Mark Pawsey, the Member of Parliament for Rugby and Bulkington (left) with Ben Nutt and Richard Palframan (right)
An inspirational member of the London Irish HITZ programme was honoured at the glittering Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards on Tuesday.
Ben Nutt collected the BreakThru Achiever of the Year Award, supported by Premiership Rugby, thanks to his efforts to overcome his own personal challenges on the London Irish HITZ Programme.
Ben, despite suffering from ADHD, has become a key and valued member of the programme with his mother saying that it has ‘changed his life'.
Receiving the award from London Irish prop Richard Palframan, an emotional Ben spoke in front of hundreds of guests at the Houses of Parliament.
“The London Irish HITZ Programme has given me a chance in life that I never thought I would ever get,” said Ben.
“The programme has been a fulfilling experience and has boosted my self-confidence and motivation. To receive this award is fantastic, but I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I’ve done without the help of the London Irish HITZ Programme.”
Ben’s mother Joanne opened up proceedings when she was called to the stage to talk about her son’s involvement with the HITZ Programme. Describing it as ‘life changing’ for Ben, her speech tugged at the hearts of the audience.
Every year hundreds of people up and down the country give their time to help run and participate in Premiership Rugby initiatives such as – but not limited to – Aviva Tackling Numbers, HITZ, On The Front Foot, Rugby 4 All, Something To Chew On, Move Like A Pro, and Urban Rugby Squad.
And the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards seeks to recognise the standout achievers within those programmes, with Tracey Crouch MP, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, inspired by those shortlisted for the awards.
She said: “Sport has an amazing power to bring communities together, whether that’s through a game of rugby in the local park or thousands of fans watching on match day.
“These awards showcase the remarkable community champions who keep sport at the heart of society and help more people get active and take part. I would like to congratulate all the winners and everyone who made the shortlist.”
Bath Rugby Foundation’s Todd Burge claimed the PLAY Achiever of the Year gong, supported by Sporting Equals, after embodying the spirit of the PLAY campaign through playing rugby with the Urban Rugby Squad programme.
Sale Sharks’ Paula Bradbury was crowned the Community Volunteer of the Year, supported by BT, thanks to her outstanding contribution to helping establish the women’s game in greater Manchester.
And the afternoon was rounded off as Kris Tavender scooped the Community Coach of the Year Award, supported by the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, thanks to his efforts managing the Bristol Rugby Community Foundation Spectrum Project.
Julie Elliott MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rugby Union, said: “On behalf of the Group, I applaud all of those coaches, volunteers and participants who have been recognised for their huge contributions towards Premiership Rugby’s community programmes.”