Aspire is delighted to announce that it has taken the top prize in the Disability category at this year’s Charity Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious awards scheme in the charity sector.

The spinal injury charity won for its InstructAbility Programme, which enables disabled people to become fitness professionals and promote equality and inclusion across the leisure sector.

InstructAbility Manager Hilary Farmiloe and Aspire CEO Brian Carlin

There are 11 million disabled people in the UK and less than 8 per cent are estimated to be achieving the recommended levels of physical activity.

Aspire works with YMCAfit and hundreds of leisure operators to create more disabled role models working in the fitness industry.

The scheme, funded by Sport England, has resulted in 300 disabled people qualifying as fitness professionals who have contributed over 40,000 hours of voluntary service to provide over 60,000 sessions to support disabled clients.

Over half have now been offered employment, and 80 per cent of the leisure centres which participated reported a positive impact.

Aspire was presented with the award at a black-tie ceremony at the Pavilion at the Tower of London on Thursday 8 June, hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin.

Awards were also given to eight other category winners, the winner of the Overall Award for Excellence, and the recipient of the Daniel Phelan Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Julian Chislett, chief executive of Civil Society Media, which organises the Charity Awards, congratulated Aspire. He said:

“We had a record number of entries this year, and the standard was particularly high, so Aspire should be very proud to have won their category. Their work delivers great results.

“For 18 years the Charity Awards have been identifying and celebrating the fantastic work that UK charities do, and the rigorous judging process ensures that only the very best charities win awards.”

John Low, chief executive of Charities Aid Foundation, overall partner of the Charity Awards, said:

“The Charity Awards celebrate the inspiring work of people who make the world a better place.

“Recognising the remarkable work and impact of charities is an important aspect of preserving and building on Britain’s proud culture of generosity and civil action.

“The organisations we celebrate at these awards lead by their example in showing bravery and dynamism at a time when demand on charities is growing, society is becoming more divided and resources are becoming increasingly stretched.

“These are all inspirational examples of the amazing work done by charities in communities all over the UK and across the world. Our congratulations go out to all of them.”

Brian Carlin, chief executive of Aspire, said:

“I wish to thank everyone who has contributed to the creation and success of the InstructAbility programme and especially Hilary Farmiloe who has been leading this work for the past five years, and with her team, has achieved so much.  But most importantly, to all the InstructAbility graduates who are such wonderful ambassadors for inclusion in the fitness industry.”

Anyone interested in the programme can find out more at

The Shortlist and Winners 2017

OVERALL WINNER: The Clink Charity



Arts, culture and heritage

WINNER: Create 

Highly Commended: Penny Appeal

Highly Commended: Rhythmix

Campaigning and advocacy

WINNER: National AIDS Trust

Highly Commended: Hope for Justice

Highly Commended: Action on Hearing Loss

Children and youth

WINNER: Lullaby Trust

Highly Commended: Leap Confronting Conflict

Highly Commended: The Wave Project


WINNER: Aspire

Highly Commended: Auditory Verbal

Highly Commended: Royal Mencap Society

Education and training

WINNER: The Clink Charity

Highly Commended: The Economist Educational Foundation

Highly Commended: RBLI

Environment and conservation

WINNER: FareShare

Highly Commended: ClientEarth

Highly Commended: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Grantmaking and funding

WINNER: East End Community Foundation

Highly Commended: Cumbria Community Foundation

Highly Commended: The Rank Foundation

Healthcare and medical research

WINNER: Prospect Hospice

Highly Commended: Project Futures

Highly Commended: Wales Air Ambulance Charity

International aid and development

WINNER: Pump Aid

Highly Commended: Hand in Hand International

Highly Commended: Islamic Relief Worldwide

Social care and welfare

WINNER: Smart Works

Highly Commended:  Contact the Elderly

Highly Commended: Safer Places


For more information about the Charity Awards 2017, including contacts at the shortlisted charities, please contact:

[email protected]