Northampton founder of football charity for grieving dads wins Pride of Britain award

The 36-year-old has been awarded for the wide-spread impact he has had on those who have lost babies or children

By Carly Odell
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 5:20 pm
Rob Allen, founder of Sands United.
Rob Allen, founder of Sands United.

A Northampton father who is the founder of a football charity for grieving dads has won a Pride of Britain award.

Rob Allen has been announced as this year’s Pride of Britain ‘special recognition’ award winner.

The 36-year-old founded Sands United, which is a network of football teams where men who have lost babies and young children can come together to grieve.

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Rob and his wife Charlotte’s third child Niamh was stillborn, days before her due date in 2017.

They were helped through their loss by the stillbirth charity Sands, but at one meeting, Rob counted 24 women and three men.

Realising that grieving dads were finding it difficult to reach out for help, he organised a charity football match to raise funds for Sands, which also gave men an opportunity to come together and talk about their loss.

The one-off game, featuring bereaved fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers, raised £6,000, but the emotional benefit for the players was even more significant.

Sands United was born, and entered a local league, but Rob’s impact has spread far wider.

Inspired by his example, there are now more than 30 Sands United teams across Britain. Each team’s kit is embroidered with the names of the babies they have lost, and hundreds of men, and their families, have been empowered to open up about their loss, and support each other through sport.

The inspirational father has now been recognised for his dedication with a prestigious Pride of Britain award.

The awards, which celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things, will be broadcast on ITV today (November 4) from 8pm.

A star-studded audience will return for the first time following the pandemic, and Carol Vorderman will be joined for the first time in the awards’ 22-year history by co-host Ashley Banjo.