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.
Springboks Receive Jerseys from Gavin Varajes Before Playing the Baa-Baas
Gavin Varejes was once again on hand to present the Springboks with their jerseys in the build up to their match against the Barbarians at Wembley. This is the second time Mr. Varejes has been honoured with this role, a tradition that carries a lot of pride and importance for the esteemed national rugby team. With the concept that Springbok jerseys are earned and not given, it has become tradition to invite high profile individuals like Gavin Varejes to present players their jerseys in a pre-match ceremony. A spokesman for the Springboks commented that “Gavin is a very passionate Springbok supporter and we value his tremendous contribution to the team.”
Cell C's 2016 CEO Awards were a glamorous and entertaining affair, which revolved around the company's clients, distributors, dealers and staff. The CEO of Cell C, Jose dos Santos, was front and centre to present awards to staff for who had displayed exceptional performances and raised standards during the year.
This year the Ambassador of the Year award was won by Richmark Holdings Executive Chairman, Gavin Varejes. He won the award in recognition of his contributions and continued loyalty to Cell C and Mr Dos Santos.
Gavin Varejes, President of South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA), is seen here presenting gifts to Francois Louw and Eben Etzebeth – to commemorate the pair reaching their 50th test caps. Varejes, who is also the Executive Chairman of Richmark Holdings, said how proud he was of the young sportsmen for achieving the fantastic career milestone and making South Africa a great rugby playing nation.
An Entrepreneurial Venture
Mauritius-based Universal Partners is undertaking an initial public offering on AltX, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s alternative exchange. The private equity group intends to list in an effort to raise R1 billion, which would further add to the £80 million it already secured this year from various investors, including Global Capital, Investec Bank, Credo Wealth, and Richmark Holdings.
Universal Partners' CFO, David Vinokur, was among the consortium of investors, and he joins the likes of Gavin Varejes in backing the fledgling company. The entrepreneurial spirit of Gavin Varejes is on display once again, as the serial entrepreneur opted to get in at the ground level before one of the more exciting IPO’s on the AltX kicks off with Universal Partners.
Even throughout these tough economic times, Richmark Holdings is accomplishing its stated goal in supporting the economy in South Africa through job creation and by funding exciting new ventures. As a leading angel investor in South Africa, Richmark has helped talented entrepreneurs build their innovative ideas into viable companies.
James Ribbink, an eight year old junior surfing champion from Durban, is to be sponsored by Richmark Holdings, a business investment company based in Johannesburg.
Recently, James has been successful in a number of junior surfing events, most notably at the Billiaboing Grom Games and the RVCA Junior event held in J-Bay, where he finished 1st in the Under 10 age group. It is because of James’s excellent performances at these events that have helped to catapult him into the surfing spotlight in South Africa. Many people involved in the sport claim that James has a bright future with some commentators stating he has the potential to become a champion at the senior level.
Gavin Varejes is the CEO of Richmark Holdings LTD and the President of SARLA (South African Rugby Legends association)