Community Recognition Awards 2021 - Glasgow South Region Winners

Community Recognition Awards 2021 - Glasgow South Region Winners

​The 2021 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners from the Glasgow North region were announced in a virtual awards presentation on Friday 11 June.

In the 2019/20 season, the Scottish Rugby annual awards structure was revamped and renamed the ‘Rugby Development Awards’, however in-light of the domestic league coming to a halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s awards followed a new one-off format, focusing on the off-field efforts of clubs and schools across all five regions of Scotland over the course of the last year.

The winners were announced via the respective region’s Facebook Group between 6pm and 7pm with recorded video messages delivered by Scottish Rugby’s Rugby Development team, Scottish Rugby Council representatives and Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr.

Award winners were announced for seven categories including; Community Champion Award brought to you by SP Energy Networks, Diversity & Inclusion Award brought to you by Scottish Rugby, Young Person’s Award brought to you by Mitsubishi Motors, Inspiration Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award both brought to you by Tennent’s, Charity Fundraiser Award and the Adam Gray Memorial award.

Each winner will shortly receive a personalised trophy and prize from the award sponsor.

A Special Recognition award was also presented to acknowledge the late James Hannay, who suddenly passed away earlier this year at the age of 43. James was a P.E teacher at the North West Community Campus and was heavily involved with Dumfries Saints RFC, making significant contributions to the sport in his local community.

Scottish Rugby Glasgow South’s Regional Director, Jen Griffin said: “With our sport as we know it placed on hold for over a year, it has undoubtedly been a difficult time and yet members from the rugby community across the Glasgow South region have still achieved so much.

“We're extraordinarily proud of all of our winners and indeed all of our nominees. It has been humbling to hear about the commitment our clubs and schools have shown not only for the sport, but for their local community, charities and other people.”

Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr added: “We often say in sport that volunteers are the lifeblood of the game. This year, that hasn’t just been a saying. Rugby volunteers, players and committee members all over the country have shown with their actions, commitment, determination and inspiring acts of kindness just how true that is. I am pleased that we have been able recognise that impact and say thank you to everyone for their efforts with the Community Recognition Awards this year.”

The respective award winners and nominees are listed below:

​Inspiration Award - brought to you by Tennent’s: Ashleigh Douglas, Moffat RFC

Ashleigh Douglas has been described by Moffat RFC as a “true inspiration” to not only the club but the wider Moffat community.

For the last 10 years, Ashleigh has proudly served as the Junior Rep on the club committee. Thanks to her leadership, the junior section have gone from strength to strength with over 140 kids playing at Holm Park.

Despite the challenges the last 12 months of coronavirus restrictions have presented, Ashleigh’s determination and enthusiasm to give children in the local community the opportunity to play rugby has been second-to-none.

Looking beyond the sport, Ashleigh’s sense of community spirit has also been demonstrated in buckets. With support from club volunteers, Ashleigh has hosted a number of covid-safe community projects to encourage the local community to get out and about.

These community projects have included; a Halloween trail, a drive-thru Santa's Grotto, a ‘share the love’ window display and an Easter egg trail.

​Diversity & Inclusion Award - brought to you by Scottish Rugby: Dominic Stewart, Dumfries Saints RFC

Dominic Stewart has been described as an individual who was “worked determinedly” to make a difference in Dumfries by breaking down social and financial barriers to participation in rugby and bridging the gaps between communities within the area.

Dominic has been running a number of inclusion initiatives from the club including; securing funding to provide players access to suitable training kit, obtaining donations of Easter eggs and selection boxes at Christmas, delivering activity to support more girls into rugby, and supporting young people’s mental wellbeing.

The club say that “there is nothing that Dominic won’t do to support young people in rugby”, always placing the safety and wellbeing of the players he works with at the heart of everything he does.

Prior to Dominic taking up post as Rugby Development Officer with Dumfries Saints, the club only delivered rugby to a handful of girls through their mini’s section.

Recognising the gap in transitioning for mini to youth rugby, Dominic set about creating a pathway programme for girls to not only continue their rugby journey, but also start one.

The success of this programme has led to an increase of over 40 girls playing across three squads for Dumfries Saints, which Dominic continues to manage and coach himself.

Furthermore, Dominic has championed the fight in tackling period poverty in the local area and supported the club to become better equipped to support the girls’ needs.

