British rower Jamie Cook wins inaugural Parmigiani Spirit Award

Earlier today University of London BC member Jamie Cook, 21, received the prestigious Parmigiani Spirit Award at a special ceremony at Mosimann’s in central London.

The Parmigiani Spirit Award is a new honour that celebrates the core values of rowing – teamwork, fairness, natural, inclusive and enduring – through the actions of an individual.

Cook was presented with a beautiful Parmigiani Fleurier watch by Parmigiani CEO Jean-Marc Jacot in recognition of his achievements. University of London BC will receive a custom-built Filippi racing eight built in Italy which will be used by the university women’s squad.

Men’s captain at ULBC, Cook has been involved in fundraising initiatives since rowing across the Channel with his family as a 14-year-old – including older brother Oli, now in the GB Rowing Team.

After an eye-opening trip to India teaching at a school, in 2011 Cook was part of an expedition that rowed 1000km down the River Zambezi for Village Water, raising $40,000 for the charity that provides clean water to rural Zambia.

Inspired by his namesake British explorer Captain James Cook, he said, “I love adventures and rowing gives me the chance to have adventures. There’s nothing better than having an adventure where you give something back as well. It gives you a purpose.”

Back in Britain, Cook is in his final year of mechanical engineering but in between studying and rowing, he also finds time to coach younger rowers at University of London.

Amongst the many gathered at today’s ceremony were British Rowing Deputy Chairman Gary Harris, Olympian and FISA Council member Guin Batten and Olympic champions Jean-Christophe Rolland (FISA President elect), Andrew Triggs-Hodge, Mahe Drysdale and Martin Cross.

Twenty-five people were nominated for the Parmigiani Spirit Award from 12 countries with six shortlisted from Australia, China, Great Britain and South Africa. Included in the panel of judges were Mahe Drysdale, Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Jean-Marc Jacot and FISA President Denis Oswald.

Afterwards Oswald, said, “The idea of this award is that it goes to somebody who is rowing but who is also doing other things, perhaps coaching and helping younger athletes to make progress. And like Jamie, helping villages in Zambia to have access to clean water. He is an inspiration to all and a worthy winner of the first Parmigiani Spirit Award.”

Matt Smith, FISA Executive Director, added, “It’s about time that we recognised the outstanding individuals we have in our sport and our great university students who are doing so much in their lives. We are really proud of Jamie.”

Meanwhile Cook already has another adventure up his sleeve. He is helping to organise the first Lake Kariba Moon Row in Zambia next August. Fundraising for Village Water, the row will be a 250km challenge along the length of Lake Kariba. Watch this space to find out more.

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