Andy was given the award last week at a ceremony in London for his work in promoting research from the Department for Health and England Rugby last spring, which was led by Professor Keith Stokes.

The benchmark study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, drew on findings from the School Injury Prevention Study (also led by the Department for Health and the Rugby Football Union from 2013 – 16) to show the dramatic effect of a newly-devised exercise programme for reducing overall injuries for youth rugby.

It found that through the 20-minute Activate exercise programme, to be performed by players before matches and in training, overall injuries fell by 72% and concussion injuries dropped by 59%. The Activate programme has since been rolled out nationwide by England Rugby.

Extensive coverage

The PR to support this new study coming out led to 242 individual items of news coverage in one day. This included 170 broadcast through the BBC – Radio 4, 5Live, World Service, Radio 1, BBC Asian Network. This included a live feature for BBC Breakfast, filmed locally at Monkton School. The story was also featured by Sky News, ITV, Talk Sport, The Times and Guardian, as well as extensive regional outlets. Combined this media coverage helped to reach an estimated audience of over 30 million people.

Professor Stokes said: “I am really pleased that all of Andy’s hard work has been recognised in this way. He provide us with great support in getting the key findings of our research out to a large audience. Over 12 months later we still get emails from the general public asking about the work and it is really helping us generate non-academic impact.”

The MJA award for the University complements the Communications team picking up last year’s CIPR PRide Award as ‘Public Sector Team of the Year’.

Delivering impact

Corinne Evans, Head of Communications, said: "We are so proud of Andy for winning this inaugural MJA Award for Excellence in PR for the University, particularly with such stiff competition from big-budget PR agencies. He thoroughly deserves the recognition. It comes only a few months after we won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide award, “Public Sector Team of the Year” for the South of England.

“We know how lucky we are to work with academics who produce such high-quality research. Both these awards show the media team is getting increasingly skilled at delivering maximum impact. Colleagues are also really helping by coming to us early with research due to be published so we can plan press releases, photos, videos and other material for the right media to reach the target audience.”

MJA chair, Lawrence McGinty said of the win: “It’s amazing that a University with such restricted resources can do better in the MJA awards than a bunch of professional agencies. Well done indeed.”