Lance Haggith, a local community figure and entrepreneur who has set up a chain of charity sports shops to ensure all children have the opportunity to take part in sports, is the latest winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award. Lance set up his first Sports Traider store in Bedford selling a mixture of new and high-quality second-hand sports clothing and equipment at affordable prices, as well as giving thousands of pieces free to locally disadvantaged youngsters where the shops are located.This means all children can afford to take part in sports, and all the money raised from sales is channelled back into local grass-roots sports for children and young people.
This has helped to fund sports coaching, access to facilities such as sports clubs and gyms, and even the transport required to get talented but disadvantaged aspiring athletes to training. The concept of a discount sports store set-out and run like a mainstream store is so popular Lance has opened two further stores in Leicester and Luton and will shortly open the newest store in The Harlequin in Watford, followed by a number of shopping centres nationwide in the next year. All of these are supported by stock donations from local schools and businesses, while encouraging sports companies to recycle old stock by donating it to the cause therefore significantly reducing the pressure on landfill.
As well as benefitting the sporting community, Lance has ensured they support the whole community by offering work experience to the disabled, young people, the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged groups, and ex-offenders in the stores. So far over 2,000 days of work experience have been provided and Lance’s contribution to the community was recognised last year when he was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award for his work.
Congratulating Lance Haggith on the award, the Prime Minister said: Lance’s approach to helping his local community is inspiring. He didn’t just stop at coaching children, or setting up a shop to support local youth sports, he took this even further to offer work experience to the long-term unemployed and ex-offenders who can struggle to get this experience. This is an impressive example of the Big Society and Lance’s contributed has clearly been recognised by his staff and the local community who nominated Lance for this award. I hope that he is able to continue to bring his unique shops to more towns and give even more young people the opportunity to get involved in sports. Accepting the award, Lance Haggith said: I’m really passionate about the value that sports brings to society, and believe that the Sports Traider model provides a sustainable way to get the disadvantaged in the community involved in sport by breaking down barriers at a grass-roots level. I’m really honoured to accept the award and hope that it will lead to tangible support and increased awareness in rolling-out the Sports Traider model across the UK as there is a need in every town.