Northampton Saints have been announced as winners of the Health Programme of the Year Award for their 'Kick Smoking into Touch' programme at the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group's Citizenship Awards.
The Saints, along with winners from three other categories, will now go on to compete for the title of Community Initiative of the Year 2010 at an awards 'shoot-out' to take place at the House of Commons on March 4th. Here the clubs will face another round of interrogation by a judging panel including Derek Wyatt MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group; Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby; and Kevin Roberts, editorial director of SportBusiness magazine. It is the second year that the club has reached this prestigious event.
Judges were particularly complimentary of Northampton Saints 'Kick Smoking into Touch' initiative. They said the programme, now in its sixth year, was sustainable and innovative. They liked the focus on smoking and substance abuse, and noted how this was used to target the audience very effectively. While children were the main focus, the use of external partners opens the message up to the whole household, which they held to be a very commendable achievement.
As well winning an award, Northampton Saints were commended in the Participation Programme of the Year category for their 'Saints and Mirus IT Community Programme' and also in the Education Programme of the Year category for 'TRY TIME at Saints'.
"Everyone in the department is delighted that we have received this award," said Saints head of community Sian Haynes. "I would especially like to thank Stephanie Canning at Wellingborough Council and former Academy player Rob Milligan for delivering the project on the club's behalf especially Rob, who was seconded to the department while he rehabilitated from injury. I would also like to thank Mirus IT Solutions, as well as all our other sponsors, for their continued support.
"We have already begun delivering this year's 'Kick Smoking Into Touch' project in Wellingborough, and having secured additional funding I am delighted to announce that we will be taking the initiative into Northampton and Corby later in 2010."
"The scale of the community work the Premier Rugby clubs do is truly phenomenal," said Derek Wyatt MP. "The clubs and players are really committed to the projects that they run and they work very closely with their partners to produce significant results. We are now in our fifth year of the Citizenship Awards. The community programmes we are seeing are getting better and better every year. The judges and I will have a tough time picking an overall winner on March 4th."
Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby added: "Our clubs have always maintained a commitment to grass roots investments and in the ten years of professional rugby, the Guinness Premiership clubs have developed an infrastructure and the experience to make them first rate partners for public and private sector organisations. The winners announced today are at the forefront of that, but all the clubs demonstrated excellent programmes and a commitment to learn from the best practice examples recognised today."
"Working in the sport industry we are very aware of the potential that teams have to do good in their community, whether it be improving health, education, social inclusion or participation," said SportBusiness magazine manager Luke Upton. "Rugby clubs are at the heart of their communities and provide a platform for doing good. It's great that Premier Rugby is able to reward the clubs that fulfil this potential".
The interim judging panel consisted of experienced community investors, including The Big Lottery Fund, the Drinkaware Trust, Food Standards Agency, Astra Zeneca and the NSPCC.
The winner's list in full:
Health Programme of the Year
Winner: Northampton Saints 'Kick Smoking into Touch'
Runner-up: Saracens 'Sport for Health'
Participation Programme of the Year
Winner: Saracens 'Community Dance Programme'
Runners-up: Harlequins 'Inner City Player Development Programme' and Northampton Saints 'Saints and Mirus IT Community Programme'
Social Inclusion Programme of the Year
Winner: Bristol Rugby 'The Phoenix Project: Bright Sparks Programme'
Commendation to Worcester Warriors 'Worcestershire npower tag inclusive programme'
Runner-up: Saracens 'Field of Dreams'
Education programme of the Year
Winner: Bath Rugby 'Language Through Sport'
Runner-up: Northampton Saints 'TRY TIME at Saints'
About Mirus IT Solutions
Mirus IT are a leading provider of managed IT services and IT support to businesses across Milton Keynes and Northampton. Focusing heavily on proactive management and monitoring of our clients networks, we provide a truely all inclusive service allowing businesses to focus on what they do best.