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Club favourite Eric shortlisted as Community Champion

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Leicester Tigers volunteer Eric Barker has been shortlisted for Premiership Rugby's Community Champion award, celebrating the work of unsung heroes in the game.A panel of judges has assembled a shortlist of six people who have made a positive impact in their community after initial nominations from Premiership Rugby clubs. The Premiership Rugby's Community Champion award is supported by Land Rover and acknowledges the work of those behind the scenes who make the game inclusive for all. The Award is part of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group Premiership Rugby Community Awards which take place at the House of Commons on Wednesday (June 24). Nominations include rugby supporters who have taken an active role in a grassroots club linked to a Premiership Rugby club, mentors for participants in a club’s social inclusion programme and volunteers who have shown exceptional commitment over the year. James Keegan, sport advisor at the British Council and part of the judging panel, said he was humbled to learn about the people and stories that make this year's shortlist so special. "I was delighted to be involved in the judging of the Premiership Rugby Community Champion of the Year award,” he said. "Reading the stories of each of the nominated candidates and the impact they have had on their local community through the sport of rugby was truly inspiring. "All of the nominees are already winners in terms of the effect that their work has had on young people, and this has reinforced in my mind the unique appeal of rugby in delivering real social change.”   Eric Barker, a stalwart of grassroots rugby in the Leicester Tigers region, has been nominated by the Tigers for his tireless work with the club’s community department, especially in organisation of events for young people, including the Prima Tiger Cup.   Tigers head of community Scott Clarke said: “Eric has been a regular at Tigers for more than 30 years and his knowledge, experience and understanding of the game and how it should be delivered at a grassroots level have been a constant resource within Tigers Community department, ensuring all events promote the game to the highest standards.   “Our flagship, the under-10s Prima Tiger Cup, has been Eric’s baby since its inception 20 years ago, and he also played a leading role in our tag rugby programme. He took the lead in organising and delivering the festivals and matchdays that over 10 years introduced the game of rugby to more than 60,000 primary school pupils and educated 1,000 teachers in the game of tag.   “We’re delighted that his work has been acknowledged in the Community Champion awards and know that he is a very deserving nomination.”   Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Bulkington, and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group said the impact of the professional clubs is particularly important on the game.   He added:  "I congratulate all the clubs who entered this year's Parliamentary Community Awards and look forward to meeting the finalists at the House of Commons.   “The work done by the professional clubs and their partners to grow the game should be applauded, especially in a Rugby World Cup year when the opportunity to leverage the interest in the game will be enormous.” Richard Duncan, sponsorships and partnerships manager at Land Rover UK, said they were particularly keen  to salute the unseen work behind the scenes in promoting the game. "The Community Champion Award is a fantastic acknowledgement of an outstanding individual who has worked tirelessly throughout the season to support rugby within their community,” he said.   “These Community Champions often don't receive the limelight they deserve, so it is great to have an evening where due recognition is given for their efforts in helping to drive rugby at the grassroots level. It is something that we at Land Rover place great emphasis on and value too.”