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Olympic-level student fundraiser receives MBE at Windsor Castle

Charlotte Nichols at Windsor Castle with her MBE medal.

Charlotte Nichols and Stuart Bates at The Wave in Bristol during their Spennylympics challenge.

Charlotte with mum Sally Nichols and dad Steve Nichols at Windsor Castle.

Press release issued: 28 February 2023

A student who raised £185,000 doing all 102 Olympic sports over the 17 days of the Tokyo Games today received her MBE from Princess Anne.

Charlotte Nichols MBE and friend Stuart Bates MBE (who was unable to attend the investiture ceremony due to illness) had to horse ride, pole vault, sail and scale climbing walls. They completed a triathlon, marathon, 50km speed walk, 10km swim and 240km road cycle.

The duo set out to raise £10,000 for Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) and named the challenge ‘the Spennylympics’ in memory of Stuart’s brother Spenny, who sadly died from the disease.

Today, Charlotte, 23, was officially appointed an MBE by Princess Anne at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Charlotte, a University of Bristol medicine student, said: “It was an incredible experience to attend Windsor Castle today to receive my MBE medal.

“It was so special to meet The Princess Royal, especially as she is the royal patron of the MNDA. It was lovely to talk to her about our fundraising, she was so knowledgeable about the MNDA and what we had done, and she was particularly excited to hear about the horse riding events!

“It was a real shame not to have Stuart there with me, as we went through so much together to achieve this. It was really special to have my family there though, I still can’t quite believe that this is all real!”

Charlotte was joined at Windsor Castle by mum Sally Nichols, dad Steve Nichols and sister Ciara Nichols.

Stuart, a window cleaner from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, said: “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the ceremony after coming down with something, but I’m pleased that Charlotte was able to go and put the spotlight back on this incredible charity, the people they help and the work they do.

“It was a tribute to my brother Spenny, who was the driving factor behind all of this. I know Spenny would be incredibly proud, but he’d also see the humour of it: going to castles isn’t the kind of thing that happens to families like us.

“When I was with Spenny in the hospice we’d talk a lot about his fundraising for MNDA, and I know he wanted us to carry that on. To be able to do that is a great feeling.”

Charlotte and Stuart’s challenge struck a note with the British public and led to thousands of headlines and hundreds of TV and radio interviews, including TV appearances in more than 50 countries.

For their fundraising efforts they were invited to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Charlotte said she was “so shocked, but incredibly honoured” to attend the funeral. They were seated next to Winston Churchill’s grandson and watched as some of the world’s most important and famous people entered Westminster Abbey to pay their respects.

Stuart and Charlotte continue to fundraise. Stuart recently joined a local boxing club’s project to improve young men’s mental health - he was introduced to the club during the Spennylympics challenge.

He joked: “My love of sport hasn’t diminished despite everything we put ourselves through!”

Charlotte is in her fourth year at the University of Bristol and is studying hard for her finals while doing placements in several hospitals and raising money for a children’s cancer charity. Currently in paediatrics, she plans to become an orthopaedic surgeon once graduated.

“It was a bit surreal asking my placement supervisor if I could have the day off to collect my MBE from Windsor Castle, they had no idea we’d done Spennylympics!” she said.

“I haven’t really changed my name to Charlotte Nichols MBE anywhere, I think the only place I have is my Tesco Clubcard.”

At 23, Charlotte is young to be appointed an MBE, something that is not lost on her.

“I do wonder if I’ve peaked a bit early!” Charlotte joked.

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