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Home > News > Firefighter and teacher win rugby heroes award
Your News Firefighter and teacher win rugby heroes award

MERSEYSIDE Fire & Rescue Service has developed close links with rugby union in Liverpool in recent years and there will be special delight in both camps to see one of their number collecting an award as one of the inaugural Daily Mail RBS Real Rugby Heroes 2011 Winners.

Gary Bennett works for MFRS, who have done some excellent work with the RFU over the last few years in a partnership scheme whereby firefighters qualified as tag rugby coaches and volunteered to deliver sessions in schools.

He quickly established himself as a very talented and committed coach and extended his involvement with rugby union by volunteering his services at Liverpool St Helens in addition to continuing his work in schools. Over the last two years he has qualified as a Level 1 coach and is currently mid way through his Level 2. He has also qualified as an Entry Level Referee and regularly gives up his free time to officiate at schools festivals in the North West.

In addition to all this, he still finds time to assist with coaching the girls at LSH and was this season appointed Lancashire Girls U15s coach.

A full-time firefighter and as well as having a young family, he still finds the time on his days off to deliver rugby coaching sessions in a number of local schools in St Helens and Knowsley.

He also volunteers to assist with refereeing at all the Mersyside Schools Rugby Festivals including Emerging Schools and Festivals for Children with Mild and Severe Learning Difficulties and YAZOO Tag to Twickenham, in conjunction with Child Victims of Crime.

St Helens Community Rugby Coach John Foster, who nominated Gary for the award, said: “I was absolutely delighted to hear that Gary had won this award, not just because of his commitment to developing the game of rugby union here in the North West, but also because he is an excellent role model for the players.

“It is especially fitting that Gary has won this award because he never seeks out praise or recognition for his efforts....the guy is a legend!

“When I spoke to Gary he was delighted and shocked to hear the news. He said: ‘Just seeing how much the kids enjoy their rugby is a reward in itself - but it’s a real honour to be recognised in this way".

LSH Chairman John Bithell said: "Gary is one of a whole army of unsung heroes at Liverpool St Helens and he really is an exceptional individual who fully deserves this award. We are all absolutely delighted for him".

Another Northern winner was Steve Mullins, who has been a teacher at Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham since 1980 and throughout his 31 years, has developed a highly competitive fixture list played by four teams each Saturday.

Through his love and passion for the game, he has encouraged thousands of young people to take up the sport and has helped develop many talented rugby coaches, including Ian Douglas, Assistant Coach for North of England U18 XV.

As well as being Chairman of Northumberland Rugby Schools Union, he is also involved with county coaching, as well as being a junior coach at Tynedale RFC.

Over 60 entries were received for the campaign and it was down to a select panel of judges to narrow it down to 10 winners.

The panel charged with making that tough decision was made up of representatives from the Daily Mail, Royal Bank of Scotland, the England Rugby Football School’s Union and the Rugby Football Union.

The lucky 10 are selected from far and wide, from Northumberland to Surrey, Merseyside to Cambridge and included two parents, five teachers, one student and a club coaching co-ordinator.

All the winners received a pair of tickets for Twickenham, as well as a VIP invitation to the Daily Mail RBS Schools Day on Wednesday 6 April where they will be presented with their certificates.

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