TOP BAR - Fixtures

HITZ Champion Award winner keen to share the spotlight

HITZ Champion Award winner keen to share the spotlight

Ross Ferguson chose to dedicate the HITZ Champion Award to his colleagues after picking up the accolade at the 2018 HITZ Awards on Wednesday night.

HITZ, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which, with the help of its funders Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Comic Relief, works with more than 2,000 14-18 year olds across England every year, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional member rugby clubs.

And to celebrate the hard work of those involved in the programme, Wednesday night saw a star-studded HITZ Awards take place at the BT Centre, with the likes of former World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi and current Leicester Tigers prop Ellis Genge in attendance.

Four awards were handed out on the night and Ferguson, general manager at the Holiday Inn, Shepperton, took home the HITZ Champion Award, supported by Comic Relief, having offered every student on London Irish’s HITZ programme the opportunity to gain valuable experience at his hotel, testing them in real life situations.

Ferguson and his team helped the students build confidence, organise a celebratory three-course meal and helped one learner gain an apprenticeship and two other jobs at hotels.

“It feels great to have won,” said Ferguson. “It’s very rewarding to pick up the award and it’s not for me really, it’s for my staff because they’re the ones that have largely done the majority of the work with the learners that have come in.

“We’re delighted, we’ve won an award, what more could you ask for?

“It’s not really about that though, it’s about hopefully getting young people into employment and making sure their self-esteem is raised a bit, that’s what’s most important.

“Many of these youngsters have had a lot of challenges in their life and they’re overcoming it. These youngsters have got a lot to offer society.”

The 2018 HITZ Awards saw a glittering London ceremony at the BT Centre attended by the likes of 2014 World Cup winner Alphonsi, Leicester Tigers’ Genge and former Bath Rugby and Wasps player Ed Jackson.

Using rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, HITZ increases young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the necessary personal, life and employability skills to get back into education, training, apprenticeships and employment.

London Irish centre Fergus Mulchrone handed out the Champion Award to Ferguson and said: “The HITZ Awards gives recognition to those that have managed to get a second chance and build themselves up which is fantastic.

“It’s great to see rugby’s values being used to build confidence and getting young people into work. There’s not many programmes like this around and if we can use rugby values more and more to help kids then it’s brilliant.

“Rugby teaches people teamwork and it can help build confidence if people have low self-esteem, HITZ is a way of bringing out peoples personalities.”

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.

To get all the latest news from Premiership Rugby sign up to our Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest Premiership Rugby news, ticketing news, information, offers and exclusive competitions