Football club founder wins Northampton's male role model of the year award

SANDS founder Robert Allen is presented the male role model of the year award by mayor of Northampton Councillor Tony Ansell, left, and Councillor Anna King, right.
SANDS founder Robert Allen is presented the male role model of the year award by mayor of Northampton Councillor Tony Ansell, left, and Councillor Anna King, right.

The founder of a football club that unites dads who have lost babies at birth, was announced as this year’s winner of Northampton’s Men’s Role Model of the Year.

The mayor of Northampton Tony Ansell and Councillor Anna King presented him with his award at the Male Role Model of the Year Awards on Saturday in the Market Square.

The award ceremony took place in Market Square.

The award ceremony took place in Market Square.

Winner Robert Allen, 32, from Northampton, set up Sands United football club this year after the loss of his baby daughter in October 2017.

The 11 a-side team is made up of men who have lost their babies and who can share their experiences in an environment they feel comfortable.

Based in Brixworth, the team trains every Sunday and competes in the Nene Sunday league.

The players have the names of their lost babies embroidered on their shirts.

On winning his award, Robert said: “I didn’t expect to win, just the nomination was enough. I am pleased to raise awareness of stillbirth.

"Men don’t get a chance to talk about their feelings but in our club problems are shared.

"Here it’s a breath of fresh air and not taboo for men to talk about their feelings.”

Northampton Borough Council launched the Male ole Model of the Year Awards this year to tie in with International Men’s Day and to recognise the contributions local men and boys make to their communities, families, schools and workplaces.

Shortlisted for the Men’s Role Model of the Year Award were Andrzej Mialkowski, founder of Step by Step dance school; Chris Elmer-Gorry, founder of Warts and All theatre company; Keith Dragon, and Lee Lewis for helping adult cancer patients.

Winner of the boys/youth award was Owen Pochin who has achieved over 190 hours of voluntary work with Northampton Street Sports, an organisation that provides multi-sports sessions for young people at risk of committing anti-social behaviour.

Shortlisted for the boys award were Matthew Oliver, an emergency services cadet; and Joseph Duffy, a budding young performer who was described as an inspiration to

“chasing your dreams.”

Councillor Anna King, cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “This is the third year that we’ve marked International Men’s Day here in Northampton.

"The Male Role Model of the Year Awards is not only a perfect way of widening these celebrations but also provides us with the perfect opportunity to recognise the many inspiring boys and men we have in the town.”