In case any of you were not aware (if so, why have you not been reading my emails and social media posts?!), myself, Greg Dillon, of GreatDrams and Fred Laing of independent Scotch Whisky blenders and bottlers Douglas Laing joined forces in July to battle on the squash court all in the name of charity. In doing so, and owing to your immense generosity, together we raised over £4,500 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and Ollie’s Army, a charity aiming to battle Batten’s disease.
Below is a lot more detail, but I wanted to extend my immense gratitude for all your support, your donations, your shares of posts and your well wishes. This is the start of something pretty special… more details will be divulged in due course.
Two months in the planning the match pitted Laing & Dillon against each other for the first time in the whisky industry’s inaugural charity squash event. Originally the prize if Fred won would be a Crunchie bar – his guilty pleasure – and the prize for Dillon overcoming Laing would be a bottle of Port Ellen from Fred’s personal collection, but they both agreed that regardless of the outcome the bottle from Fred’s collection was to be signed by each competitor and auctioned for the winner’s charity.
After a gruelling match Fred overcame Greg by three games to one, with each man clearly leaving everything on the court.
Explaining his charity choice, Laing explained; “my Dad, FDL, the company founder was an RAF man through and through, and when returned from World War II unscathed, the Scotch Whisky business became his focus. We bottled a butt of Braeval back in 2013 with all proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund, and now the company is seen as part of the RAF family. We try to help this great cause, particularly in this, the RAF’s 100th Anniversary year whenever possible”.
On why he chose Poynton-based Ollie’s Army, Dillon explained that “Batten’s is a devastating rare genetic disease, we have a little boy ourselves and the story of Ollie and his sister really touched myself and my family. No child or parent should have to suffer in this way, which is why we are not only supporting this great cause, but why I was willing to be flung all over the court by Fred in order to raise funds”.
Afterwards, Fred Laing commented that:
“Greg was a great sport and a memorable, worthy opponent in many ways who would just not lie down; though at stages he did fall down. Seldom have I witnessed such a sharp angled boast so effectively carried out from the front of the court, so it was real shame that the ball was more often at the back. He is a rising star with great squash potential, but he does not travel well, so I’ll look forward to his suggested rematch South of the border next year”.
Laing also insisted that despite the result, the bottle should be auctioned for Ollies Army, a kind and loving gesture from a true gent.
Dillon, smiling despite the result, added that:
“This was all about doing something a bit different for charity that utilises our passion for playing squash in order to raise much needed funds for these two great causes. – it was a superb battle, one I will not forget in a hurry, especially the state my shoulder, knee and pretty much all muscled are in. Fred’s competitiveness was great to see, just wish I could have closed off that fourth game to take it to a deciding fifth. I cannot thank Fred enough for not only his, and his fabulous company’s support for GreatDrams over the years, but also for the generosity shown by donating one of his own bottles to be auctioned for the Ollies Army charity”.
That Port Ellen 34 Year Old, fresh from Fred Laing’s personal collection hailed from the legendary dead distillery of Port Ellen on Islay and was distilled in May of 1982, before being charged from one refill hogshead cask – barrel DL#11481 – and bottled November 2016. When auctioned it fetched £1,060 from an anonymous bidder.
About Ollie’s Army
Children with Battens Disease cannot make an enzyme that is responsible for eliminating waste that builds up in the brain. Over time affected children suffer worsening seizures and progressive loss of sight and motor skills. Eventually children with Battens Disease become blind, tube fed, bedridden, and unable to communicate.
Currently there is not treatment for Battens Disease. Battens Disease is always fatal.
About the RAF Benevolent Fund
The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity with a proud tradition of looking after its own. They are there for all serving and former members of the RAF as well as their partners and dependent children.