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Seeing people of all ages and backgrounds become the best version of themselves through the power of sport is what drives Hannah Bladen and the Ignite Sport UK team.
Hannah joined Ignite as general manager in 2017 after more than 20 years in the sports sector working for two local authorities and Sport England. After two-decades in sport, her passion for helping people progress and develop practical skills is stronger than ever.
She is a familiar face in schools across Oxfordshire supporting apprenticeship delivery and physical education and school sport opportunities. She also works with partners such as local authorities and charities to enable more people to enjoy being active in the county.
“My passion for sport was established during my education,” said Hannah. “People – and sports coaches – have the power to really make a difference and sport is no
exception to this.
“The biggest motivation for me is seeing people succeed, that includes colleagues at Ignite, coaches, participants, apprentices, pupils – everyone. When I see an apprentice progress well, hear positive feedback from a head teacher concerning an apprentice or see Velocity Football students develop it is great.
“All of those examples are reasons why sport can bring out the best in every person and help them to reach their full potential.”
Career in sport
After graduating from De Montford University (Bedford) with a degree in Sports-Science, Hannah combined the beginning of her career in the sport sector with her passion for hockey.
She represented her county and northern teams at U18s and U21s level and played for clubs including Hightown, St Ives, Bedford, Bedford College and Milton Keynes.
Hannah has also completed three London Marathons and many long-distance power walks at Ultramarathon distances.
She added: “I can relate my hockey days to what we do as a business at Ignite Sport UK. Hockey was where I found my confidence, my friends and my social circle.
“I learnt about winning, losing, teamwork, discipline and giving every ounce of energy you’ve got. Today, I see those traits in the people we work with. We’re very lucky to work with passionate people who are bright, bubbly and have bags of energy.”
Hannah’s commitment to our sports-based apprenticeships is aligned with her dedication to our adult education programme delivery. She supports Velocity Football students and Ignite Sport UK staff in the delivery of holiday camps, plus junior and youth football sessions.
She said: “If apprenticeships or vocational qualifications were available on a wider scale like they are now when I was younger, I would’ve without question gone down that route.
“I’m a practical person, and that’s possibly why I’m so passionate about apprenticeships and vocational routes. To be able to learn on the job in real life, practical, situations and get paid for it is a great opportunity for anyone.
“The beauty of working in this industry is that you work with a broad range of people from different backgrounds who all share a common passion and interest for sport.
“We’re very fortunate at Ignite Sport UK to work in a range of sectors from training and coaching to education and wellbeing.
“All elements fall under our umbrella of delivery which aims to inspire people through sport and create a sense of achievement for participants of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
“My time at Ignite Sport UK has helped me understand people who work hard can achieve great things. Each day is a new challenge and the work we deliver in Oxfordshire matches my passion for sport and its ability to change lives.”
This week, Ignite Sport UK apprentice George James will attend the virtual 2021 Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards. George is nominated for two awards – the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year and Special Recognition Award categories.
Hannah is up for an award too as one of three finalists in the Apprenticeship Champion Award. It is a category that recognises people who have gone the extra mile to
promote apprenticeships amid the pandemic.