Newcastle Falcons community manager Melanie Magee praised the club’s loyal supporters after being nominated for a top prize at the All-Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards 2013.
Despite competing in the Championship this season, Newcastle’s absence from English rugby’s top table didn’t last long – the Falcons earning promotion back to the top flight for next season and the first time of asking.
Although they were not competing for Aviva Premiership silverware, the Falcons were gone but not forgotten – continuing to be a beacon of light for rugby union in the North East.
In fact, the club’s commitment to the people of the region didn’t go unnoticed with their Summer of Touch programme being shortlisted for a prestigious Community Award.
The awards ceremony will be held on June 19 at the House of Commons from applications submitted by the shareholder clubs of Premiership Rugby.
The Summer of Touch programme has been running for more than 10 years and aims to encourage more adults to take up an interest in the sport and participate in regular physical activity.
It also enables corporate clients and the local rugby community to continue to engage with rugby and Newcastle Falcons over the closed season.
Newcastle are up against Harlequins’ Inner London Player Development Programme to see who takes home the Play Award supported by Land Rover.
However, Magee insists no matter what the result the club are already a winner when it comes to their fanbase.
She said: “The Summer of Touch programme is a good way to not only get more people fit and healthy but also to encourage business to get involved with Newcastle Falcons.
“In quiet months in terms of rugby, like now in pre-season, it brings together people who don’t necessarily play the sport or know much about it but perhaps would like to.
“The North East is a big football area but we are lucky to have such a loyal fanbase with supporters and local businesses sticking with us even though we weren’t playing in the Premiership this season.
“These people get behind the club not just in terms of on the pitch but also in the community and they are the real reason why we have been able to be nominated for such a great prize.
“We are delighted to be back in the Premiership and the exposure which comes with that will help us grow even more and this is just the start we hope.”
Magee admits you do not have to look far to see what Newcastle Falcons’ secret weapon is when it comes to drumming up support from the community.
She added: “Having Dean Richards in charge has helped and made things easier because he cares so much and is so passionate about everything we do.
“He is big on the community aspect of things, not just what happens in games.
“He has been a major asset for us and the work we do within the North East.”
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