Daisy Hibbert-Jones named Community Coach of the Year

Daisy was one of three shortlisted from Sharks Community Trust for the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards 2022. 

The England U20s star was recognised for her off-field work, in particular working with children with Down Syndrome and special educational needs. 

Daisy Hibbert-Jones has been named Community Coach of the Year 2022 by Premiership Rugby in a ceremony held in the House of Commons.    

The Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards recognised Daisy for her off-field work with the Community Trust. The Sale Sharks Women and England U20s star has been instrumental in forging the only Down Syndrome Rugby group in the country – the Crusaders Fin Club.  

Also recognised at the awards were runners-up Merrall Stanworth, nominated for Community Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her work with veterans community group Sharks Forces, and young Freddie Dolby. 

Freddie, who has Down Syndrome, was virtually non-verbal when he joined the Crusaders Fin Club. Since undertaking sessions with Daisy and the Trust coaches however, Freddie has developed his confidence significantly, and is now an avid fan of Sale Sharks and Sale Sharks Women. 

Daisy Hibbert-Jones said: “I’ve grown up with a brother who has additional needs so for me being inclusive is something that’s really important. Having watched him not be included in things pretty much my whole life, it’s something that I’m really passionate about being the change for. 

“I’m driven by the achievements that the people participating in my sessions make. Something that we see as a small simple skill such as passing a ball or even picking up a ball – if I manage to get some of the children I work with to do that, it’s a massive achievement on my behalf. 

“I want to be the change where people don’t bat an eyelid whether someone has an addition need or not and people can join in anything, no matter their ability.” 

Alison Woodward, CEO of Sharks Community Trust said: “Daisy has long been an advocate of diversity and inclusion at Sale Sharks. For her to receive this recognition is absolutely fantastic for her and utterly deserved. She encompasses everything we value here at the Trust, and we are all so proud of her. 

“The inspiration Daisy provides is evident in the turnout of programme participants who regularly come to watch her play for Sale Sharks Women on the weekend. 

“Daisy’s key strength is facilitating inclusive and accessible rugby. She always instils a sense of security and confidence in her participants.  

“Daisy regularly sacrifices her free time to spend evenings and weekends nurturing young people into the sport. The specialist schools that we work with say Daisy’s sessions are the best thing to happen to their pupils. Many of these students have gone from being unable to follow instructions of even pick up a ball, to being able to pass, run, and kick, and have lots of fun in the process.”

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