The journey one learner from the Bath Rugby HITZ programme has taken was celebrated on Tuesday evening at a star-studded awards ceremony.
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 that was attended by World Cup winners Jason Robinson and Phil Vickery.
There were five winners on the night with Jake Britton of the Bath Rugby HITZ programme going home with the HITZ Young Ambassador award, supported by Premiership Rugby, as well as a brand new watch from Premiership Rugby partner Citizen.
Jake collected his prize from Bath prop Kane Palma-Newport and admitted the evening would live long in his memory.
“It was a really good experience and a really good night. It was probably the longest walk I’ve ever done down to that stage – but when I got there I calmed down a bit!” said Jake, who beat Odin Quinn of Sale Sharks and Carter Moran from Wasps to the gong.
“All the guys at Bath have been amazing, all the support I’ve received, especially with travelling in and home – they understand what I need to go through and how annoying it can be with public transport – they’re so supportive.
“I’ve had loads of messages on social media saying ‘well done’ and ‘good luck’ – it’s great to see.
“The HITZ programme has changed my life and it can change others’ lives. It’s that simple.”
The HITZ Young Ambassador award goes to an individual who has done the most to represent the HITZ programme to their peers and in their communities.
The award recognises someone who has grown and changed for the better, and whose positive attitude has made an impact on those involved in and the programme, and that is certainly the case for Jake.
He was referred to the HITZ programme in January 2017 after dropping out of college and becoming despondent with life following family issues.
But he is now a massive character and a natural leader that others in the HITZ programme at Bath look up to, even travelling one-and-a-half hours each morning and night to attend.
The future is also bright as Jake has since picked up a part-time job and is looking at a career in coaching, all of which makes him a worthy winner.
Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Director, added: “Jake has clearly made huge strides since joining HITZ, and we were really impressed with the way he’s become a natural and confident leader of others on the programme.
“The judges also really admired his involvement in the Bath Rugby Foundation cycling fundraising event, taking a bike mechanics course to be able to provide technical support to the riders.
“This has made Jake a brilliant advocate for the programme, and a worthy winner of the Young Ambassador award.”
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.
If you know someone who would like to join a HITZ programme, or if you would like to find out more information about the programme, visit http://wearescl.co.uk/premiership-rugby.