Businesses urged to support organ donation as World Transplant Games heads to NewcastleGateshead

25th July 2018

Olympic Cycling coach and transplant athlete Justin Grace among the speakers at a briefing event at Close House Golf Club in Northumberland as businesses across the region were encouraged to support the World Transplant Games 2019 (WTG 2019). (L-R): Transplantee athletes Vicky Horan, Alicia Armstrong, Graham Wylie CBE, chair of the local organising committee for World Transplant Games 2019, Justin Grace the Olympic Cycling Sprint Coach and a liver transplantee, Alex Bell, Yuri Matischen, Managing Director at MLS and Phoebe Pace.

Great Britain Olympic Cycling coach and transplant athlete Justin Grace was among the speakers as businesses across the region were encouraged to support the World Transplant Games 2019 (WTG 2019) at a briefing event at Close House Golf Club.

Around 100 business leaders from the region gathered at Close House, the venue for the WTG 2019 golf tournament, where they heard inspiring stories about transplantation and opportunities to support the Games in NewcastleGateshead next year. Last year over 400 people died waiting for a transplant*, highlighting the importance of the Games and raising awareness of organ donation.

Attendees heard from Grace, the GB Olympic Sprint Cycling coach and a liver tranplantee himself, Yuri Matischen from sports consultancy firm MLS, who deliver the British Transplant Games each year and will deliver the programme for WTG 2019, Kari Owers founder of communications agency OPR and North East England Chamber of Commerce President John McCabe.

A panel of transplant athletes of all ages from across the region, as well as donor mother Suzanne Davis, were interviewed by GB & NI Team Manager Lynne Holt and talked about the important role that the Games play in organ donation. These included Alex Bell, heart transplant, who medaled at the European Transplant Games recently, Vicky Horan, two-time kidney transplant and GB team member and junior athletes Phoebe Pace (8), liver transplant and Alicia Armstrong (17), bone marrow transplant and GB team member.

Graham Wylie CBE, who is Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, also spoke about the organisers’ vision to create a lasting legacy from the Games by encouraging as many people as possible to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and, importantly, to share their wishes with family members.

The Games will take place from 17-24 August 2019 and see 3,000 participants from 50 different countries descend on the North East. The support of businesses is vital to ensure the success of the Games as an international sporting event but also in increasing awareness of organ donation.

Graham Wylie CBE commented: “It is a great honour that the World Transplant Games is coming to our region next year. The support of the business community is very important to make the Games a huge success and there are great opportunities for involvement, from sponsorship and CSR to volunteering and advocacy.

“Those competing will show the power of organ donation and being given a second chance of living a normal and active life. As well as putting on a brilliant international sporting event, the Games will increase the awareness of the NHS Organ Donor Register and, by doing so, save many more lives.

“Our aim is to put on the best Games yet and I am sure the whole of the North East will get behind us.”

John McCabe, President of North East England Chamber of Commerce added: “In addition to being an exciting sporting occasion, these games rightly celebrate the ability, determination and bravery of those who have undergone transplant surgery. Those of us in business should take inspiration from the participating athletes and reassess what we think is possible when we really strive towards our ambitions.

“The Chamber is encouraging our members to back the games and to spread the word about the importance of joining the donor register. This is another wonderful showcase for our region and for the message that underpins these games.”

The World Transplant Games 2019 are delivered by destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, on behalf of the U.K. charity Transplant Sport, and in partnership with a range of stakeholders.

Further sponsorship opportunities are available to businesses looking to support the World Transplant Games NewcastleGateshead 2019. To express an interest in sponsorship, email: or visit: