Lawrence Howard, founder of Lancashire’s first all-inclusive rugby team, has been recognised as an unsung sporting hero through a national community campaign run by SPAR.

Now in its second year, SPAR’s People’s Podium received more than 4,000 nominations from across the UK, in a campaign designed to support and celebrate community sport, awarding one grand prize of £10,000 and four runners-up prizes of £2,000.

Howard, who lives in Preston, set up Typhoons RUFC in 2018 with the aim of creating an adult rugby team that was all-inclusive, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, race, creed, disability or sexuality.

Nominated by team member, Kris Midgley, Howard had no idea that he had been selected as a finalist and was surprised by TV presenter Andi Peters and representatives from SPAR at Preston Grasshoppers.

Howard was presented with a cheque for £10,000, celebrating his contribution to community sport alongside delighted team members.

“It’s become obvious that inclusive clubs can be in every community and not limited to big cities,” said Howard (above).

“What we’ve seen tonight is a perfect example of how an inclusive rugby club can inspire people from all backgrounds to take up the game.

“It’s such an honour to even be nominated, just to know you’ve had an impact on someone’s life. This money will go towards helping us grow the club, providing funds for training equipment and travel to tournaments.”

In only 18 months, Typhoons RUFC has become one of the fastest growing adult clubs in the North West and in May 2019 the club’s committee was recognised by the RFU for their outstanding contribution to volunteering within the community.

Now with official RFU accreditation and more than 60 members, Typhoons RUFC regularly supports community events and festivals.

This content was originally published here.