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The Team

Julia Immonen Charity Founder and CEO of SPORT for FREEDOMJulia Immonen is a sport and media personality campaigning to bring freedom from modern day slavery and human trafficking. The charity was born out of Julia’s record breaking achievement of rowing 3000 miles unaided across the Atlantic Ocean in just a 7 meter by 2 meter rowing boat from the Canaries to Barbados in 2011/12. Voted 12th out of Zest Magazine’s Top 20 most Inspirational Women in Sport Julia travels around the world championing Sport for Freedom and inspiring others to action. Julia is an inspirational, motivational speaker who has spoken at events held by GlaxoSmithKline, The Boodles, Mastercard, Alpha, Tour de France Fan Park and at the Council of Europe to name but a few. Post row, Julia became a published author.Julia has worked for Sky Sports News for the past 9 years and is a passionate Arsenal fan and keen surfer, skier and adventurer.For more information visit: www.sportforfreedom.org
Debbie Debbie Beadle Debs is the Youth Programme Coordinator at ECPAT UK (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking)Her role at ECPAT UK involves supporting child victims of trafficking in the UK through advocating for their rights, ensuring they are protected and running a weekly support group.She is no stranger to a challenge and last year completed 30 physical challenges before her 30th birthday to raise money for ECPAT UK.’I see young people who have been abused in the most horrific ways. Each day I am amazed and humbled by how they survive and find strength to live their lives. This challenge will be nothing compared to what these children suffer’
Helen Leigh Helen Leigh, Sports Sciences Graduate from Blackburn. Currently working for British Triathlon in the Events Team.I have rowing experience through University where I achieved two British University Championship Medals and at Agecroft RC in Manchester where I reached the final of Women’s Henley in the senior 8 against Yale. I have a huge love of the outdoors having been in the mountains from a young age and taken part in the Cutty Sark Tall ships race, am no stranger to the Ocean. I also love long distance open water swimming and all things wild!For over a year I have been looking to take part in this amazing life changing challenge. When I was put in touch with the Row for Freedom crew I knew immediately that this was the team I was meant to be part of. I had heard nothing about the cause before and it has opened my eyes to the horrors of human trafficking. I am proud to be part of something that will potentially change the lives of millions for the better through raising awareness and fund-raising. I am also very keen to promote sport to young girls and I can’t think of a better way to be a role model than to cross the Atlantic with a team of 6 strong, capable, fantastic women.
Kate Kate Richardson Kate, from Northern Ireland, is the youngest of the RFF team. At 22, she has recently graduated from the University of Ulster and is pursuing her career in psychology. Being a part of a family that fosters children for over eight years, Kate has developed a passion for young people who are denied the right of growing up in a healthy functional family. She is fully aware of how real a problem trafficking is, not just around the world, but also in her own community. Children in care are now a target to gangs and are a vulnerable group in our society that we should be doing more to protect. Therefore, when asked by Julia to be part of the team, she jumped at the chance.As a sports fanatic and dedicated hockey player, Kate possesses drive, passion and resilience when under pressure. Also being a qualified gym instructor, she has a highly competitive work ethic when it comes to ‘the hard yards’ of training. The opportunity to use sport to ultimately bring change to this human trafficking crisis is a “dream come true!”
Katie Katie Pattison-Hart Katie, was born and brought up in Brunei. She was educated in the UK where she graduated in Financial Economics.She joined a graduate trainee programme with a British bank and went on to set up one of their branches in Dubai, UAE. Katie has lived in the UAE for the past 6 years. After 8 years gradual progression through the bank in the UK and UAE Katie moved onto be the Sales Director for a UAE based consultancy firm.Katie has always been passionate about sport and competed as a spring board and high board diver after 10 years as a gymnast. She ran her first marathon in Jordan last year and has recently been focusing more on her modelling and presenting work along with improving her fitness levels ready for the challenge to row the Atlantic in December. Katie is well known for trying new sports from training in Thailand’s boxing camps, through to doing bungee jumps in New Zealand.Katie is excited and privileged to be a part of the Row For Freedom challenge with 5 amazing women for such a worthy cause which captured her heart.