The chief executive of Super League RLFC club Widnes Vikings, James Rule, has been recognised for his commitment to changing lives through sport, at a ceremony in London.

He was honoured at the 3rd Sector Awards, which celebrate excellence in the non-profit care and support sector, and hosted by broadcaster and charity stalwart Dame Esther Rantzen.

Rule was a finalist in the ‘Making A Difference’ category in recognition of his commitment to promoting sport as a catalyst for creating social inclusion and opportunity, in a category which celebrates chief executives whose leadership has made a telling contribution to improving people’s lives.

The Vikings club and its charity arm, The Vikings Sports Foundation, received the Contribution To Sector Development Award which honours organisations that have developed innovations that have helped to shape the care sector.

It marked both the impact of the programmes the Vikings have created as well as how the club has shared its insight with senior figures in the world of health and sport.

Judges at the event said: “Widnes Vikings represent a great example of how the care sector needs to change.

“The initiatives they have developed have enabled the club to make a real difference to the lives of local people.

“They work across so many areas, from maternity and childhood obesity, through to supporting people with learning disabilities, mental health concerns and dementia.

“The organisation is the healthy heart of its local community and we are impressed by how they have been able to draw together partners for the benefit of the community, touching the lives of countless people through education, health awareness and sport.

“They are also committed to helping other organisations learn from their approaches.”

Rule said: “It was an incredible honour for the Vikings to collect the Contribution to Sector Development Award.

“As a club, we have a genuine commitment to making a difference to the lives of local people.

“Our community programmes have welcomed new supporters into the Vikings’ family, strengthened the connection people feel for their local club, and brought investment into the Vikings.

“To have the impact and innovation of our work recognised by some of the most influential figures in the care sector was a genuine privilege.”

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