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HITZ Northampton helping youngster reach sporting dream

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Seventeen-year-old Sharn Rowlands is one of the first year's intake onto the HITZ programme, which uses rugby to help improve the lives of 11-to-19-year-olds from challenging backgrounds who are not in education or employment.

But while HITZ is predominantly based on rugby, Sharn is finding success in powerlifting, where she is rapidly building a reputation as the best in her age group in the country.

Through a donation to HITZ Northampton, the programme was able to help Sharn travel to compete in the recent UK Championships in Ashington, Northumberland, something she would not otherwise have been able to afford to attend.

Sharn more than repaid the investment, recording no fewer than eight new British records on her way to lifting the overall trophy in her age group.

HITZ Northampton project officer Matt Goode says that he was delighted to see Sharn achieve so much in the competition, and thanked St James' County Councillor Suresh Patel, who provided the funding from his empowerment fund.

"Sharn is a very talented sportsperson who has shown repeatedly that she is one of the best young powerlifters in the country, if not Europe," he said. "However she comes from a large family and her circumstances mean that she has found it increasingly difficult to attend competitions, some of which are in other countries.

"HITZ is about helping young people, and I've been working with people within the club and local community to see how we can help Sharn achieve her dreams. The first goal was helping her get to the UK Championships, and this would not have been possible without the support of Suresh Patel, who had no hesitation in providing the funding from his councillor's empowerment fund.

"There are more competitions to come, and more funds to raise, but hopefully we can help Sharn continue her sporting journey."

Cllr Patel has been a strong advocate of HITZ Northampton since its launch, and says that he had no hesitation in backing the programme's support of Sharn.

"When we have young sportspeople who need support, I believe that we should work together to help them achieve their dream," he commented. "It is great to see that Matt and HITZ Northampton are not just limiting themselves to rugby but that they are backing talent in another sport as well.

"It was a pleasure to provide the funding for Sharn to attend the UK Championships and hopefully other companies and organisations can help her to go to European and Commonwealth competitions and demonstrate her talent on the international stage."

More information for any companies or individuals interested in providing funding for Sharn or HITZ Northampton is available by emailing [email protected]

HITZ Northampton is a programme based at Franklin's Gardens and run by Northampton Saints in partnership with Premiership Rugby, with funding from National Partners Comic Relief and Wooden Spoon and incorporating training provision from YMCA. Additional funding support comes from club partners: Travis Perkins, JP Morgan, the Wilson Foundation, the QBE Foundation and Sport England.

Comic Relief is also Premiership Rugby's official charity and Northampton Saints were fundraising for Red Nose Day 2013 at Saturday's match against Bath. Supporters can join Saints in supporting Red Nose Day 2013 by donating £5 by texting NOSE99 £5 to 70070.

You can follow HITZ Northampton on Twitter and Facebook. For more details about the HITZ Programme, go to www.hitzrugby.com