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Charity founder Jane Ashworth retires after 15-years as Chief Executive

STREETGAMES founder and CEO Jane Ashworth OBE, has announced that she will be retiring from her post at the end of the year.

Jane founded StreetGames in 2005 and has steered the organisation as it has grown to be one of the UK’s strongest ‘sport for development’ charities, supporting a network of more than 1,400 Locally Trusted Organisations to deliver sport and physical activity in disadvantaged communities across the country. Prior to co-founding StreetGames, Jane worked for Sport England for ten years, including 4 years spent in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, bringing together sport with community regeneration policy.

A passionate advocate for the right of access to sport for young people from low-income families, Jane Ashworth was an early pioneer of community-led sport and instrumental in the development of StreetGames’ ‘Doorstep Sport’ – an innovative sporting approach that addresses many of the traditional barriers to activity amongst young people living in poverty. She was awarded an OBE for services to community sport in 2011.

The charity has announced that Mark Lawrie, currently the acting CEO, will be stepping up to fill the role permanently in the new year and brings a wealth of professional experience into the position.

Starting his career as a primary school teacher in Birmingham, Mark moved into sports development in 1999, working for Reading Borough Council. He has over 20 years of experience of leadership and management in the sports and education sectors, including 10 years over two spells at StreetGames. He was the founding Chief Executive of Get Berkshire Active, the Active Partnership for Berkshire established in 2011, and rejoined StreetGames as Deputy CEO in 2013 to lead the growth of the organisation during the £20m, Sport England funded, Doorstep Sport Club programme.

Mark Lawrie, CEO of StreetGames, said:

“Jane’s vision, creativity and drive have been instrumental in building StreetGames into the charity it is today. Her relentless focus on providing access to sport and its benefits for young people from poorer families has transformed hundreds of thousands of lives. StreetGames and the organisations we support owe her an immense debt of gratitude for her service and leadership over so many years. She leaves a legacy of real achievement supporting some of the country’s most under-served communities, influencing change in the sport sector and beyond and improving the lives of countless young people.

“I’m honoured to be following in Jane’s footsteps. Stepping into this role at such a challenging time for community sport, I know that to continue to be successful, we need to build upon our strong collaborations with other organisation both within and beyond the sport sector, so that together we can meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of a post-Covid world. The past year has been a difficult time for everyone, but especially for those communities and young people that are the sole reason that StreetGames exists.

“As a young person who grew up on a council estate, playing sport filled my time outside school and has contributed enormously to shaping who I am today. As the world begins to recover and reopen, the work that StreetGames does to increase access to sport and make young people’s lives healthier, safer and more successful will be more important than ever.”

Jane Ashworth OBE said:

“When we founded StreetGames 15 years ago, none of us could have predicted where that journey would take us.

“I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved, from our Us Girls approach which supports local organisations with their engagement of young women and girls in sport and physical activity; to launching our Fit and Fed campaign to provide healthy food and activity for young people in low-income areas in the school holidays; to our work steering young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour by providing the support and role models they need to grow and to thrive.

“The impact of COVID-19 on low-income communities, who have been hit particularly hard, means that StreetGames’ work is more important now than it has ever been. We are fortunate to have such strong partnerships in place with a wealth of different funders and supporters. In particular, I would like to recognise the foundational support that has been provided by Sport England and Sport Wales through many years of National Lottery funding.

“It’s never easy leaving behind a role that has been such a large part of your life, but in my case, I’m comforted by the knowledge that StreetGames is in such safe and capable hands, with an incredible team who I know will continue to take the charity from strength to strength.”

StreetGames Chair John Cove said:

“It’s been a real privilege working alongside Jane and there is no doubt that her energy and ability have been instrumental in growing StreetGames into the organisation it is today. Her passion for giving every young person the chance to take part in sport shines through in everything she does and her efforts have made a real and lasting change to communities up and down the country. I wish her every success for the future.

These are big shoes to fill, but thankfully in Mark Lawrie, we have a Chief Executive who brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to the role. I can think of no one better to continue StreetGames’ mission of transforming the lives of young people through sport.”

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