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Outstanding achievements of five inspirational young people to be recognised at The Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards 2022

Today Premiership Rugby reveals a shortlist of five inspiring young individuals who have been shortlisted for the Outstanding Achiever of the Year Award, sponsored by Wooden Spoon. The winner will be crowned at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards ceremony, attended by MPs, taking place at the House of Commons on 12 July.

The Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards is a celebration of the incredible work and impact achieved by Premiership Rugby and its clubs, demonstrating how their work is making an invaluable contribution to addressing some of the biggest societal challenges. Premiership Rugby seeks to help tackle inequalities that exist, believing wholeheartedly that all young people, no matter their background or ability, should have equal access to sporting opportunities which help them fulfil their potential.

Wooden Spoon are proud sponsors of this award designed to reward a participant who has excelled in any of Premiership Rugby’s education, health or social inclusion programmes, highlighting the potential of the game to change lives off the field.

Shortlisted are:

Fallan Barlow (Gloucester Rugby) had a turbulent childhood at home coupled with an unbearable school life where she avoided lessons and bullying impacted heavily on her mental health. With her self-esteem low, Fallan was drawn to the wrong people. Once at the HITZ programme she surrounded herself with positive motivational individuals who lifted her to break through barriers that once held her back. Fallan formed friendships through sport and realised how physically fit she was which helped spur her on to gain skills that would set her on the right path. Fallan now has a job working at the Kingsholm Stadium preparing for matchdays and a desire to keep taking on new challenges. By being able to recognise who is a positive influence, she has been able to turn her life around and Fallan’s future looks bright.

Kieran Bolton (Wasps) had a challenging upbringing and has had to deal with a great deal of trauma from an early age. He was taken into care at the age of 6 after his father took his own life, meaning he moved between foster homes regularly. The 17-year-old enrolled in the HITZ programme after deciding the traditional college education route wasn’t working for him. The smaller class sizes and support from our HITZ officer were something that greatly benefitted Kieran. The draw of getting experience that could develop into full-time employment was something that he was keen on. He impressed Park Sheet Metal during a work placement and has been given the opportunity to continue to develop his skills with the automotive supplier – a company which works with customers including Aston Martin, Bentley and McLaren. His impact at Park Sheet Metal has led the company to quickly recruit the next cohort of work experience students.

Andy Breaker (Worcester Warriors) had cysts on his brain and spinal cord problems which caused him to black out in April 2018 after falling down stairs and fracturing his skull and two vertebrae. After waking up from an induced coma and being told he may not walk again, Andy started on a new journey. His courage, determination and resilience meant he went from using a wheelchair to walking sticks, to one stick for support to playing touch rugby at Pershore RFC. In addition, he managed weekly dialysis due to kidney failure and recovered from a kidney transplant in May 2021. His motivation to get involved in sport has never wavered and Project Rugby provided opportunities to steadily increase his mobility, gain confidence and meet new people. Andy has made firm friends at Project Rugby, travelled to new places with the Worcester Warriors Foundation and has unbelievably now progressed to running onto the ball at rugby sessions. A sensational comeback and inspiration to us all.

Jacob Walker (Harlequins) Jacobs’s autism, OCD and anxiety meant he struggled with mainstream education. He became isolated, shy and retreated from any interaction with classmates or teachers. He also felt compelled to help his mum support his three siblings at home. This meant education took a back seat until he enrolled on the HITZ programme. A stark change in his engagement with education resulted in an English GCSE and he is now studying for his Maths GCSE whilst working part-time in a restaurant. Jacob’s increased confidence has led to full-time employment offer on completion of his studies and he talks of how HITZ and the way it is delivered has given him a new lease of life. From struggling with eye contact and engaging with peers to now asking disruptive classmates to be quiet so he can concentrate, Jacob garners respect for speaking up. Due to his commitment, he now has the enviable decision of whether to take up full-time employment or pursue a career in sports coaching.

Chloe Wells (Bath Rugby) was born prematurely at just 1lb and 5 oz. For the first 9 weeks of her life, Chloe was on life support and while this was part of incredible medical interventions it damaged her vocal cords to such an extent that she only has partial use of her voice box. Throughout her life, this led to anxiety and low confidence in social situations culminating in her confidence hitting rock bottom at the start of year 12 when she started college. A quiet and nervous Chloe, lacking in confidence, joined the HITZ programme at Bath Rugby Foundation in Sept 2021. Gradually she found confidence and her self-esteem grew through group discussions and acceptance by her peers. She started playing for Bath Rugby Ladies Trojans and competed in Project Rugby events and the Bath Mixed Ability Cup. Her hard work ethic and friendly polite nature have put Chloe on the road to success. Finally at a celebration dinner to mark the Foundation’s 18th birthday she found her voice. Emerging empowered, determined and full of self-belief, Chloe spoke in front of 300 guests. She now helps manage groups of primary school children and is striving for her next step to independence by completing coaching courses at college. She is a brilliant role model for these young people in terms of not allowing your challenges to hold you back.

Juliette Gillard, Marketing, Comms & Income Generation, Wooden Spoon “The Outstanding Achiever of the Year award was a such hard category to judge as all were worthy winners. Through the programmes, each has excelled in their own personal way to build a better path for themselves in the future. Their stories highlight how the accessibility of Rugby can open doors once thought closed and show that anything is possible with the right support and determination.”

Community programmes such as HITZ, Project Rugby, Champions and the Land Rover Cup are just some of the initiatives that Premiership Rugby run nationwide to help young people fulfil their potential.

Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby Community & CSR Director says, ‘Thanks to the support of partners like Wooden Spoon we are proud to say we help over 250,000 people annually via our community programmes. Our partners and the community teams, supported by our invaluable volunteers help us to increase the opportunities for young people no matter their background to play rugby and experience the difference bringing sport into their lives can make.’

Other awards being presented at the ceremony, attended by MPs and stars from Premiership teams, include Rugby Ambassador of the Year, Community Coach of the Year and Community Volunteer of the Year.

Visit www.premiershiprugby.com/community for more information and join in the conversation via the hashtag #RugbyChangingLives.

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