Two inspiring individuals from Harlequins will have their commitment and hard work celebrated after being nominated for prizes at this year’s HITZ Awards.
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 to celebrate the hard work put in by countless individuals up and down the country, the 2017 HITZ Awards will take place on November 21 at the BT Centre in a glittering London ceremony.
There are five gongs on offer during the evening, with members of the HITZ programme at Harlequins nominated in two categories.
The HITZ Young Achiever award, supported by BT, recognises and rewards a young person who, by overcoming a range of challenges, has worked the hardest to progress on their journey back to education, training and employment – with Harlequins’ Charlie Hobbs one of three finalists.
And Taylor Griffiths is up for the HITZ Best Rugby Performer award, supported by Land Rover, recognising a young person whose progress in the sport of rugby – on and off the pitch – and helped them overcome a range of challenges and progress back into education, training or employment.
Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Director, said: “The judges and I were mightily impressed by each of the nominees – reading them really did bring home the power of the programme to change lives, and also highlights the dedication and commitment of our HITZ teams in supporting these young people to achieve such fantastic things.
“It was very tough afternoon’s judging! In some ways it’s a good problem to have, but it does make the shortlisting process very challenging.
“However, each of our expert judges rose to the occasion, carefully considering each application and challenging each other to do a great job!
“Their commitment really reflects the invaluable input of our partners into HITZ, without whom the programme wouldn’t be possible.”
Despite being academically able, Charlie became depressed and disenfranchised with mainstream education and left school without qualifications.
He would initially avoid conversations but during the HITZ programme he finally found something he was passionate about; this helped to bring him out of his shell, achieving above 80 per cent in all his final exams and he went on to start a course in personal training at Carshalton College in September.
Meanwhile, before joining the HITZ programme Taylor had been playing colts rugby for Twickenham Rugby Club, but the loss of his father in 2013 led to problems for Taylor and eventually a criminal conviction.
Thankfully, the HITZ programme at Harlequins not only reignited his love of rugby which is a great outlet for some of these emotions, but he has also begun work as a trainee mechanic.
“The HITZ programme has really gone from strength-to-strength, which is very obvious in the quality of these nominations alone,” Wayne added.
“What struck me the most is the breadth of backgrounds and experiences of the young people on the programme, as well as the barriers they’ve overcome to participate.
“We are delighted that HITZ is having such an impact on the lives of young people right across the country.”
This year’s glittering HITZ Awards will take place at the BT Centre on Tuesday 21 November where participants, mentors and rugby stars past and present will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements. Follow all the action at @HITZRugby