Stephen Candy Photography
The black-tie gala evening on Friday 13 September at Plumpton Racecourse was organised by More Radio. The Chris Copsey Gold Award is a very special award to celebrate an individual, group or charity who really have made a difference to the lives of others.
Chris Copsey was an extremely popular Sussex radio presenter who had lived close to Haywards Heath for many years until his untimely tragic death eight years ago, so it seemed particularly appropriate that we supported this award in his memory.
Ariel Drama Academy won the award recognising their work with their special needs students. Ariel believes that drama, song and dance crosses all boundaries and knows no divisions. Ariel’s ethos has always been that the ‘Arts’ should be accessible to all; providing every child with the chance to sing, dance, act and express themselves in a fun and safe environment.
Recognising “a clear lack of drama classes for special needs children”, Ariel created their Othellos classes. Making the classes such a success is the fact that students are supported by able-bodied Ariel ‘Buddies’. These volunteers give up their own time every week and form a close bond with the students.
Othello students can have a range of needs from physical problems, such as being wheelchair bound, to conditions such as Downs Syndrome, Asperger’s and Autism.
Nicci Hopson: “I felt deeply honoured to receive this award on behalf our my [sic] students and buddies, from what started as small vision of how we could better allow these incredible performers to excel, to what we has [sic] been achieved across the whole of Sussex, feels [sic] me with such pride”.
Student Freya’s Mum, Pippa: “The change in confidence in my 11-year-old has been amazing. She has dyspraxia and other health problems including impaired vision; Ariel have not only accepted her as she is, with no fuss, but encouraged her to excel and be proud of who she is. She now has a place she can belong and I am so very grateful for the time and attention the staff have spent with Freya, and her response to this attention has been amazing – a transformation. Freya has been accepted with open arms and I feel this approach is what makes Ariel so special”.
Ariels 190 Othellos have gained distinctions in exams, performed in productions such as Oliver!, Les Miserables and Bugsy Malone as well as securing work in TV advertising for Sainsburys, BT and Lloyds Bank.