- Adam Padgett was named one of four Mitsubishi Motors Volunteers of the year
- Find out more about the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme here
- Real Rugby Stories brings you an inspiring grassroots story each week
When Adam Padgett first walked in to Colne & Nelson RUFC, it wasn’t as a player but as a waiter.
The 18-year-old had never picked up a rugby ball before, let alone been inside a clubhouse, but on the evening of Colne’s 80th anniversary celebrations that all changed.
“I was working serving food and drinks when one of the club coaches spotted me and said ‘have you ever played rugby’? I said no and he said I should come along to try it out, so I did," explains Padgett.
It must be mentioned at this point that Padgett stood out at the celebrations. Despite being in a room surrounded by rugby players, he was quite comfortably the biggest person there. "Rugby was the first sport I got involved in because it was the only one that really gripped me."
At six foot three and weighing over 22 stone, it is clear why the coach saw some potential. The next week he turned up for training to the surprise of everyone there.
“They didn’t think I was actually going to come,” says Padgett, who 10 years later is the club’s 1st XV vice captain, junior colts coach and as of last Friday, one of the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteers of the Year.
“As a kid I was never sporty, I just didn’t get into it. Rugby was the first sport I got involved in because it was the only one that really gripped me.”
“Looking back there was a massive gap in my life. I had just finished college and at that time I was really unfit, but rugby turned that around.”
When he first started, Padgett could only manage playing for 10 minutes before having to be taken off, but within 18 months he was playing for the 1st XV in the front row.
“I love the tactics of the scrum and lineouts. It’s like chess and whoever wins those battles will win the game so I love being part of that.”
‘On the outskirts of everywhere’
Colne and Nelson has become a second home for Padgett, as it has for many who walk through the doors of the small club dotted in between the Lancashire and Yorkshire border.
“We’re sort of on the outskirts of everywhere. It's a picturesque club, on top of a hill looking out over the hills and down to the local town. But the area is quite deprived and rugby isn’t played in schools here,” explains Padgett.
“We get teenagers coming here who are so wound up and don’t have an outlet.
“I was the same. What I try to do is give them a purpose. It is hard to grow up without having a goal or any sense of achievement. I didn’t ever strive for anything but I was too laid back to care.
“But when these kids do come and play rugby it gives them a place, it gives them a purpose and it makes them feel wanted.”
Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year
Four years after walking through the clubhouse door as a waiter, Padgett began coaching the club’s U11s having taken his Rugby Ready course.
He is now a Level Two qualified coach and is at the club five times a week, helping his junior colts team compete against some of the country’s best despite limited funds and resources.
During his nomination process for the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme, one parent wrote of him: ‘The nurturing, encouragement and support on and off the field has been incredible. Adam has given our son the self-belief that he can and does form part of the team. He has given him a sense of belonging and we can’t thank him enough’.
Despite his popularity at the club, Padgett, who works as a plastic fabricator during the week, says he was shocked when he was named one of four volunteers of the year.
“What meant the most to me was seeing how proud other people were of me. We don’t win things like this at our club so to come away with the award was a really big deal for them.”
Congratulations to Adam Padgett aka Padge who last night won the "RFU Mitsubishi Lancashire Volunteer of the year" award down at Twickenham. pic.twitter.com/VIfT6FlGkv— Colne & Nelson RUFC (@ColneNelsonRUFC) September 16, 2017
Michael Padgett will once again be jogging out for the 1st XV this weekend and will be taking his junior colts to an away game the following day.
And he was something else to look forward to. The club's 90th anniversary celebrations this year, 10 years on from when he first walked through the doors at the 80th year event.
“Maybe I’ll try and recruit another waiter,” he says. The work never stops for a volunteer dedicated to rugby and his local community.
Adam Padgett was one of four Mitsubishi Motors Volunteers of the Year alongside David Taylor, Jane Waterhouse and De'Shaun Elliot. Keep an eye out on EnglandRugby.com for further features on the rest of the winners.