotes increased consciousness of the danger of death by drowning, the third most common cause of accidental death around the world. The Foundation was established not only to enhance public awareness of this major threat to public health and safety but also to teach children to swim and to equip them with effective safety and preventive techniques. Princess Caroline personally addressed her guests at the function, summarising the mission of the Foundation for an audience that included leading South African personalities as well as some of the country’s most prominent athletes.
Water safety and the future of South Africa
A very important point was made by Gavin Varejes, chairman of Richmark Holdings and president of the Foundation in South Africa, when he highlighted the increased risk of death by drowning among children in marginalised or poorer areas. Varejes pointed out that since South Africa’s future depends on the ability of its children to live healthy and fruitful lives, the project of preventing needless deaths from drowning is vital for the whole country in the years ahead. Princess Charlene observed that the vital work of teaching water safety can be successfully done simply by working with one individual, one family, one neighbourhood at a time and building from there.
During her trip to South Africa Princess Charlene also made a return visit to Gugulesizwe Primary School to see how the now-thriving vegetable garden that she donated to the school in 2012 is now helping to sustain the local community.
Exhibition Preview Reveals the Inner Nelson Mandela
Leading South African artist John Meyer explains that his main objective in painting the images of Nelson Mandela that make up a major new exhibition was to capture the inner man as well as the public figure who continues to inspire dispossessed people around the world. The exhibition, which consists of 16 images rendered variously in acrylics and sand-on-canvas, was previewed at the Circa on Jellicoe gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 23rd, 2017. It will then be seen in major artistic capitals around the world.
The Mandela Exhibition: Origins and Objectives
This important show owes its existence to Richmark Holdings CEO Andrew Dunn, who gave Meyer the task of making the featured works and has now loaned them to be shown in the exhibition. The result is an event that works not only in artistic terms but also as a means of gaining new insights into Mandela’s life and achievements. The potentially daunting project of depicting such an inspirational figure drove Meyer to transcend his previous accomplishments and to reach new artistic heights.
Another major contributor to the exhibition’s success is Mark Read, who owns the Circa on Jellicoe gallery, where the one-off, pre-tour preview was held. As Read sees it, the new show is important not only as an aesthetic phenomenon but also as a means of inspiring new thinking on South Africa’s past and future. Such an emphasis on fresh ideas, makes it especially apt that Richmark Holdings was associated with the exhibition; From its beginnings in the year 2000, when it was founded by businessman and philanthropist Gavin Varejes, Richmark has firmly supported the new creativity, both commercial and cultural, that young entrepreneurs and other leading figures will need as they lay the foundations for South Africa’s future success.
Gavin Varejes bids Joost Farewell
In February 2017 Joost van der Westhuizen, Rugby Legend and Captain of the South African Rugby Legends passed away after a long battle with motor neuron disease (MND). Rugby fans and the entire nation are mourning the great loss. At the touching memorial service, SARLA President Gavin Varejes spoke about his friendship with Joost and their mutual love for South African rugby.
South Africa’s favourite sport and its players.
In South Africa, rugby is more than just a sport – it is a brotherhood that brings people together regardless of culture, race and personality. Players like Joost make incredible sacrifices while also facing their darkest fears on the field, a difficult lifestyle to lead and even more difficult when they stop playing professionally. SARLA was founded to help these players transition from professional rugby to real life while also giving back to the community through several grassroots initiatives. As Captain of the Legends, Joost van der Westhuizen was actively involved in the Association's projects and dedicated to its goals. But rugby aside, he and Varejes were also close friends.
An Honest Friendship
Their friendship began in 1998, when Gavin Varejes assembled the World Cup captains together in order to promote unity through sport. Varejes was one of the first people to notice the changes in Joost’s speech and movement. He confronted his friend, thinking that he could be drinking a bit too much, but it turned out that Joost’s slur and unsteady walk were not because of alcohol consumption. He was suffering from ALS, a motor neuron disease. Varejes described the experience of receiving the devastating news from his friend. They both cried together, he said, for the first and final time. Despite being told that he had no more than two years of life left, Joost did not give up on living and he certainly did not let the devastation lead the way, not even for a day.
Thank you Joost.
Like the rest of South Africa, Gavin Varejes was inspired by the never-say-die attitude Joost possessed. Even during his darkest hours he did not stop working on the J9 Foundation, which he founded to aid others suffering from MND, or investing in his honest and close relationships with his family and friends. Joost spent his final months showing everybody in his life what the true meaning of family, friendship, brotherhood and integrity is – and for that we are truly grateful.