Beyond the rugby field, in his spare time Dominic has also been involved in the School of Rugby and Police Scotland’s ‘Saturday Night Under the Lights’ project. This project offers young people a place to go on a Saturday night in a bid to avoid anti-social behaviour in the community.

The club firmly believe that the “understanding and empathy” Dominic shows for players and their families, has been a lifeline to helping individuals feel supported and listened to.

Community Champion Award - brought to you by SP Energy Networks: David Parr, Paisley RFC

David Parr, Vice President at Paisley RFC has been recognised for “working tirelessly” to ensure that the club remains at the heart of the local community in Paisley.

Over the course of the last year, David has worked on a number of projects to promote inclusivity within the club and reach out to local community groups.

In September 2020, David was heavily involved in the launch of Paisley's Women and Girls section, which has gone from strength to strength in the following nine months.

Girls and women of all ages now train twice a week at the Anchor playing fields and are set to enter Scottish Rugby’s regional development league in the upcoming season.

Ever determined to do more, David is now in the process of creating plans to start walking rugby side and introduce a mini’s section at the club, as well as exploring ways in which the club can offer multi-sports facilities to encourage involvement at the club from community groups.

More recently, in April this year David organised a “community engagement week” to create better links between the club and local businesses. Following the success of this week, the club became a drop-off spot to collect donations for a local foodbank.

Away from the club, David has also been involved in many other community projects, including one of his own creation, delivering fish and chip suppers to elderly residents of Newton Street Care Home in Paisley on a Friday afternoon.

David secured a discounted price from a local chip shop and was supported in delivering the meals by volunteers from the club.

Resident Margaret, 93, was delighted with the gesture and the chance for some new company. She said: “I haven’t had a treat like this in a long time. It was nice to see new faces too”.

David’s contributions to his local community were further recognised earlier this week when he won Glasgow Warriors SP Energy Networks Community Hero of the Year award.

​Charity Fundraiser Award: Ailidh Howie, Greenock Wanderers RFC

This year, during the month of February, 11-year-old Ailidh Howie set herself the challenge of cycling 100km for Neuroblastoma UK.

Ailidh, who plays rugby at Greenock Wanderers, is coached by Ross Mitchell, who lost his little girl Rosie Veronica to neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that mostly affects children, in 2019.

She wanted to mark the second anniversary of Rosie's passing by doing something kind.

The Moorfoot Primary pupil is part of 'Rosie's Rascals' - a group of supporters who each year take on fundraising efforts and challenges in memory of the local youngster.

Ailidh, who lives in Greenock with mum Samantha Irvine, initially set a target of £150 but completely smashed it, raising over £1,000 by the end of the challenge.

Ailidh's mum Samantha says she 'couldn't be prouder' of her efforts, saying: "Each year Ailidh tries to do something to raise money in memory of Rosie.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Ailidh and the fundraising that she does. To continue with the fundraising even through lockdown and home schooling just shows how much she wants to help others and thinking of ways that she can do that!"

Young Person’s Award - brought to you by Mitsubishi Motors: Shelley Main, Ardrossan Academicals RFC

21-year-old Shelley Main has been credited for “spending the whole of the pandemic” encouraging female players, old and new, to get into rugby by running online fitness sessions, arranging socially distanced training and general fitness classes [when circumstances allowed] to make rugby more accessible to women in the local area.

Having just recovered from a cruciate ligament injury, Shelley was looking forward to getting back to playing the sport she loves last March, but then coronavirus hit.

Although she was naturally disappointed with the circumstances, the club have praised Shelley for throwing herself into encouraging other women keep moving and spark an interest in rugby.

Shelly’s motivational spirit was made even more remarkable, as she still gave so much time and energy to encouraging local women to try rugby, whilst grieving the loss of her father who sadly passed away during lockdown.

Her efforts have culminated in 20 brand new players coming along to training at Ardrossan Women’s team. The club described Shelley as “inspirational to young and old” and explained that they and “wouldn’t have a team without her”.

​Lifetime Achievement Award - brought to you by Tennent’s: John Dyer, Greenock Wanderers RFC

John Dyer is described by Greenock Wanderers as someone who has “ploughed a lifetime of experience” back into the grassroots game in Scotland.

Having been involved in the Scottish rugby scene for some 60 years now, John has fulfilled a number of roles on and off the field, from team captain and to club President.

John’s strategic vision as President took the club from strength to strength, as he helped realise the club’s dream by overseeing the planning and development of their £1m state-of-the-art clubhouse facility.

