Rugby player scoops national award for championing diversity and inclusion

Shaunagh Brown, with Kat Salthouse

L-R: England international, Shaunagh Brown, with Kat Salthouse who won in the diversity and inclusion category at the final of the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year awards. - Credit: Kat Salthouse

A firefighting rugby player has won a national award for her work championing diversity and inclusion.

Kat Salthouse, from East London Rugby Football Club’s Vixens ladies’ team, won the diversity and inclusion category at the national final of the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year awards.

The firefighter, who lives in Woodford and works in Stratford, received her trophy at a star-studded gala at Twickenham Stadium - the home of English rugby.

Kat with Alex Payne

Kat with TV and awards night presenter Alex Payne. - Credit: Leo Wilkinson Photography

She said: "I’m chuffed and proud to have won. It was totally unexpected. There are many others who give huge amounts of time and energy to our club and who are just as deserving.

"Rugby changed my life and I want it to have the same impact on every other person who comes through our clubhouse doors."

A women’s rugby development officer on East London RFC’s management committee, Kat was nominated by the club which is based at Memorial Park in West Ham. Her nomination was supported by Essex County Rugby Football Union.

Part of Kat's role is to develop pathways for people of all genders into the sport. Her position on the management committee has also seen the Vixens achieve parity with the men.

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And she was the driving force behind a partnership with Kings Cross Steelers RFC, which has seen the delivery of joint events introducing the game to those who may never have played before.

Her prize included a champagne reception at Twickenham where she met England international Shaunagh Brown.

She also scooped hospitality tickets for an England fixture and a promotional video for East London RFC.

Simon Crick, who chairs East London RFC, said: "This award is so well deserved because it embodies the fact that we are one club that is vibrant and growing."

The Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year is a nationwide initiative that gives people the opportunity to nominate a volunteer at a grassroots rugby club, or wider rugby family, who deserves recognition for their commitment to the game.

The 2021 awards had three categories: resilience in rugby, beyond rugby, and diversity and inclusion.

They were chosen to reflect the challenges of the past 15 months and recognise the outstanding contribution volunteers have made to their rugby clubs and wider community.