We are delighted that Naomi continues to be part of our BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Throughout her career representing Great Britain in the Mixed Coxed Four, Naomi won six World Championship Gold Medals, Bronze Medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and Gold Medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
"BRIT exists to support and improve young adult mental health, as well as to unite the education, sport and charity sectors. I know Students’ Unions and students have amazing energy, enthusiasm and determination when it comes to raising funds for great causes, and it is infectious which is why I love supporting BRIT year on year.
The annual BRIT Challenge is a feel-good February fundraiser that enables students to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, and take part wherever they are; on campus or at home, in whatever way they choose. It’s a great way to improve mental health and fitness, to raise vital funds and to HAVE FUN!
I hope every UK university, college and specialist college will embrace the BRIT Challenge, making it a firm fixture in their annual Calendar of Events. If every institution enters just one team or several teams, the potential impact the BRIT Challenge could have on both improving and destigmatising mental health throughout the UK is mind blowing.”
Naomi Riches MBE
Paralympic Gold medallist
Naomi will be supporting students and staff at Buckinghamshire New University and will also encourage fellow current and retired Paralympians to join the BRIT Ambassador family.
Born in 1983, Naomi Riches was just 8 weeks old when she was diagnosed with a visual impairment. Her parents knew immediately that this would throw up many challenges and difficulties; however they didn’t realise then that their child would not let her disability stand in her way. At the age of 12, Naomi was National Disabled Swimming Champion.
During her years in mainstream school in Middlesex, Naomi was severely bullied for her impairment yet she stuck to her dream which was to be an artist. She attended the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) College in Worcester (where she took up rowing) and graduated from Buckinghamshire New University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in metalwork and jewellery design.
In 2004, Naomi was offered the chance to join Great Britain’s Adaptive Rowing Team, she seized this opportunity. Finally, this was something she could do because of her visual limitation rather than being told she couldn’t because of it.
Shortly after competing in her first World Championship in 2004, Naomi was involved in a horrific road traffic accident. This left her with multiple fractures including skull fractures and broken ribs, she spent a week in an induced comas. Naomi’s recovery was based on her overwhelming desire to compete at the 2005 World Rowing Championships, which she did winning the Gold Medal.
Over the next ten years Para-rowing developed into a full time Lottery Funded Paralympic Sport. Naomi competed in the Mixed Coxed Four, winning six World Championship Gold Medals, a Paralympic Bronze Medal in Beijing and became Champion at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
As a result of the success in London, Naomi and her crew were awarded MBEs in February 2013.
Throughout her career Naomi has faced various challenges, as all athletes do, but her determination along with her ability to adapt and to see the positives in the world around her has kept her fighting.
In 2013, Naomi retired from International Rowing and is now at Motivational Speaker and Performance Coach; inspiring others with her incredible story and enabling individuals, teams and businesses to realise their potential.
In 2016, Naomi became the first woman to row the length of the River Thames and completed the challenge in under 48hours, setting a new Guinness World Record in the process.
In 2021, Naomi was appointed Chair of Henley Women's Regatta; the world’s premier International Rowing Regatta for women.
You can follow Naomi on Twitter and Instagram.