Bath Rugby Foundation Volunteer Graham Binns has seen his hard work and dedication to the club’s HITZ programme recognised by winning the 2021 HITZ Champion Award, supported by CVC.

Binns was one of three nominees in the category, which recognises the efforts of those who support young people within their community.

Lynne Fernquest, Chief Executive at Bath Rugby Foundation said:

“The support that Graham provides is invaluable and we are so proud that his hard work and dedication has been recognised with this award. He genuinely cares and wants to help the young people on HITZ learn to overcome the barriers they face so they can progress in life. Graham turns up week after week to provide his time and experience for free to help these young people and I know he gets as much out of being part of HITZ as we do having him in our team.”

Also shortlisted were Robin Powell from Bristol Bears and Jack Fleckney from Northampton Saints, though it was Binns who was picked to win the award. Jane Howard, CVC Marketing and CSR Manager, said his longevity in volunteering was a factor in why he was chosen as the overall winner.

She said: “It was the tenure he’s been working with HITZ, and the different strands that he has been supporting on the programme which saw him win. For years he’s been helping young people get into work, supporting them through educational activities and mentoring them.”

Originally from Wales the retired mortgage department manager at a major bank dedicates his time to supporting young people through Bath’s HITZ programme. Universally popular with those who are a part of the scheme, Binns was inspired to get involved after losing contact with his own children following his divorce. He originally started by helping students with reading and writing, but overtime took a more significant mentoring role.

Graham builds a unique rapport with the students by getting involved on their level which has seen him climb the SAS mountain Pen-Y-Fan with those he mentors. He provides CV and interview advice, encouraging greater confidence in participants and instilling a belief that they can achieve their goals. Coupled with this is Graham’s ability to see when students may be struggling, taking them aside to listen, coach and help them make a plan to overcome their biggest hurdles.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship employability and education programme, supporting young people to make positive changes in their life. Working with more than 2,000 14-23 year-olds across England every year, the programme uses rugby’s core values to develop the personal, life and employability skills of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).  Supported by the CVC Foundation and Wooden Spoon, and delivered with official education partner SCL Education Group, HITZ is delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby’s 13 shareholder clubs and has supported nearly 20,000 young people since it started in 2008.