Former Rugby Union player Matt Dawson has been announced as President of Sparks, the children’s medical research charity. The role, expected to last a year, sees him take over from footballer David Ginola.
Chief Executive John Shanley says,“The President role is vital to our work, helping us to reach new audiences and raise vital funds for desperately underfunded children’s medical research. Both David and Matt have been fundamental in helping us to raise awareness and we are incredibly grateful for the years of support and commitment they have given and continue to give to us.
Dawson comments, “The charity has been a cause close to my heart for many years and so this seems like the perfect time for me to become President, especially in such a prominent rugby year. I hope that I will be able to help to raise awareness and get more people involved with the fantastic work that Sparks do. This year’s diary is already filling up with lots of exciting Sparks events and campaigns. I’m looking forward to visiting Sparks’ innovative research projects and spreading the word about what Sparks achieve; giving hope to more families who are affected by these conditions.”
Since retiring, Dawson has become a team captain on A Question of Sport besides appearing on various reality shows and is a commentator and presenter on BBC Radio 5 Live’s rugby programme.
Matt has been active in a number of charitable causes once posing nude in the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan in support of the testicular and prostate cancer charity Everyman. He is also an Honorary President of the rugby charity Wooden Spoon improving the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in Britain and Ireland.
Matt has been supporting the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) since 2004, and became a UNICEF UK ambassador in 2009. In June 2009 Matt took time out while broadcasting for the Lions tour in South Africa to visit UNICEF programmes focusing on education, shelter and HIV/AIDS.
Sparks is a leading children’s medical research charity dedicated to funding and championing pioneering research into a range of conditions affecting babies, children and mums-to-be. Through the research they fund, they aim to improve the quality of life for children and families affected by serious illness or disability today, whilst seeking ways to better diagnose, treat and prevent these conditions in the future. Their vision is a world where all babies are born healthy and stay healthy.