Dmitry Leus, of the Leus Family Foundation, is working hard to combat the aftermath of the lockdown.
As the UK’s impressive vaccination rate continues and the roadmap towards the country opening up again is visible, if not entirely fixed, the aftermath of this locked down year is already on the mind of Dmitry Leus.
The London-based entrepreneur and former European fencing champion heads the Leus Family Foundation, which was recently awarded official charitable status by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and the welfare of young people and their families is at the heart of the foundation’s mission.
The Leus Family Foundation was founded long before COVID-19 hit and the focus has always been on young people. But the intense impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of young people has added urgency to the Foundation’s work.
Experts have made very clear the impact of the pandemic on the young. Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, recently told The Times that although children may not have fallen ill in large numbers from Coronavirus, they have “paid a huge price for the measures we’ve had to take to contain it”.
In the same Times report, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of Sage, warned of the potentially catastrophic “collateral damage” to children.
“There’s a real question about how much of that is a wound that heals and how much of it will lead to long-term scarring,” he explained.
“We can talk about what we think the loss of education will do; we can say what we think the harms are around mental health. But it’s also the more subtle stuff. Have we shifted a whole generation towards anxiety and being more risk-averse? Have we shifted a whole generation away from physical contact, and all the things that come with human contact that bring benefits to us? Those are all the things we don’t know.”
The toll that the pandemic has taken on the younger generation is worrying to Dmitry Leus.
He said: “This has been a tough year for everyone. But I think our young people might be the ones suffering the longest lasting impact of this unusual year. They are still developing and their characters are still forming.
What we know for sure is that we have babies who were born into a lockdown situation, toddlers who have never seen anyone outside their home without a mask, teens who have had their wings clipped just as they should be socialising independently and university students listening to lectures on Zoom in their childhood bedrooms.
We do not yet know the full impact that this isolated year will have had on them. We will still be trying to understand that in years to come. What we do know is that this generation will need our support.”
The practical challenges that the young generation faces are a priority for him: “Imagine being 18-years-old right now. Or 21. Finishing school or university. It must feel a little bleak. How has this crazy year affected your university chances? Will you be able to get a job when you graduate, given the post-pandemic economic difficulties we are likely to endure for years to come?”
However, it seems his approach is one of solutions and finding answers: “Our Foundation’s response to this problem will be to continue to target where we see the most need. Our sporting programme, helping disadvantaged children in South London to experience fencing and all the confidence-building and discipline that sporting life can deliver is one example. This is the kind of area where we can give the young a real boost.
“We know that the pandemic conditions have been extra tough for families with children with chronic illness, so supporting causes like St George’s Hospital Charity will remain a priority.”
At the height of the pandemic, the Leus Family Foundation responded to urgent appeals from charities for the Royal Free Hospital, Princess Royal University Hospital and St George’s Hospital to support doctors and nurses on the frontline through care packages, mental health provision and the creation of respite spaces for staff. It also donated to Runnymede Food Bank.
Dmitry said: “Those collaborations will continue to be important for us, as sadly there will still be hungry families as we climb out of this pandemic situation and we want to help where we can, especially to improve the life opportunities for children.
“We know that we’re all in for some challenging times ahead. The most important thing we can do is to stay positive and always look for ways in which we can make a difference. For our Foundation, that means targeting young people and their families to ensure that we build for the future by creating better chances for the next generation”.
He concludes on a characteristically positive note: “We do know that resilience is one of the most important qualities that we can have in this modern world and I have no doubt that this young generation has been building their resilience throughout the pandemic.
“But they need a helping hand now and we owe it to them. Essentially, they sacrificed a lot to help protect the old and the vulnerable and now we need to repair any damage and help this young generation.”
Imperium Investments has donated equipment to Brixton Fencing Club for senior fencers including one electric wireless set for recording hits while fencing and four ordinary spool systems.
The donation is part of Imperium Investments’ sustained initiative to assist the club to allow children from across Lambeth to experience fencing through lessons and access to the club’s facilities.
