ART OF THE TITLE
FAIRTRADE SPORTS BALL CAMPAIGNER RECEIVES COVETED BRITISH CITIZEN AWARD
Sharron Hardwick, from Stoke On Trent, currently living in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire is a selfless campaigner who has single-handedly raised awareness of Fairtrade sports balls throughout Staffordshire and Pembrokeshire specifically, but also throughout the UK via social media. Sharron has now been recognised with a national award for her International Achievement.
Sharron has self-funded the Fairtrade in Football Campaign and has been successful in applying for several grants from Hub Cymru Africa, funded by the Welsh Government. These funds are used to purchase Fairtrade football and rugby balls, which she provides to schools and clubs, whilst giving talks to spread the word that using these ethical Fairtrade balls makes a real difference to workers, in lesser developed countries. In doing so, she is creating a significant impact on the lives of sports ball workers in India and Pakistan, through the fair working conditions and wages and extra Fairtrade Premium paid directly to workers through Premium Committees. The Fairtrade Premium is invested democratically in a range of social development projects, meaning that not only are workers paid fairly and working in safe conditions, but they are also empowered and have autonomy over the development of their own communities.
Sharron works voluntarily for this cause that she is passionate about, maintaining a presence daily on social media, and achieving media coverage for her work. She has engaged with Stoke City and other league football clubs and the Wales Rugby Union, to further educate sports clubs.
The biggest impact Sharron has made is to get safer working conditions, fair rates of pay and an extra 10% Fairtrade Premium paid per Fairtrade ball made. This extra cash is invested in workers’ benefits such as free eye and diabetes tests, free school books and backpacks for workers children and free transport to and from work for rural workers.
It’s actually not just workers at the factories and stitching centres who benefit from Fairtrade. Both the factories Bala Sport works with have water purification plants funded in part by the Fairtrade Premium. The beauty of these facilities is that they are outside the factory gates and are there for anyone in the local area to use and fill up a container of free, safe, clean drinking water. It is easy to take safe drinking water on tap for granted, but for the people in Sialkot these facilities are a great help.
The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.
Sharron is one of 29 medalists who was honoured at a prestigious ceremony on Thursday July 5th, at the Palace of Westminster. All BCA recipients have selflessly undertaken various activities in support of a number of worthy causes. Each received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medalists are also able to use the initials BCA after their name.
Speaking about her nomination, Sharron said: ““I feel totally honoured to receive the British Citizen’s Award, it hasn’t really sunk in yet! When you love football and Fairtrade and want to see people getting a fairer deal it’s like a dream come true being involved in my Fair Trade In Football Campaign activities - then to be honoured for this work in such a special way is amazing! I am just an ordinary person trying to make a difference by supporting local and sports ball stitching communities. I do not do this alone, those who have joined me, including Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire schools, especially Tavernspite County Primary School, Hub Cymru Africa, Fair Trade Wales, Fairtrade Action Stoke On Trent, Sean Ruane and Engage Communities are the reason my activities continue to grow. Special thanks must go to Colin Burgess and Ben Gibson from Stoke City FC, Stoke City Community Trust, Prem Management and Alan Christian, they are the ones who help take my campaign to the next level. This award is dedicated to those who work hard stitching our sports balls and to the hope that one day they will get the fair deal they so deserve.”
British Citizen Award Patron, Dame Mary Perkins said: “Giving back to our communities is at the heart of Specsavers' vision and values, so we are delighted to support this inspirational awards programme. Each medal recipient has demonstrated a commitment to others that makes them the unsung heroes of our country and they thoroughly deserve to have a light shone on their selfless endeavours”.
The awards are sponsored by the world’s largest optical retailer, Specsavers; one of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, Places for People; and worldwide leader in IT and networking, Cisco. Each had representatives at the medal presentation ceremony which was hosted by TV Presenter and host, Michael Underwood who stated: “Having presented the very first British Citizen Awards, it was a real honour to be invited back and a privilege to meet the incredible people being recognised for their contribution to society”.
Dates of issue: 05.07.18
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Notes to Editors
The British Citizen Award recognises individuals that positively impact others and highlights the positive aspects of multi-cultural communities, workplaces, community groups and charities throughout the UK. It is accessible to all and serves to celebrate the good things that make Britain great.
There is no fee for making a nomination. Nominees who are granted a BCA will be invited to attend the Presentation Day at the Palace of Westminster. Presentations are held twice annually in January and July.
The full list of categories for the British Citizen Awards are:
BCAc for Service to Community
BCAi for Service to Industry
BCAa for Service to Arts
BCAe for Services to Education
BCAh for services to Healthcare
BCAb for Service to Business
BCAv for Volunteering & Charitable Giving
BCAo for International Achievement