Bristol Bears’ Nick Fenton-Wells named Gallagher Community Player of the Season
Nick Fenton-Wells’ tireless efforts off the pitch for Bristol Bears saw him named Gallagher Community Player of the Season at Wednesday evening’s star-studded awards ceremony.
Bristol Bears are one of the most active Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs in the community. From squad litter-picking and hospice visits to activities for Movember and Restart Rugby, Fenton-Wells has been at the heart of things this season.
The 32-year-old former Bedford, Saracens and Stormers flanker, who was appointed as the club’s team manager this week, received the award in part due to his ability to connect his fellow players with the Bristol Bears Community Foundation.
On picking up the award, he said: “I feel quite privileged up there and receiving this award. I think I’m probably receiving this more on behalf of the club and the Community Foundation and what those guys have done.
“Not only for the community of Bristol but also what they’ve done for me and the squad.
“The vision that Pat Lam set out for the club is combined with what the Foundation do and it would’ve been a complete disservice if we didn’t get the players out into the community.
“To my squad-mates and all those boys who’ve been awesome in getting involved, this is for them and the foundation – there’s no way I would’ve been able to do anything without their support.”
Fenton-Wells, who now retires from playing, has spent three seasons at Ashton Gate and raised his hand to be part of the club’s new leadership group just under two years ago, taking on the role of community liaison.
Thank you, Fents. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/BcALtW581F
— Bristol Bears Community Foundation (@BristolBearsCF) May 23, 2019
Of course, a vast majority of sports clubs do work in the community but Bristol’s success owes much to Fenton-Wells’ ability to present to his teammates their options, and getting players to suggest their own programmes.
As a result, the Bristol Bears Community Foundation has supported dozens of community activities including matchday fanzones, mascot and birthday appearances, Q&A sessions, while causes supported include Bright Sparks, Dad Dancing, and Project Zulu Rugby.
Fenton-Wells continued: “What was interesting for me was having access to the Foundation but also how each individual programme actually meant something to individual players themselves.
“People didn’t understand what was there for us to be involved in but when we got Craig Capel (Community Development Manager) to come in as head of the Foundation and present on each programme, it was matter of boys choosing a programme because they might’ve experienced something specifically within their family.
“And so it was a relationship they built with those running the programme – it’s about finding a solution to make communications between the Foundation and the club and the players.
“That allowed us to get that engagement of rugby into the community. For me, that’s what’s made me proudest. I allowed that communication between the players and Foundation to happen.”