Lacey Marshall did not just get her life back on track but inspired others to do so – making her a worthy winner of the HITZ Champion Award supported by Comic Relief.
Lacey, who was nominated by Sale Sharks, scooped the prize at the HITZ Awards ceremony, held at the Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf.
The multi award-winning HITZ programme 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. HITZ is run in partnership with Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.
The HITZ Champion Award, supported by Comic Relief, recognises an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to support a HITZ participant to overcome their personal barriers.
Lacey did just that when she took time to help Deland, a fellow learner, turn his life around. He is now on a pre-apprenticeship to become a floor and wall tiler and admits he never would have done so without support.
See Lacey’s story here
Indeed, Lacey went above and beyond despite coping with her own troubles.
“I started HITZ at the same time as Deland – he was the class joker, he had no aspirations to go anywhere, and I saw that he could go somewhere but he just needed a bit of guidance to help him through,” she said.
“Before I started HITZ, life was difficult because I lived in a hostel. I wasn’t getting out of bed until 7 in the evening, I wasn’t doing anything that normal teenagers would do.
“My friends would be going out to a meal and parties, but I wouldn’t – I’d be at home sleeping.
“I hated school, I could not stand school. It was the sitting down, I was scared to put my hand up and ask questions, I was scared to interact with other classmates because they were totally different to me.”
Lacey’s personal journey captured the imagination of everyone at Sale Sharks, according to HITZ officer Tom Leader.
“We chose to nominate Lacey because of where she’s gone as a person – turning a confused young girl into someone who is now in full-time employment and is really going somewhere,” he said.
“She was little bit quiet when she came on, she wasn’t too sure whether it was right for her. But Deland coming on at the same time gave her that confidence to take the programme by the scruff of the neck.”
Lacey is a true ambassador and champion of the HITZ programme, she is not only helping Deland turn his life around but progressing on a career path to success herself.
Ben McDonald of Worcester Warriors and Chris Dawson of Northampton Saints were also shortlisted for the award after making their own impressions on the HITZ programme.
The annual HITZ Awards recognise some of the most inspiring young people in England. The HITZ programme delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. See hitzrugby.com