Rotherham family shortlisted for national award after transforming grassroots club

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A rugby-loving Rotherham family who helped transform a grassroots club have been recognised nationally for their efforts.

Rugby-loving Leanne Ghent-Clark, 37, Andrew Clark, 40, and Jo Clark, 36 – popularly known as ‘Panda’ – have been shortlisted by the Rugby Football Union for the Honda Volunteer of the Year Awards in recognition of their efforts at Rotherham Phoenix Rugby Club.

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The trio, who have held various volunteer roles, are nominated in the Unsung Hero category which recognises local heroes who have had a major impact in their clubs and communities, and demonstrated their commitment to the game over the past 12 months.

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Leanne Ghent-Clark.Leanne Ghent-Clark.
Leanne Ghent-Clark.

Andrew said: “As humbling as it is for us to have been nominated, our achievements and growth as a club is down to our volunteer network and the sense of connection and belonging that comes from being part of a rugby family, which has been particularly important throughout the pandemic.”

Leanne, Andrew and Jo’s efforts have meant that more than 100 new mini and junior players are now playing rugby in an area with few traditional links to rugby at a grassroots level.

As well as coaching across a variety of junior age groups, they have managed to secure funding to provide the club with extra facilities and kits – and set up a strong framework for future coaches.

Leanne said: “When you walk down to our pitches, there’s a real family environment – there’s fun, there’s enjoyment, there’s smiles.”

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Andrew Clark.Andrew Clark.
Andrew Clark.

The award ceremony will take place at Twickenham in September.

Volunteers are the backbone of grassroots rugby in England. If you’d like to get involved and make a difference at your community club, visit: