Declan Rudd has been hailed for his commitment to supporting the Community and Education Trust’s mental health programmes after winning the club’s Community Player of the Year award last week.
Rudd has proved a real ambassador for all things mental health, by working closely with 14-year-old Joe Martin on his mental health journey, and speaking with teenager Andrea Hoctor about bullying, as part of the club’s White Christmas campaign earlier in the season.
Joe had sadly lost his father to suicide three years previously and met with Rudd at the club’s Springfields training ground last year and the two have remained in contact ever since.
Speaking about Rudd’s impact in the community, Assistant Head of Community Harriet Creighton-Levis said: “Declan has been fantastic for us out in the community on all of our programmes.
“He’s put himself in a really good light, he’s done amazing work in the education sector for us, coming onto our education programmes, using his personal experiences to help our students.
“And most importantly, as many people have seen, the work that he’s done for our mental health programme. He’s helped Joe Martin throughout his mental health struggles, using his personal experiences on the field to help Joe increase his resilience levels, his confidence levels and just overall, he’s become a really, really important part of Joe’s life.
“We’ve had many conversations throughout lockdown and they’ve just had that communication, there’s been a really nice bond between the two. It just shows that Declan really deserves this, he’s fantastic for us and for the club.”
Joe also congratulated Dec on winning the award and in a personal message to Rudd, he spoke of how he has developed as a person since they met last year.
“Congratulations on winning the Community Player of the Year award. I just wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Ever since I met you on the PNE training pitch, I feel more confident in myself and at the PNE Community. Since I met you, I’ve felt more confident in my football and I’m really looking forward to next season.
“You’ve also helped me with my anxiety, such as taking penalties. When I first met you, you let me take a penalty against you and you told me how to feel more confident in that environment. You told me how to block out noise from the audience and how you did it being a ‘keeper.
“Since, then I think I’ve developed a lot at football and in my personal life. I feel a lot less stress and a lot less anxious. Thank you for everything and enjoy a well-deserved break.”
Dec has also assisted with the Trust’s post-16 education provision this year, having visited students for a talk on their nutrition module earlier in the year, and joining a Zoom lesson during the lockdown period, to share his own experiences and advice on education.
Congratulations to Dec on the award, watch the full video explaining why he won this year’s Community Player of the Year award above!