Hartpury University and Hartpury College has reintroduced its Kick Start Campaign offering businesses with another chance to sponsor one of 10 sporting academies including rugby, football, netball, golf, modern pentathlon, rowing, athlete performance and equestrian.
Hartpury’s competitive men’s and women’s sports academies offer students the chance to train to a high level whilst also gaining a high-quality education (ranked 1st in the South West and 6th in the UK for Teaching Quality, according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023, and ranked number 1 mainstream English university for teaching in the NSS 2022).
In addition to competing for the University and College, students can also be selected to play for our clubs like Hartpury University RFC and Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC, Hartpury University FC, Hartpury Futsal Club and Hartpury University and Hartpury College Boat Club which compete in the relevant national governing body competitions.
Ex-Gloucester and England rugby player James Forrester, who is now head of sponsorship and business engagement at Hartpury, recently spoke to Punchline editor Mark Owen about the opportunities available to businesses and the impact sponsorship has on the various academies.
He said: "The Kick Start campaign is an opportunity for businesses both locally and nationally to engage with Hartpury. Most people have heard of Hartpury for our equine and rugby credentials. We’ve had a lot of high-profile ex-rugby players come through such as Jonny May and current world player of the year Zoe Aldcroft, who has captained England recently.
"We also have football, rowing, netball, golf, modern pentathlon and athlete performance. These athletes are some of the very best in the country.
"We’ve relaunched the Kick Start Campaign as an opportunity for businesses to engage with us, sponsor us and support these athletes. It's not only a great way to support them, but also a great corporate social responsibility (CSR) opportunity for these businesses to engage and have a mutually beneficial association with Hartpury and our great athletes.
"It can be absolutely game changing. We've seen that with the women's rugby. The budget has really improved over the last year or two and that’s massively benefited the quality we deliver, in terms of the facilities, attracting players and being able to help with our performance services such as nutrition. Raising sponsorship can have a massive impact on the quality of the programmes we can deliver to these athletes."
The sponsorship agreements offer a plethora of mutual benefits. In addition to being a powerful CSR opportunity, brands will benefit from onsite branding and signage, social media activity and invitations to events and fixtures. With around 400 events taking place at Hartpury every year, there are multiple networking opportunities and opportunities to showcase a business to an influential audience.
James, who as a product of the Gloucester Rugby Academy, first came to Hartpury as a player in 2004. He said it was "absolutely incredible" to see it now and the development and progress had been "amazing".
"If anyone would like to have a look around our outstanding facilities, I think you’d be blown away and it's all in such a beautiful setting as well."
The institute has invested over £10 million into the development of its facilities and came 3rd in the UK for Facilities at the national WhatUni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) and 1st in the UK for Lecturers and Teaching Quality.
Hartpury is a training centre for the British Rowing World Class Start and Pentathlon GB Pathway programmes, and an FA Emerging Talent Centre. Many professional sports clubs choose Hartpury to prepare for matches and competitions – including Forest Green Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Gloucester Rugby academy, Team Bath Netball and Gloucestershire Cricket.
A number of businesses also partner with Hartpury through its Sports Business Hub that provides placement and research project opportunities with students on the MSc Sports Management programme.
The Hartpury Sports Business Hub aims to provide a pathway between the Hartpury University community and sport industry partners. The activities of the Hub will be an eclectic mix of student, staff, and community collaborations. Recently, an MSc Sports Management student assisted with the EDI review for Hockey Wales and another carried out an evaluation review for Active Gloucestershire.