When Will Greenwood was part of the 2003 Rugby World Cup winning squad, it wasn’t without some sadness. Just a year earlier, his baby son Freddie had been delivered early, at 22 weeks, surviving for just 45 minutes after his birth.
The tragedy must only have served to spur on Greenwood, because in the decade and a half since Freddie’s death, Greenwood has campaigned and fundraised tirelessly for others in his situation.
In April this year, he travelled to the North Pole as part of a fundraising trek to raise money for the charity Borne. Raising $475,000 individually, and more than $1 million in total, Greenwood was able to turn his personal tragedy into something positive.
Trekking with others whose lives had been affected by premature birth, Will and his team battled freezing cold conditions to reach the North Pole, inspired by Professor Mark Johnson who set up the charity.
Johnson was able to help Will and his wife Caro, performing a simple procedure which allowed them to have a further three healthy pregnancies. “I owe everything to Mark Johnson — he’s a miracle worker,” Greenwood says. “I will do anything to raise money for it and, if that means climbing up Mount Everest naked next, then so be it. Ok, maybe not that, but you get the point.
“My hope is this money goes towards research so that Mark can continue to work his magic and so that other parents don’t have to go through what we went through. He basically helps mums and dads get their babies as close to full term as possible.”
The former England inside centre said that his baby son was the driving force keeping him going in the inhospitable landscape of the pole – but the trek wasn’t without its funny moments. Greenwood recounts that his makeshift water bottle in the mornings was a bottle of fresh urine!
Celebrities with a charity connection can make brilliant public speakers – and a speaker who’s taken on incredible personal challenges and won a World Cup has got to be worth a moment of your time!
Will Greenwood is available to book as an after-dinner speaker through booking agency MN2S, so if you’d like to hire a celebrity speaker with plenty to talk about, be sure to get in touch.