The club describe John’s involvement in rugby as “transcending the generations” by making himself known to young and old alike. John has paid particular attention to supporting junior players in their quest to improve individual or group skills, as well as nurturing budding match officials to take up the whistle.

As well as supporting and leading in roles with Greenock Wanderers, John has also been involved in a range of roles as part of the game’s wider remit. For many years he acted as an official and selector for the now defunct Glasgow and District Union side; he also served as a referee, a spotter and an assessor for the West of Scotland Referees Society, and he has been part of district and national committees to Scottish Rugby.

“A man of integrity and a man of his word”, the club describe John as someone who gets the job done. His can-do attitude has been matched with his passion for developing the grassroots game, with particular attention to growing women’s participation.

John has been a “driving force” in encouraging women and girls take up rugby and has worked tirelessly to ensure that these new players are fully integrated as part of the club.

Throughout the course of the last year, John has continued to support the club holding a number of key roles including Director of Rugby and Covid-19 Safety Co-ordinator.

In addition to this, he has engaged the support of a club Mental Wellbeing Officer as a point of contact to help members who’s mental health may have been adversely affected over the last year.

​The Adam Gray Memorial Award: Jamie Houston, Grange Academy

15 years ago, a young pupil from Grange Academy approached his teacher, Mr Jamie Houston, to ask if he know anything about rugby, and if the school could introduce it as a sport.

Admittedly, not knowing all that much, Jamie decided to offer one lunch time session of rugby a week for pupils at Grange Academy.

Fast forward to 2021, the school in Kilmarnock now boasts a wide range of boys and girls youth teams at S1, S2 U15, U16 and U18 levels.

Grange Academy became one of the first schools in Scotland to offer a School of Rugby programme, which was co-ordinated by Jamie over the last 11 years.

As part of this rugby programme, pupils are able to enjoy the opportunity to take part in games and visit international matches at BT Murrayfield, an experience many regard as a highlight of their time in the programme.

Jamie not only strives to use rugby as a vehicle for driving physical wellbeing, since 2019 he has been focused on supporting players in the programme, and further afield with their mental wellbeing.

The motivation to do this was sadly spurred on by the loss of four pupils from the school who had taken their own lives.

Connecting with other schools across Ayrshire, Jamie delivered a rugby festival in partnership with Kilmarnock RFC called ‘Talk a Good Game’.

Between playing games teams participated in five different workshops covering focusing on drugs, gambling, sexuality and bullying, subjects in life which all link into mental health.

In the award nomination a spokesperson for Grange Academy said: “Jamie's biggest strength is how he connects with people. Whether you’re a pupil in S1 or a member of staff, he is able to engage with any group and support them to the best of his ability.

“When you leave school you might not remember all the teachers you had, but everyone remembers Mr Houston. We’ve seen this first-hand many times over the years when former pupils bump into him to talk or even just a wave in the street. He is a role model to all of the school’s pupils.”

Special Recognition Award: James Hannay, North West Community Campus & Dumfries Saints RFC

43-year-old James Hannay, who taught P.E at the North West Community Campus, was described as “an absolute gentleman”.

James passed away suddenly in March earlier this year.

Dumfries Saints RFC spoke of how James, the footballer turned rugby coach, helped ‘change peoples’ lives for the better’. They said: “Jimmy has been the champion of the School of Rugby at Max High and North West Community Campus for over a decade.

“He has helped grow the game of rugby massively not just within his school but within our town and has provided so many once in a lifetime opportunities for his pupils.

“He has led the way in educating and helping our club introduce numerous community projects to help struggling families within Dumfries and this year had sponsored our Saints Hardship Kit Fund.

“Jimmy always put the needs of others before his own and has helped change so many peoples' lives for the better. We will miss his infectious laugh and attempts to pass himself off as a rugby player.”

In the Scottish Rugby’s virtual award presentation, tribute were paid to Jimmy by former pupils and Scotland’s points’ record-holder and Scottish Rugby ambassador, Chris Paterson, who was a close personal friend to James following their time studying at university.

“He was a very talented football player, but he turned his hand to rugby and helping so many people, especially young people, in the south west of Scotland.

“He was very down to earth and never wanted praise. He will be sorely missed but I have no doubt all the great work he started will continue to go on in his name.”

Watch the Glasgow South awards presentation in full below!

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