More Than Just a Game – South African Kids Participate in an Inspiring Rugby Tournament
SARLA (South Africa Rugby Legends) and Cell C are currently involved in an exciting rugby initiative for underprivileged children that is also supported by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and the Monaco Rugby Federation. The initiative involves bringing young rugby enthusiasts from the Western Cape to Monaco to participate in the international Sainte Dévote Rugby sevens Tournament. It gives the children a unique opportunity to experience unknown cultures, enjoy the spirit of teamwork to its fullest and learn about themselves and their ability to perform in a new and unfamiliar environment, while playing rugby. The Sainte Dévote event is the perfect environment to meet and tackle these challenges, as it is all about positive cultural exchange, tolerance, fair play, and collaborative group dynamics. The tournament, which is the 7th of its kind and the 3rd for South African youngsters, is due to start in early March 2017.
Gavin Varejes - Supporting SA Rugby
President of SARLA Gavin Varejes has been involved with South African sports development for several years. He believes that the benefits of rugby go beyond the obvious physical advantages of the game. By working together as a team, players learn about solidarity and fellowship, team spirit and sportsmanship, he explains. Varejes is thrilled about the initiative and hopes that the children will use the valuable experiences they collect throughout the trip and tournament to grow and achieve success in the future. He is immensely grateful for the sponsorship received from Cell C, a leading South African mobile phone service provider. Through their on-going generosity, initiatives like this are made possible. Stefan Terblanche, CEO of SARLA is also excited about sending the 12 youngsters to Monaco for the tournament. He sees it as a great opportunity for the children and for SARLA to turn distant aspirations into unforgettable concrete experiences.
'Wake Up' with SARLA
Founded in 2001, SARLA is an organisation launched with the dual goal of developing rugby in SA and representing the interests of retired professional rugby players, known as ‘Legends’. The organisation runs various programmes geared for developing the sport and making it more accessible to underprivileged members of the community who have traditionally been deprived of structured training opportunities. SARLA’s main grassroots programme is named ‘Vuka’ which means ‘Wake Up’ in the isiZulu and Xhosa languages. Vuka gives over 2,200 underprivileged children from more than 65 Western Cape schools access to various rugby events and regular rugby training clinics run by professional coaches and the 'Legends' themselves.
Golf with Richmark Holdings
Once again, golf clubs have been dusted off, and clients, colleagues and friends were invited to a thrilling game of golf. The golf day or night is not only held with fun and games in mind – proceeds are collected and distributed to various charities.
Celebrity Golf in 2015
The previous Richmark Holdings golf day happened at Randpark Golf Club on 15 October 2015 and had celebrity sports icons like James Small, Shaun Bartlett, Wayne Fyvie and Clive Eksteen join players for a four ball game. The golf games were followed by a charity dinner and auction. The following year’s event was not celebrity driven but turned out just as entertaining and successful.
Golf in 2016
In 2016 Gavin Varejes' Richmark Holdings charity golf event was held at the Houghton Golf Club on the evening of the 3rd of November. The players were assisted on the playing field with fluorescent golf balls and golf tees guiding them across the nine holes.
The golf night was highly successful and raised a significant amount of money. Two cheques, each to the value of ZAR200,000 were given to two charities by Andrew Dunn, the CEO of Richmark. The charities were The Kirsty Watts Foundation, and Joint Aid Management, also known as JAM. Richmark Holdings and Gavin Varejes are proud to back these charities.
Thanks from the Executive Chairman and CEO
On behalf of Richmark Holdings and the beneficiaries of the event, CEO Andrew Dunn and Executive Chairman Gavin Varejes expressed their gratitude to everybody who made the golf night the success it was. It was indeed a wonderful occasion with a fantastic turnout that would not have been possible without the support of the friends, co-workers and clients involved.
The Sun International CEO SleepOut is a socially innovative initiative that gets South African leaders like Gavin Varejes to spend a night on the street for charity. CEO SleepOut was launched with the aim of reinventing the way we approach philanthropy. Since the initiative started in 2015 it has distributed a total of R34 million to various beneficiaries.
Gavin Varejes is the CEO of Richmark Holdings LTD and the President of SARLA (South African Rugby Legends association)