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‘Gentle giant’ George shortlisted for Premiership Rugby’s PLAY Achiever award

Bristol Bears Community Foundation is delighted to announce that Spectrum pupil, George Lambert has been shortlisted for the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary PLAY Achiever Award.

George, 17, from Warmley Park School, has a rare neurological disorder which gives rise to severe learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder, complex language difficulties and co-ordination issues. His gross and fine motor skills are both also significantly limited due to his complex medical issues and global developmental delays. He has been involved with the Community Foundation for approximately three years through engagement at Warmley Park.

With the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards taking place at the House of Commons on Wednesday, July 11th, a specially-selected panel faced the daunting task of whittling down the nominations to a final three for the prestigious gong – which rewards a participant who has excelled in any programme that introduces rugby to new audiences.

Every year hundreds of people up and down the country give their time to help run Premiership Rugby initiatives such as – but not limited to – Aviva Tackling Numbers, HITZ, Project Rugby and Move Like A Pro.

The PLAY Achiever of the Year Award recognises those who have overcome physical, cultural or social barriers to become involved in the game whilst embodying the spirit of the PLAY campaign.

And, according to judge, Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Director, the competition has never been higher.

“This was an incredible award to judge and all the entrants deserve a huge amount of praise for what they have achieved,” he said.

“The barriers every single person has had to overcome has been inspiring.

“The difference rugby has made for each and every person is phenomenal and they all absolutely deserve to be recognised.”

When George began working with the Spectrum Project in 2015, he found it difficult to remain in a group sports activity for more than 15-20 minutes and required one-to-one support to enable him to engage in a safe or appropriate way. Now, less than three years on, George is a fixed part of a Disability Rugby Academy (Project Rugby) alongside 20 of his disabled peers, attends a weekly inclusive hub in the community (Project Rugby) with his family and is a longstanding - and founding - member of the Bristol Cubs Youth wheelchair rugby team.

“We’re thrilled to see George deservedly shortlisted for the PLAY Achiever Award,” said community development manager, Craig Capel.

“I’ve been intrigued by George’s journey with the Foundation, working with no less than three different community programmes in recent times.

“The commitment that George, supported closely by his family, has shown to be involved in our game has been exceptional and I hope George and his family enjoy the afternoon at the House of Commons in recognising his achievements. 

“I’m immensely proud to see the work of the Community Foundation continue to be recognised at a national level. This is testament to the hard work of our remarkable workforce in influencing positive outcomes for every young and older person we work with. 

“Huge thanks must go to every player and staff member from the club in supporting the great variety of community programmes we deliver.

“The commitment that George, supported closely by his family, has shown to be involved in our game has been exceptional and I hope George and his family enjoy the afternoon at the House of Commons in recognising his achievements."

Craig Capel, community development manager

“The club’s head coach, Pat Lam, encourages us to work at international standards and I’m confident that we at the Foundation are contributing to his and the club’s high expectations.”

The Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards take place on Wednesday, July 11th at the House of Commons. The Community Foundation has previously won ten Parliamentary Awards since 2008.

“George has been overcoming barriers and reset expectations throughout his rugby development with us,” added Spectrum programme manager, Kris Tavender.

“He has found new ways to engage in all activities he presented with, and truly has a unique way of finding the fun in every situation.

“The best example of George’s growth and achievements is in Wheelchair Rugby. Back in October, George took six weeks to even enter a playing chair, anxious about the newness and unfamiliarity of the chairs themselves. Now, nine months on, George is a member of the Cubs team that lifted the GBWR Shield at the National Youth Tournament in Stoke Mandeville. What a journey!”

"George is a tremendous example of what the rugby family really is and is the ultimate sporting brother - forever pleased to see you, truly appreciative of all that you do for him and is always there to join you in the fun and games."

Kris Tavender, Spectrum programme manager

“He is a tremendous example of what the rugby family really is and is the ultimate sporting brother - forever pleased to see you, truly appreciative of all that you do for him and is always there to join you in the fun and games.

“An infectious personality and presence, George really is our gentle giant.”

Shortlist for PLAY Achiever of the Year award:

  • George Lambert of Bristol Bears
  • Seth Mensah – Harlequins
  • Henry Hibbert-Jones – Sale Sharks
  • Kerry Simons – Worcester Warriors

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