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Charity, golf and insurance – a match made in heaven

Charity, golf and insurance – a match made in heaven | Insurance Business UK

Charity, golf and insurance – a match made in heaven

What could be a more fitting way to bring out some of the defining characteristics of great insurance professionals – camaraderie, generosity and friendly competitiveness – than a charity golf tournament?

It certainly seemed so to Peter Cook, floor manager at Sterling Insurance and the mind behind the Sterling Cup charity drive which sees insurance professionals from across the sector come together in the name of a great cause. The £10,000 raised in the inaugural event went towards sending six-year-old Archie Wilks to America for specialist care while the £12,000 raised in 2022 is split between three UK cancer charities – Maggie’s, Helen Rollason and MacMillan – as well as funding further treatment for Archie.

How the Sterling Cup came to be

Revealing how the Sterling Cup first came about, Cook shared that in October 2018 his wife was diagnosed with cancer. It was while his family was struggling through the diagnosis, treatment and recovery, that the support and care of these charities really came to the fore. Having access to the services provided by these charities went such a long way to keeping his own stress levels manageable, he said, while he was caring for their three young children – to say nothing of the care shown to his wife.

“It was unbelievable, and I’ll never forget it,” he said. “So, there is for me a massive driver to give back. Because without people like us giving those UK charities money and support, then they won’t be able to give these treatments to others.”

Cook’s wife had already started treatment for her cancer when Archie Wilks – whose father Simon Wilks works at Sterling Insurance – was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2019. When his wife had been given the all-clear, he said, he turned his mind to what could be done to raise money for his colleague’s child to go to the US and receive the treatment required to help prevent his cancer from returning.

“There are lots of cake sales, football tournaments, etc. going on to raise money,” he said. “But where the Sterling Cup came together was when I went to our board of directors and asked if there was any chance that I could hold a charity golf day – and whether there were any funds available to get that started. I’ve always been an organiser throughout my life with friends and family and so on, but to hold something of this scale with people from all across the industry was quite the challenge!”

To get started, he enlisted the help of good friends in the industry, Rod Wellard and Paul Copeland, who both know a lot of people in the industry and were keen to help in any way. They got some teams together and started getting people involved, he said, and then it occurred to them that it would be a great idea to pit the teams against each other in a Ryder Cup format that would see them competing to win a replica of the Ryder Cup.

An all-inclusive insurance industry initiative

“From the beginning I wanted this to be an industry event where anyone who wanted could come along as long as they paid the entry fee,” he said. “We don’t care who turns up, which has been great because we’ve had rival brokers turn up, people from insurance companies, etc. For us, this is about if you’re in the industry and you’re aware of this and you want to come along, then great. Come along and join us for a great day of golf and have the chance to chat with other brokers and other insurers.”

The success of the inaugural event led to the planning of 2022’s day – which got off to a great start with the news that Archie Wilks is now in full remission after 42 months of care. Almost 70 golfers from across the sector came together on the day itself, forming 17 teams, he said, and the atmosphere of the event was absolutely electric.  

“You can only really judge the success of it by the fact that so many people came back that we increased the teams from 13 to 17, without any problem,” he said. “We filled those spaces without too much rallying around – and the feedback that we got from people who attended was thanking us for a great event and saying they’d be back next year…

“The real judge will be the success of future years as well. If people keep coming back and keep enjoying it then we’re doing something right… And it’s great to see the profession come together because it’s maybe not the most elite golf course in the country. So, for people to come and play who are used to the highest-calibre of golf courses is really confirmation that they’re coming for the right reasons – to enjoy themselves in good company and support a great cause.”

Of course, all of this is made possible by a combination of people being willing to give up their time and of companies being willing to throw their weight behind important causes, Cook said. With that in mind, he paid special tribute to this year’s sponsors – with special thanks to Intelligent Vehicle Services (gold sponsorship), Strategic Insurance Services (silver) and Auxillis (bronze).

Teeing up for 2023

Two years into the high-stress planning that these events take hasn’t dampened Cook’s penchant for organising and the date of September 14, 2023, is already in the diary for the next Sterling Cup.

“So that’s in the calendar and God willing, we’ll all be heading across to the Manor of Groves at Sawbridgeworth and getting out on the course again,” he said. “So, hopefully, we’ll continue to build momentum and attract sponsors – we had 13 sponsors this year and could do with about 18 sponsors for next year.”

Those looking to register a team can do so through the dedicated Sterling Cup webpage, he said, or alternatively, reach out to him through LinkedIn for more information. For those looking for a reason to get involved, he suggested they look at the Facebook page ‘Archie’s Journey’ which shares his progress to date.

“When you see those pictures, and you see his face, and you see him and the family in America, you understand it all,” he said. “The [Wilks’ family] got to take some time in Disneyland recently and seeing him having breakfast with Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse and the rest, for me, just makes all the stress and anxiety and sleepless nights that go into arranging something of this scale absolutely worth it.”

If you would like to get involved with the 2023 Sterling Cup tournament, you can sign up today. Did you attend the 2022 event? If so, let us know how it went in the comments below.