The company’s managing director Dmitry Leus, a former European fencing champion, said: “Sport can play a transformative role in a person’s life. It is not only about excelling at the sport itself.
“There are also tremendous life skills to be gained from dedicated training and the experience of competition.
“We are delighted to play a role in bringing the sport of fencing to local children and to work in close cooperation with the Brixton Fencing Club.”
Chris Tidmarsh QC, chairman of the club’s committee. welcomed the donation, saying: “Brixton Fencing Club was founded in 2004 and has always aimed to make the sport of fencing more accessible to local children. The equipment will help us enormously with that aim for many years to come.”
Established in 2003, the Brixton Fencing club is now one of the premier “epee” clubs and the largest in the UK. Dmitry Leus, Founder of The Leus Family Foundation, is thrilled to be working alongside the club in order to raise awareness of the sport and make it more accessible to local children.
A former European fencing champion himself, Dmitry believes that the sport can unite communities by bringing together those of all ages and sporting abilities. With a growing awareness of the importance of both mental and physical health, especially in the current climate, the charity is keen to encourage children to take part and to show that the sport can be both fun and rewarding.
“Fencing is a wonderful sport. It’s disciplined but most of all it can be enjoyable and a great way of encouraging children to try their very best” says Dmitry. “I would like more kids to be involved from all walks of life. Being myself from humble beginnings this is a message that is particularly powerful for me.”
The Leus Family Foundation will provide funding for equipment and coaching to the club as well as sponsoring individuals and young people showing promise. Dmitry says: “I believe that there is a future European, maybe even Olympic champion in Brixton and I want to help find them”.
“Brixton Fencing has always aimed to make the sport of fencing more accessible to local children. The equipment and support from The Leus Family Foundation will help us enormously with that aim for many years to come.” Chris Tidmarsh QC, chairman of the club’s committee.
First junior Imperium Fencing Trophy for London Cup held at Whitgift
Over 180 London school children from more than 10 fencing clubs across London gathered for the inaugural city stage of the Imperium Fencing Trophy for juniors on Sunday 28 April.
The event is thought to be the largest and most inclusive fencing tournament in London for young fencers and was organised by Brixton Fencing Club together with Imperium Investments, a long term supporter of British junior fencing.
The competition took place at Whitgift, the most respected school for sports in South London and the place which has generated British Olympic champions and successful athletes in sports including football, cricket and swimming.
The Imperium Fencing Trophy (IFT) is a junior British-European epee fencing competition. The competition has 3 stages: City of London Cup, National British Cup and European Cup.
The Trophy was founded by Imperium Investments and its CEO Dmitry Leus, a former European fencing champion and a patron of Brixton Fencing Club. The mission of the project is to popularise and develop fencing in Great Britain among young people and to make it more attractive and accessible for children.
The children competed in the age categories U9, U11, U13 and U15 in the city stage of the Imperium Fencing Trophy. Those competing came from clubs such as Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Central London Fencing Club. The level of competition was high, involving fencers who represent the English and Wales national teams. This added to the positive, passionate and competitive atmosphere of the day.
Speaking at the event, Dmitry Leus said: “We believe that sport can play a transformative role in a person’s life. It is not only about excelling at the sport itself. There are also tremendous life skills to be gained from dedicated training and the experience of competition. We are delighted to play a role in bringing the sport to local children and give them more opportunities for personal development in professional sport or just for fun.”
Mr Leus has been engaged in fencing since the age of 12 and he went on to be European champion at the age of 17. He is passionate about passing the same opportunities on to the younger generations.
He explains: “I have a strong belief in the role sport can play in a young person’s life. The development of children’s sports is an important contribution to the future for all of us and this is why we at Imperium Investments focus some of our charitable efforts in this direction.”
After a long day of robust single combats, the main prizes were gained by the junior fencers of Leon Paul, Chelsea and Knightsbridge (U9 and U13).
