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Education Futures Trust, winner of the SPARK 2016 award for special recognition.

Education Futures Trust, winner of the SPARK 2016 award for special recognition.

Achievements of young people’s groups recognised at SPARK awards ceremony

SPARK, the network for young people’s organisations in East Sussex, last week held its annual awards evening, with groups in Hastings and its environs well represented among the prize-winners. Nick Terdre reports.

The SPARK awards are made across a broad range of categories to celebrate the achievements of young people’s and children’s voluntary and community groups across East Sussex, and the dedicated staff and volunteers who work with them. The awards were presented by Bryony MacKenzie, education correspondent at BBC South East, and 18-year-old Callum Ward, chairman of the Ringmer Youth Voice Centre.

Bryony Mackenzie, co-presenter of the awards.

Bryony Mackenzie, co-presenter of the awards.

The event, held on Tuesday 10 May at the Winter Gardens in Eastbourne and sponsored by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS), was attended by some 500 guests, including SPARK’s patron, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex Peter Field, representatives of the county’s district and borough councils and individual award sponsors, including Sussex Police, Sussex Coast College Hastings and the South Downs National Park Authority.

“Our fourth SPARK Awards event provided the perfect opportunity to thank those who give so much to their local communities – very often on a voluntary basis – and to also celebrate the many impressive young people who are supported by these dedicated groups,” said SPARK’s chief executive Arwyn Thomas. “More than ever we recognise the importance of highlighting their inspiring work through these awards and this year were overwhelmed by the quality of the nominations and wide range of impressive projects.”

The award for adult volunteer of the year was shared by Jade Mitchell, centre, and Courtney Goldsmith.

The award for adult volunteer of the year was shared by Jade Mitchell, centre, and Courtney Goldsmith.

Groups in the Hastings area were well represented among the award winners. The SPARK award for special recognition was won by Education Futures Trust for their innovative educational programmes for young people in Hastings and Rye, while the sports achievement award went to Bexhill Giants Basketball Club. Jade Mitchell of Respond Academy and Courtney Goldsmith of Gizmo, both groups based in St Leonards-on-Sea, were joint winners of the adult volunteer of the year award, while Amelia Everest of Westerleigh Judokwai in Battle was senior volunteer of the year.

Amelia Everest, senior volunteer of the year.

Amelia Everest, senior volunteer of the year.

Runner-up prizes went to RSPCA Mallydams Wood in the environmental achievement category for its Hastings Wild Things project, St Leonards-based Fellowship of Saint Nicholas in health and well-being achievement for the My Time Now project, and Respond Academy in enterprise achievement for its Kneecap Media project.

Outstanding entertainment was provided by talented young performers from Respond Academy, Starfish Youth Music in Lewes and Eastbourne-based Delta 7. In the Wings Youth Theatre Company from Bexhill performed a moving rendition of Bring on Tomorrow from the musical Fame and Irish dance group Rinceoiri Ratton from Eastbourne closed the show in style.

SPARK provides a support network for more than 200 voluntary and community youth groups in Lewes, Wealden, Eastbourne, Hastings and Rother districts and is free to join. For more information visit the website or contact communications manager Lisa Coupal (, tel 07958 139633).

Winners of the SPARK 2016 awards not mentioned above

Environmental Achievement Junior Winner: The Conservators of Ashdown Forest: Ashdown Forest Education Programme; Senior Winner: Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC: The Woodland Project
Health & Wellbeing Achievement YMCA DownsLink Group: The WiSE Project
Arts & Culture Achievement Robertsbridge Uth Voice
Social Media Achievement Newhaven Young People’s Forum: Youth to Youth Website
Enterprise Achievement TechResort: TechMatch (Eastbourne)
Advice & Guidance Achievement WAVES Family Support (Seaford)
Equality & Inclusion Achievement Embrace East Sussex: Saturday Club Project (Eastbourne)
Young People-led Project Ringmer District Youth Association: Ringmer Youth Voice.


Posted 14:31 Saturday, May 21, 2016 In: Grassroots

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