Lawrence Howard - Founder of the Typhoons RUFC

Building on the popular success of its 2018 campaign, SPAR’s People’s Podium invited people from across the nation to nominate their local sporting heroes who had a positive impact on their community, and be in with a chance to receive £10,000 to support their local sporting initiatives.

A very big congratulations to Lawrence Howard, the grand prize winner of SPAR People’s Podium 2019 and this year’s Hero Next Door!

Lawrence formed the Typhoons as a team that embraces everyone, regardless of their sex, gender identity, race, creed or ability. They offer a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ members to get involved in rugby — something many of them thought they would never do. Other members had fallen out of love with sport and have re-engaged thanks to the low-pressure, community-focussed ethos of the club. In Lawrence’s own words, “People are now seeing rugby and thinking ‘you know what? This is something I could give a try’.”

Getting people into sport isn’t the only way Lawrence has helped the squad’s members. Many of the team have gone through tough times, facing problems like unemployment, addiction and homelessness. They have been cared for by the club, and guided into the right support programmes to get them back on their feet.

Outside of the squad, they have captured the heart of the community, fundraising at local festivals and Pride events across the county. The Typhoons have done so much in fact, that in May 2019, the committee were recognised by the RFU for their outstanding contribution to volunteering and in July 2019, the Typhoons gained official RFU accreditation.

The team say none of this would have been possible without Lawrence’s perseverance, tenacity or his infectious enthusiasm. That’s why we’re proud to name Lawrence and the Typhoons as the winners of SPAR People’s Podium 2019, and award them £10,000 to take the club to the next level.