The next stage of the tournament will be the National British stage of IFT. It will take place in September and will involve the representatives of British fencing clubs from Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and other British cities.
The European Cup of ITF will finish the season in November and will determine the best junior fencers among British and European fencing clubs.
The spirited, competitive nature of sport has a lot to teach children – and that’s why former champion fencer Dmitry Leus and Imperium Investments are sponsoring The Imperium Fencing Trophy
At first glance, sport might appear to be only concerned with the polar opposite notions of winning and losing. And while that might be the case at the elite level of professional sport, there’s certainly more to it when it comes to sporting activities for young people.
Playing sport can teach children a number of important life lessons. From the importance of practice, dedication and self-reliance to fair competition, teamwork and the forging of friendships, sport can impact young people’s lives in a number of positive ways.
The significance of learning and appreciating these values are among the reasons why Dmitry Leus, CEO of wealth management experts Imperium Investments, is involved in the promotion of fencing for children in London and across Britain.
“We believe that sport can play a transformative role in a person’s life,” he explains. “It is not only about excelling at the sport itself. There are also tremendous life skills to be gained from dedicated training and the experience of competition. We are delighted to play a role in bringing the sport to local children and give them more opportunities for personal development in professional sport or just for fun.”
Commitment to fencing
Before making Britain his home, the Turkmenistan-born Leus was an avid fencer himself. He took up the sport aged 12, and within five years he was a European champion. Imperium Investments’ commitment to popularising fencing in Britain has now extended to establishing the inaugural Imperium Fencing Trophy, a junior British-European epee fencing competition.
Following April’s City of London Cup stage, where more than 180 London school children from fencing clubs across the capital took part, a National British Cup competition will be held in September. The Imperium Fencing Trophy will culminate with the European Cup in November. By the end of the year, the best junior fencers at Under 9, U11, U13 and U15 levels among British and European fencing clubs will have been determined.
Fair competition and responsibility
“The development of children’s sports is an important contribution to the future for all of us,” Leus says, “and this is why we at Imperium Investments focus some of our charitable efforts in this direction.”
By making the sport of fencing more attractive and accessible for children across communities in the UK, Leus is demonstrating traits that he believes underpin Imperium Investments – in particular the spirit of fair competition and responsibility.
Harrison Nichols, one of the most promising fencers of this year, has successfully participated in U23 British Fencing Epee National in London. Being only 21, he gained the Champion title the second year in a row.
Harrison Nichols, one of the most promising fencers of this year, has successfully participated in U23 British Fencing Epee National in London. Being only 21, he gained the Champion title the second year in a row. Harrison also took part in the European Under 23 championship in Armenia in April. Besides, he’s going to Canberra, Australia, 23-28 November 2018, as the chosen one for the Commonwealth Fencing Championships. To complete the list of achievements Harrison has just got a grant for training support from Imperium Investments.
He had been selected to visit the training camp in Tauberbischofsheim driven by the DFB Epee Group. This is actually the place where Olympic athletes are trained. Thus, it is a great chance to practice and compete with skillful fencers and get a top-level coaching. Harrison claimed that support by Imperium Investments gave him an opportunity to develop his skills and participate in further competitions without having stress on financial issues.
CEO of Imperium Investments, Dmitry Leus, who has actually been a fencer since childhood, points that it is extremely meaningful for him to support young talent. He believes that the trip to Tauberbischofsheim is something that could change Harrison’s life because only a few people from abroad are allowed to join, which makes it even more important. Dmitry and his team are sure that young fencer would seize the chances that are coming in 2018 and would put his best foot forward.
Georgina Usher, the chief executive officer of British Fencing commented on the necessity of this kind of financial support due to the fact that fencing is an unfunded performance sport. She affirmed that it may give Harrison and his coach an opportunity to build a continuous training plan without having any doubts on the financial matter.
British Fencing has become an inspiring connection between Imperium Investments and not only Harrison Nichols, but also another participant of Tauberbischofsheim training camp – Paul Sanchez Lethem, the UK’s top-ranked British male fencer.