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Press Release | 14 Dec 2020

British Winter Olympic legends reunite using the power of 5G

Two of Britain’s greatest Olympians have been ‘reunited’ with each other, and the sport they love, in a specially created 360 degree live-streamed virtual sledging experience powered by Vodafone 5G.

14 December, 2020: Two of Britain’s greatest Olympians, Innsbruck 1964 bobsleigh champions Robin Dixon, 85, and Tony Nash, 84, have been ‘reunited’ with each other and the sport they love this Christmas, in a specially created 360 degree live-streamed, virtual winter sledging experience, powered by Vodafone 5G.

Using 5G and customised virtual reality applications on two Oculus Quest 2 headsets, the Winter Olympic legends were treated to a live sledging experience from the comfort of their homes in Devon and Northern Ireland. In the sledge was Robin’s grandson Rory Dixon, a semi-professional skier who was given some tips by former British skeleton racer and Olympic Gold Medallist, Amy Williams, in the Chill Factore Indoor Ski Slope in Manchester.

Rory Dixon sledging on the specially-equipped 5G bobsleigh.

The heart-warming experience demonstrated the power of technology to bring together families and friends and keep them connected, even when they are miles apart. Robin and his grandson Rory, who share a passion for winter sports, have not been able to see each other much this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rory Dixon on the specially-equipped bobsleigh with its 360 degree cameras.

Robin Dixon (Lord Glentoran CBE), Olympic Gold Medallist said: “It was great to see Rory today, as well as Tony again too as I hadn’t seen him for a while. Tony and I are great friends but we’re quite a long way away from each other – it’s thanks to technology we are still able to stay in touch. To be able to have this experience with them both has been incredible. I really didn’t even know technology like this existed!”

Olympic gold medallist Robin Dixon experiencing virtual sledging thanks to Vodafone 5G.

Tony Nash, Olympic Gold Medallist said: “Robin and I will always be close. We used to meet up from time to time, but now we’ve both got older and we don’t get around nearly as much as we did, I haven’t seen him for a couple of years and with the pandemic, a get together just hasn’t been possible. It’s been lovely to catch up with him today on the slopes – even if it’s not the kind we were used to! How marvellous that this technology is here to bring us together again to get a taste of what we love best – being on the snow!”

Olympic gold medallist Tony Nash experiencing virtual sledging thanks to Vodafone 5G.

Amy Williams MBE, British Skeleton racer and Olympic Gold Medallist said: “It’s been amazing today speaking with Robin and Tony and sharing this experience with them. 2020 has been a challenging year for so many people, so this Christmas it’s more important than ever to connect with family and friends. It’s great that Vodafone is lifting the nation’s spirits and helping people stay in touch using technology.”

Rory Dixon and Amy Williams at the Chill Factore Indoor Ski Slope in Manchester.

The 5G sledging experience takes inspiration from Vodafone’s 2020 Christmas advert where a young boy stuck indoors with a broken leg gets to “share” a sledging experience down a snowy slope with his sister via virtual reality, haptic technology and 5G. In a year like no other, it shows that despite distance, through the use of innovative technology, we can stay connected to each other and to what makes this time of year so special.

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “Technology is playing a massive role in keeping us all connected throughout this most challenging year. People have embraced it like never before, especially the older generations, so to be able to use it to reunite friends and family to do something otherwise impossible is fantastic. We’re delighted to be able to create this special moment for Robin and Tony.”

Throughout 2020, Vodafone has done what it can to keep people connected, and at Christmas this is particularly important. For the month of December, Vodafone is offering 30 days’ free data to 200,000 customers who don’t currently have unlimited data. The offer is redeemable on VeryMe via the MyVodafone app and must be activated by 21 December. This new offer for customers joins Vodafone’s extended free data offer for NHS workers (now extended until 31 January), the VOXI For Now tariff – which gives job seekers endless calls and data for £10 a month for six months – and the schools.connected programme.

The schools.connected programme helps pupils who struggle to access education from home because they don’t have the right connectivity. The programme, which originally offered connectivity to 250,000 primary and secondary school children, has now been extended and is open to Further Education colleges.

Vodafone has also been supporting charity partner Barnardo’s in 2020, providing unwanted smartphones and tablets to those in need with its Great British Tech Appeal, and raising vital funds through its sponsorship of Kidsmas Live Concert and Light Up initiative, which asks children across the UK to design and share their Christmas drawings as part of a giant 5G light display. For every drawing submitted via social media using the hashtag #ConnectTheMagic, Vodafone will donate £1 to Barnardo’s, raising vital funds for the charity.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

*For every unique eligible image submitted by the 30 December, Vodafone UK Foundation will donate £1 to Barnardo’s, up to a maximum of £25,000 (excluding Gift Aid).

Amy Williams MBE

Amy Williams is a former British skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist. Originally a runner, she began training in skeleton in 2002 after trying the sport at the University of Bath. She won Gold at the Vancouver 2010 Games, becoming the first British individual gold medallist at a Winter Olympics for 30 years. She retired from the sport in 2012, and has gone on to become a sports presenter and commentator for the BBC, as well as a personal trainer.

Robin Dixon (Lord Glentoran CBE)

Thomas “Robin” Valerian Dixon, 3rd Baron Glentoran, is a former British bobsledder and Northern Irish politician. He is also a former Conservative Party Shadow Minister for the Olympics. Dixon was granted leave from the army to participate in the 1964 Winter Olympics where he won Gold in the two-man bobsleigh.

Tony Nash

Antony James Dillon Nash is a former British bobsledder. Competing in two Winter Olympics, he won Gold in the two-man event at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, alongside brakeman Robin Dixon.

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of October 2020, we have 5G in 57 locations in the UK and 193 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

In September 2020, leading mobile benchmarking company, umlaut, named Vodafone as London’s best network for 5G. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population. And in October 2020, Vodafone was named Network Provider of the Year by readers of leading technology advice website, Trusted Reviews.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

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