Northampton man responsible for nationwide football teams for grieving dads honoured with Prime Minister’s award
The Points of Light Award recognises outstanding individuals making a difference to their communities
A Northampton father who founded a football team encouraging men who have lost babies or children to come together and share their grief has today (June 11) received the Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light award.
Rob Allen and his wife Charlotte lost their baby daughter Niamh at 39 weeks in 2017.
To help ensure Niamh’s legacy lived on, Rob organised a football match with Northampton Town FC in 2018 to fundraise for Sands UK, the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity which provides support to anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.
Following the success of this match, Rob was inspired to set up a club - Sands United FC - for other bereaved fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and other people affected by baby loss to come together through a shared love of sport and find a support network where they can feel at ease talking about their grief when they are ready.
There are now more than 30 Sands United teams and Rob has now been awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award ahead of the start of the 2020 UEFA European Championship.
In a letter to Rob, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I want to thank you for everything you are doing through ‘Sands United FC’ to support men who have experienced the tragedy of baby loss.
“I am full of admiration for the strength you and Charlotte have shown since losing Niamh. “The way in which you are helping others is a wonderful tribute to her.
“With over thirty teams now across the UK, you have created a space for thousands of bereaved men to look after their physical and mental wellbeing together.
“As Euro 2020 finally begins and this great tournament returns to our shores for the first time in a quarter of a century, I wish you and your team mates a fantastic summer of football.”
Rob is the 1,656th person to receive the Prime Minister’s UK daily Points of Light award, which was first launched in April 2014 to recognise outstanding individuals making a difference where they live.
Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements, including hundreds of volunteers who have been recognised for how they have served their communities through the pandemic.
Rob said: “I’m honoured to accept this Points of Light award and to be recognised by the Prime Minister for the support Sands United FC has provided to bereaved men and their families affected by pregnancy and baby loss.
“This award really is for all of the dads, grandads, brothers, uncles and all the team members and supporters who have put so much time, effort and passion into building Sands United FC teams across the UK since our first Northampton team was set up in 2018 in memory of our baby daughter Niamh.
“I know myself how hard some men can find it to talk about how they’re feeling after the death of a baby.
“I hope that by building trust and a common bond, by playing together as a team, many more will be able to break their silence about baby loss and help others to do the same.
“As Patron of Sands United my dream is for there to be a Sands United team in every corner of the UK.”
Visit the Sands United FC website to find out more about.