Harry Mallinder’s tireless efforts off the pitch for Northampton Saints Foundation saw him named Gallagher Community Player of the Season on Monday evening.
While current government guidelines prevented the usual star-studded awards ceremony from taking place in London this year, the 24-year-old fullback still scooped the gong ahead of an impressive list of nominees and was instead presented with the award at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Gallagher Community Player of the Season award recognises those who have given their all off the pitch as well as on it, going the extra mile to make a difference in their local community.
And the @GallagherUK Community Player of the Season is... 🥁@SaintsRugby's @HarryMal10 🙌— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) October 12, 2020
Putting in the extra hours, meeting the people that do the hard yards behind the scenes, and always with a charming smile 👏#PremRugbyAwards schedule ➡️ https://t.co/qAuSg2wdY8 pic.twitter.com/bTdCzgl1kN
And Mallinder, who has spent much of the last 12 months on the sidelines recovering from a serious knee injury, was chosen ahead of Sam James (Sale Sharks), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby) and Jacob Umaga (Wasps) thanks to his unrelenting passion to help Northampton Saints Foundation.
“I’m very pleased to have won the award, but a little bit embarrassed too at the same time because I don’t feel like my efforts so far have been enough, and there’s still a long way to go in terms of my involvement in our Foundation,” Mallinder said.
“I really want to push the rest of the playing squad to get more involved in these programmes too when we come back in for next season.”
Mallinder has been an ambassador for Northampton Saints Foundation since January 2018, becoming a key part of the team in that time – actively supporting and promoting the charity’s work with disadvantaged young people who are not in full-time education, training or employment, or are at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
His efforts have included (but were not limited to) attending and leading student group sessions, mentoring students one-to-one, supporting Foundation volunteers, and helping the charity’s leadership team secure vital funding by participating in pitches and public speaking.
“At the start, when I got my big knee injury, meeting these kids gave me a lot of perspective,” recalled Mallinder. “The most important thing in my life at that time was my rehab, but to have something else to put my energy into was very beneficial for me and it’s a great feeling to know it might have helped some other people as well.
“What is so amazing about our Foundation is that they cover so many bases and help so many different young people within our community in Northampton and beyond – the more we can bring it on, the better for more young people.”Harry Mallinder
Catherine Deans, Managing Director at Northampton Saints Foundation, added: “We are so proud of Harry, who holds a genuine interest and passion for the work we do.
“He has become a valued and committed supporter of the work we deliver. He became more involved with us while he was injured, seeking a focus, and ever since he has always been most generous in giving his time and support. His contribution is wide-ranging and nothing is ever too much!
“Since returning to play, Harry’s contribution and effort has been constant and consistent; he is the Foundation’s biggest advocate and supporter. He has been a real gift to us, a true community champion.”