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29 Feb 2024 | 0:00

Former England footballer Frank Lampard hailed sports groups and charities as “a priceless resource in our communities” after watching Sport for Development Coalition partners contribute to the prestigious Sport Gives Back Awards in London.

Lampard was speaking after he and his wife Christine presented Joe Donnelly from the Belfast-based charity TAMHI with the Community Sport Social Impact Award during the ceremony at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. Joe, who founded TAHMI (Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues) in 2011 following the death of a close friend by suicide, was nominated for the award by leading Coalition network Sported.


Lampard said: “Football means so much to all of us but it’s even more powerful when it’s used in a positive way to give back. Community sports groups are such a priceless resource in our communities to open the door to better life chances for our young people. Seeing what Joe and his team at TAMHI have accomplished underlines why they deserve recognition and our support.”

With a community focus that aims to educate, encourage learning and tackles the root of problems, TAMHI uses sport as a conduit to grow the mental health resilience of young people in Northern Ireland including the development of the Mental Wealth Games, a toolkit which has attracted plaudits from elsewhere in the UK which incorporates football and other games.

Frank Lampard presents award

Sarah Kaye, CEO of Sported, commented: “TAMHI is the model of a small charity doing big things while transforming, and saving lives. It’s so vital that our next generation have these safe spaces where sport allows them to open up and be supported in a way that makes them more resilient and ready for life’s challenges. 

“Community organisations like these deserve more support. They can often be overlooked amid a focus on participation or high performance. But the impact made by Joe and his team makes them the very best of investments.”


Joe was pleased at the recognition of the charity’s work. He said: “Through the positive impact on young people we work with, they can then create change in others to make sure we contribute to a better society. But it needs more support to make sure community sport organisations like ours can continue to transform lives, particularly in Northern Ireland and in dealing with the unique challenges in our communities.”

The Sport Gives Back Awards will be broadcast on ITV on Sunday 24th March, with the following Coalition partners also contributing:

  • Dallaglio RugbyWorks chose Dan Ley as the winner of its Transforming Lives: Empowering Excluded Youth award. Having been expelled from school on numerous occasions as a teenager, he turned his life around and now mentors young people in south Wales through the medium of rugby. Dan’s award was presented by charity founder Lawrence Dallaglio.
  • Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s Community Partnership Impact Award went to Team Sheffield. This group of athlete mentors works alongside Westfield Health and 12 schools to work with young people facing personal challenges, helping them achieve their aspirations. Dame Kelly herself was on hand to present the award on behalf of her charity.
  • Greenhouse Sports honoured Sarah Bonnell School in east London with its Team for Life Award. Located in one of the most deprived areas of the capital, the school has worked with the charity on a tennis programme since the pandemic; this has increased the confidence, teamwork and resilience of its pupils. The award was presented by Paralympian gold medallist Ellie Simmonds and international netball star Ama Agbeze.
  • Lord’s Taverners’ Inspire Award went to Connor Hyde. Connor has overcome his own challenges with cerebral palsy and epilepsy to work with the charity’s Somerset Super 1s disability cricket project. He now runs some of the sessions, coaches at his local cricket club, and is a personal trainer. Connor received his award from international cricketer Chris Woakes.
  • SportWorks’ Community Group of the Year award went to The Elfrida Society in Islington, north London. The group, which has been at the heart of its community for over 100 years, has a long history of supporting people with learning disabilities and autism. Its sporting activities include tennis, studio fitness and football. The award was presented by TV sports presenters Ed Chamberlin and Jill Douglas.
  • Youth Sport Trust selected Jill Newbolt from Sheffield to win its Building Brighter Futures award. Jill has dedicated her career to breaking down the barriers that society places on children with disabilities in sports and physical education, particularly those with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Olympians Sir Mo Farah and Fatima Whitbread presented Jill with her award.

Sponsored by The Co-operative Bank, Sport Gives Back was founded by former international athlete Connie Henry MBE who set up the awards to “celebrate those who use sport for social change”. She said: “Sport changed my life as a teenager. It gave me the stability, focus and opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had. When I retired from athletics, I set up Track Academy, a charity which supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in north London, where I grew up myself. Over the last 15 years, we have helped hundreds of students to succeed both on and off the track.”

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