Former rugby stars prove a big hit at Howorth Air Technology

Rugby league players are used to making big hits on the pitch – now former stars of the sport are proving a big hit off the field, helping Howorth Air Technology stay ahead of the game on employee welfare.

Howorth’s partnership with the charity Rugby League Cares sees ex-players draw on their personal experiences and specialist training to deliver mental fitness and wellbeing workshops to the company’s employees.

The latest coaching session at Howorth under the charity’s Offload programme was delivered by Bob Beswick, whose league career saw him make 433 senior appearances for clubs including Wigan, Widnes and Leigh, as well as 25 international caps for Ireland.

Howorth director John Hale said teaming up with Rugby League Cares has proved to be a great match.

“The positive impact of the Offload sessions delivered to our teams flows through to productivity and the bottom line. The partnership with Rugby League Cares is one of the many building blocks that has enabled our business growth and employee engagement over recent years,” he said.

The partnership also sees Howorth staff hold events at its sites in Bolton and Salford to raise funds for the charity.

Rugby League Cares, founded 10 years ago, is an independent charity which supports players at the end of their careers by providing education and training grants to equip them with the skills and qualifications they need for the next stage of their lives. It also provides practical and financial support to current and former players who have poor health or are enduring hardship.

In the communities where rugby league is played, the Offload programme has helped tens of thousands of people in businesses and organisations to better manage their own mental wellbeing and support those around them.

Many Howorth staff are avid RL fans and the company has won several awards for its commitment to the development, wellbeing and engagement of its employees.

John said: “We have a proud culture of valuing and empowering our people, providing a safe and enjoyable place to work and enabling them to receive the technical and wellbeing support they need to develop in their jobs and thrive in their lives as a whole.

“We know from the positive feedback we’ve received that the Offload sessions are of real tangible benefit to the individuals taking part, their family circles and friendships.

“People feel that they help them to build resilience and coping strategies. They’ve been motivated and empowered to look after themselves from a mental fitness and wellbeing perspective, and that in turn has had a beneficial impact on the business and employee engagement.

“We have six Offload workshops each year, which are well-attended, and we provide monthly drop-in sessions as part of the programme too. We also help the charity by raising funds, and we open our doors to RL players who are looking to transition from their career as a professional athlete, to help them to understand business and the 9-5 life.”

Howorth, which has its headquarters in Farnworth, Bolton, and a facility at Raven Locks in Little Hulton, Salford, designs, manufactures and assembles ultra clean air equipment for use in operating theatres, and for the pharma, biotechnology and life science industries. The company, which turns over more than £20m a year, employs over 130 staff across its operations in the UK and the United States.

John was among the guests at a recent event at Speaker’s House in Westminster. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons and president of the Rugby Football League, hosted the event, which was held to showcase the work of Rugby League Cares and recognise the support of its partners.

Chris Rostron, chief executive of Rugby League Cares, said: “We were delighted that Howorth were able to join us at Speaker’s House as we celebrated both the important work the charity does in rugby league communities and the vision we share with our partners for enhancing the mental fitness of those closest to us.

“Howorth’s progressive and proactive approach to mental wellbeing is reflected in the company’s continued growth, and everyone at RL Cares is proud of the part we are playing in that success. Howorth’s managing director Jim Liptrot and his team are passionate advocates for our Offload programme and we would like to thank them for championing our work so enthusiastically within the corridors of power at Westminster.”