Central YMCA learner wins at Premiership Rugby HITZ Awards 2023

29 November 2023

We are proud to be the official education provider for Premiership Rugby’s award-winning HITZ programme, and we love celebrating the achievements of our learners. Today, we’re celebrating one of our learners, Skye from Northampton Saints Foundation, who was recently presented with the Academic Achievement Award, one of the top awards at the HITZ Awards 2023 ceremony! 

Premiership Rugby held the awards at Twickenham Stadium, hosted by Topsy Ojo and attended by Premiership players, including Harlequins winger Cadan Murley, Saracens prop Ollie Hoskins, and Northampton Saints prop Emmanuel Iyogun.


Skye was rewarded for her can-do attitude at HITZ despite her heartbreaking story, having faced significant challenges from birth including a disrupted home life and entering the care system at just 12 years old. Arriving at HITZ in September 2022, her eagerness to learn was quickly recognised, motivating Skye to gain qualifications after previous struggles with mainstream schooling. Although she found forming positive relationships with peers difficult, Skye felt HITZ was the first programme not to give up on her, breaking a cycle of instability that has proven life changing. Her renewed sense of purpose has seen Skye become persistent in achieving academic success, whilst forming positive relationships with both HITZ staff and her peers.  

The HITZ family have been truly inspired by Skye’s determination along her journey of adversity and admire the commitment she displays to her educational and personal development.  

Skye said of her award win, “Winning this award is the best thing ever because the last year has been hard, especially the last month, so winning this award has made my year. I will feel amazing going into HITZ now after winning this.” 


And Skye wasn’t the only one from Northampton Saints to come away with an award! Education Officer Shirley Lynch was presented with the Champion Award. 

Shirley’s dedication to education, career development, and the wellbeing of learners was recognised at this year’s HITZ Awards. Being described as “the heart of Northampton Saints Foundation,” the unwavering support Shirley continues to provide learners, has directly contributed to Northampton Saints Foundation being one of the top foundations delivering HITZ nationally. After leaving home at 15, Shirley has used her personal experience to connect with young people and bridge the support gap often lacking at home.  

She has a unique ability to work with young people of a similar background, utilising her journey to give meaningful guidance in a supportive environment whereby learners feel a sense of purpose and belonging, creating a safe space to thrive and grow.  

After receiving her award Shirley said, “I’m absolutely honored to win this award. It was an honor to be shortlisted so for me it wasn’t about winning. This means so much that’s why I keep crying, I started helping at HITZ eight years ago as a volunteer and wanted to stay on because HITZ is a programme that works.” 


On the evening’s wins, Wayne Morris, Community & CSR Director at Premiership Rugby said: “Congratulations to Skye and Shirley on their much-deserved award wins and indeed to all those shortlisted in this season’s HITZ Awards. Over the last 15 years, the success rate of the programme speaks for itself; HITZ has helped over 80% of the learners move on positively. The HITZ Awards are an annual celebration of just how much rugby can change lives with the help of people like Shirley and the difference HITZ makes to young people like Skye. Everyone involved in the programme should feel proud of the impact that they have made, we are delighted for Northampton Saints on their double award win here tonight.” 


Well done to Skye and all of the other winners at the HITZ Awards 2023! Are you interested in learning more about the HITZ programme? Click here to read more about the benefits that span multiple areas, including education, physical health, mental health, and employability.