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Aaron Phelps-Naqvi earns prestigious gong at HITZ Awards

Aaron Phelps-Naqvi earns prestigious gong at HITZ Awards

A member of Sale Sharks’ community team was given his time in the spotlight after winning a top prize at the 2017 HITZ Awards.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme, which works with over 2,000 disadvantaged 14-19 year-olds across England every year.

And on Tuesday evening the hard work put in by countless individuals up and down the country was celebrated at the 2017 HITZ Awards, a glittering London ceremony at the BT Centre.

There were five winners on the night with Sale Sharks programme manager Aaron Phelps-Naqvi walking away with the HITZ Champion award, supported by Comic Relief, as well as a brand new watch from Premiership Rugby partner Citizen.

Aaron collected his prize from former England Women’s captain Maxine Edwards and admitted the evening would live long in his memory.

“It’s fantastic to be nominated and even better to win, although it was a bit of a shock,” said Aaron, who beat Bath Rugby’s Jonti Johnson and Beth Robson from Worcester Warriors to the gong.

“It’s massively rewarding just seeing the progress these young people make on a daily basis which is excellent.

“A lot of them haven’t engaged in education for many years, but they do on our HITZ programme.

“That’s one of the main reasons I go in everyday, that I’m able to help get these young lads and ladies on the right track.

“It provides them with a platform to develop their skills, it gives them an opportunity to test career paths out as well before they make a decision.”

The HITZ Champion award, supported by Comic Relief, recognises an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to support HITZ participants to overcome personal barriers.

And since becoming a member of the Sharks Community Trust team in 2015, Aaron has done exactly that, delivering the full HITZ Learning Academy programme to 46 learners in the past 12 months – a record for one centre in a single academic year.

Originally from South London, Aaron uses his experiences of growing up on an estate to relate to the young people enrolled on the Sale Sharks HITZ programme and has undergone a series of teaching qualifications to develop himself further.

The hard task of picking the winner fell to a group of judges, with Lisa Bedding among them and acknowledging that while all the nominees were deserving of the award, that Aaron was a worthy winner.

“Aaron has clearly gone above and beyond the remit of his job requirements,” said Lisa, Sport for Change Grants Manager at Comic Relief.

“The results he’s achieved for the participants is really impressive, and credit to the hard work he’s put in.

“He’s clearly an excellent role model to the young people on the programme, and has made a fantastic positive impact for young people.”

The HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, uses rugby’s strong core values to improve life and employability skills for disadvantaged young people, underpinning success in education, life and work. See @HITZrugby for more information.

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