Dan Hart is hoping more troubled youngsters will enrol onto Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme after he was handed a top award at the inaugural HITZ Awards ceremony.
Dan from HITZ Worcester Warriors won the HITZ Champion award supported by Comic Relief at Barclays HQ in London earlier this month.
The award is designed to recognise a HITZ participant or member of the community who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help someone on the programme to overcome personal barriers.
To find out more about why Dan won the HITZ Champion award, please click here.
The award was handed to Dan as a result of his work with all of the youngsters enrolled in Worcester's HITZ programme, but especially Nathan Collins from Redditch.
Nathan was homeless and battling drug addiction but, thanks to Dan's help, he is now on the straight and narrow.
"It's great to win this award," said Dan. "It's really nice to have all the hard work recognised.
"I first got involved with HITZ Worcester Warriors on work experience from university and then the HITZ Officer Stuart asked me to stay on, which I did and now I'm there full-time.
"Nathan joined about five months ago and he had a lot of issues to begin with but we've worked hard with him and he has improved a lot.
"When he first joined, he was addicted to drugs, alcohol, he didn't see his family and he was homeless, so we had a lot of work to do but we've done that and he has turned everything around which is incredibly rewarding.
"Nathan has got another three months on the programme so we'll continue working with him, make sure he's got a stable home and ensure that he doesn't fall into any of the bad habits that he fell into in the past.
"I would say for anyone who is going to join HITZ that as long as they want to change, then come along and we'll do everything we can to help them on that journey."
Nathan insists that Dan is a worthy winner, admitting that without his help he would be back at square one yet again.
"With Dan it is different because I could talk to him about stuff and Dan took me under his wing and has been there to support me for the last five months," said Collins.
"It was his idea to go to the police and tell them about the drugs and stuff and it is Dan who has given me a new lease of life.
"He has helped me with money problems, personal hygiene and I am so grateful for him and I want to say thank you to him because he has done it all in his own time, after hours.
"He has just been there for me and without Dan and HITZ, I would still be on the drugs at rock bottom or dead in a gutter somewhere."
Wasps flanker Sam Jones was in attendance to present the award and insisted Dan and Nathan are both an inspiration.
"I'm hugely privileged to be a part of HITZ, and every single time you head to a training session or event the young people you meet are hugely inspirational," said Jones.
"They are playing rugby to get themselves out of the bad situations that they are in which is a brilliant thing to see.
"If I leave a coaching session after a couple of hours having given them just the tiniest bit of inspiration and motivation then I am happy and that's my job done.
"It's a huge part of the role of professional rugby players that is often forgotten about."
The award winning HITZ programme tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. 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. It gives them the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment. Please visit hitzrugby.com to find out more.