September 22 - Some of Britain's top Olympic and Paralympic competitors, including Beijing canoeing gold medallist Tim Brabants (pictured), have today written to 240 business leaders in a personal appeal to support a new initiative to enable employers of all sizes to reward their staff and forge direct links with the nation’s elite athletes in the build-up to London 2012.

The British Athletes Commission (BAC), the representative body for the nation’s Olympic, Paralympic and World Class funded athletes, has teamed up with Invitation Media, the publisher of nine regional discount directories, to provide a bespoke national directory.

At a cost of £28 per directory per employee, of which £10 will go towards funding the work of the BAC, each company that signs up will also become a member of the Athletes Affinity Club.

Benefits they will receive include an opportunity to use the British Athletes Affinity Club logo internally and externally on all company, the opportunity to use the strap line "Supporting Great Britain's elite athletes through the British Athletes Affinity Club" and receive editorial interviews and blogs from the athletes they are supporting.
Brabants has been joined by Graham Edmunds, Heather Frederiksen, Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase in inviting employers to take part in the scheme. 

The letter details the scheme and the primary motivation behind this athlete-led initiative, which is supported by 14 Olympic and four Paralympic medallists.

It said: “We are backing this unique initiative as it enables ALL in an organisation to benefit from this investment into elite sport.

"All signed up to this initiative have pledged to thank those who support us and keep in touch with regular updates, blogs, interviews and articles from all aspects of elite sport."

The initiative is centred on regional discount directories containing up to £13,000 worth of money saving offers from the leisure, tourism and retail Industries.

With a new UK book waiting to be commissioned for 2010, the appeal from athletes to business leaders is for them to embrace this unique approach and take on board the overwhelming evidence that these 480 page directory is a popular reward device for their employees, the BAC said.

After undertaking extensive regional business trials, where thousands of employees across the UK, have bought the books for themselves, gold medal rower Purchase is confident that the scheme will be successful.

He said: “In simple terms of making both business and individual budgets go further there can be no doubt that receiving these books would be popular and help engage everyone in the company’s support for their elite sportsmen and women."

In conjunction with the appeal to business, individuals throughout the UK can support and engage with their athletes through the £12 annual membership of the Elite Athletes Supporters Club, they too will receive regular input from the athletes involved in the scheme.

All those interested in pledging their support for the scheme should click here and click on the "Pledge Your Support logo".