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The Warwick Rowers Christmas Message - to The Queen!

29/12/2015 09:16 GMT | Updated 24/12/2016 10:12 GMT

For at lot of us in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth, the Queen's Christmas message is as much a part of the holiday as bad jokes, Baileys and Brussels sprouts.

But we at the Warwick Rowers got to thinking - who does a message for the Queen? Shouldn't she be able to kick back after a few sherries and let somebody else do the heavy lifting for a change?

So here is the letter the Warwick Rowers have written to The Queen. We resisted the temptation to make it a video for health and safety reasons (are you really going to mess with the blood pressure of an 89 year old lady, especially when it might be considered treasonous?), and have instead sent a signed calendar.

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Your Majesty,

We read that you enjoy receiving correspondence from your subjects throughout the Commonwealth, and we thought we would write to share our story with you.

We are the men's rowing team at the University of Warwick and for the last six years we have been producing a calendar. Given the state of our student finances, it is a blessing that ours is the sort of calendar where lack of a costume budget has been no barrier to success.

When we began our calendar, it was with the modest ambition to raise a few hundred pounds for much-needed boat repairs. Six years later, we have raised over half a million pounds to support our club and other good causes.

We believe our success lies in the very generous support that we received early on from the gay community, and how we responded to that. Although most of us are straight, we immediately embraced our LGBT supporters. Over time, and somewhat to our surprise, this has led to our calendar becoming an international symbol of challenging homophobia, particularly in sport.

The calendar now sells in over eighty countries around the world, and our tour of the United States last Christmas generated half a billion page views in US online media. (If you google Warwick Rowers, you will see there is a lot out there!)

Since 2014, 10% of calendar profits have gone to funding the establishment of Sport Allies, a project to make sport more inclusive, particularly of LGBT young people. Team sport is where the problem of exclusion is worst. For example, Sport Allies' research has identified that LGBT students who engage in sport at university are 50% less likely than their heterosexual counterparts to play a team sport.

As rowers, we value hugely how participating in team sport has benefitted each of us in terms of our personal and social development, and we know that those seeking to recruit university graduates value these qualities, too. In today's competitive labour market, that can be the difference between success and failure. Our goal, through the message of our calendar and through the work of Sport Allies, is to help young LGBT people access the same life chances that we have. For us, it is nothing more than good sportsmanship and fair play.

Just last month, some of us were lucky enough to travel to New York to help launch an initiative by Visit Britain to attract more LGBT visitors to the UK. We were very flattered to be told that our calendar is an example of how modern Britain is able to maintain traditional pursuits and values yet demonstrate progressive leadership in a swiftly changing world. It prompted us to write this letter to you now.

It is an enormous honour for all of us to be able to make a contribution, no matter how small, to how Britain is seen in the world, and we are honoured, Ma'am, to remain Your Majesty's humble and obedient subjects - in all our states of attire.

The Warwick Rowers

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And to the rest of you, a very Merry Christmas from all of us - if Santa has brought you our calendar or our new book, you'll be seeing a lot of us in 2016!

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