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HITZ Champion Award shortlist

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Premiership Rugby has announced Sale Sharks’ Ian Fennell, Wasps’ Danielle Mallinson and Worcester Warriors’ David Peplow as the three finalists for the HITZ Champion award supported by Comic Relief. This award will be presented at the HITZ Awards on 28 November.

Through the power of rugby, HITZ tackles head on some of the greatest challenges facing young people today like crime, mental health challenges and unemployment.

The HITZ Champion award recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help a participant to overcome their personal barriers.

As a national HITZ partner, Comic Relief is supporting the Champion award, and Charlene McKenna – a senior account manager in UK fundraising and partnerships – who helped judge the awards, could hardly believe the difference the three entrants made.

“The Champion award is for a person who has worked to support a HITZ member,” she said. “So the award recognises the journey travelled by the HITZ participant and the impact of the support of the champion.

“We wanted to make sure we were looking at the actual impact and the social outcomes that had been achieved by the HITZ participants.

“The three people we shortlisted we felt went above and beyond their remit, there were many areas where they helped the young person when they didn’t necessarily have to.

“I think that has really helped the young person to achieve their goals.”

HITZ Champion Award – shortlist

  • Ian Fennell – Sale Sharks
  • Danielle Mallinson – Wasps
  • David Peplow – Worcester Warriors

Sale Sharks’ Ian Fennell helped participant Claudette overcome the anger issues that were impacting her education. Claudette struggled following the death of her father and Ian supported Claudette in her search for and ultimate success in finding full-time work.

Wasps’ nominee Danielle Mallinson has been shortlisted for her support of HITZ participant Paul, who tragically lost his mother to cancer during his time on the scheme. Danielle would go above and beyond to make sure Paul could make lessons, putting on extra classes to ensure he did not miss out, driving him home and helping him speak to his mother during the final days of her life.

Worcester Warriors’ David Peplow completes the shortlist after he used his military background and training exercises to galvanise a group of participants with a wide range of personal and psychological issues. David somehow managed to traverse anxiety, depression, drug addiction, homelessness, low self-esteem and serious anger problems to galvanise a group who had tried almost every other form of education available.

HITZ aims to increase young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.

And McKenna admits she was honoured to help judge the entries after seeing all of the HITZ success stories.

She added: “It’s wonderful to be a part of these awards and to be judging them. The award ceremonies are a fantastic opportunity to actually meet the young person and that is what our work at Comic Relief is all about.

“Helping young people from a disadvantaged backgrounds and seeing them achieve their goals and making progress in their life is great to see, and is really helped by the work of the champions.”

This year’s glittering HITZ awards will take place at Barclays HQ on the Monday 28 November, where participants, mentors, and former international rugby stars alike will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements.

HITZ is delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon. HITZ uses rugby to increase young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.

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