The Argus Achievement Awards 2012: Preview

By Henry Willis

The Argus Achievement Awards has always been a chance to give thanks to the unsung heroes in the community in appreciation of those whose work goes unrecognised.

Anyone who thinks they have been inspired by an individual, school or other organisation is each year encouraged to nominate them under one of a number of categories.

Nominations are now concluded as the event prepares for its 11th year of awards at the Theatre Royal on Sunday, October 28th.

Categories span across a broad range of subjects, from Teacher of the Year Contribution to Sussex Sport, with so much more in between.

One of the most poignant categories is the Outstanding Contribution to Sussex award. Among those nominated are celebrated singer Dame Vera Lynn, Brighton and Hove Albion club director Martin Perry and Sue Addis, managing director of long-standing restaurant Donatello.

As well as Sue’s personal award recommendation, Donatello are up for their own and have been put forward for Business in the Community.

Speaking of their continued success and their nomination for the award, Sue said: “Part of our success is that we are a family-run business. That and hard work.”

The restaurant has long been a sponsor of Brighton and Hove Albion, with their logo appearing prominently on the back of their shirts since 1998.

Sue added: “We’ve seen a lot of business come from the football club. We’ve been with them when they were suffering, notably when they were playing in Gillingham in the lower leagues.

“Football fans have families and they come to eat with us to celebrate and when the team lose, they come in when they are miserable! It’s a pleasure to be officiated with them.”

Since opening in 1991, Donatello have sponsored the Albion, City in Bloom, Brighton Fringe Festival and the Theatre Royal among others as they go up against The Plough and Wellesley Wealth Advisory in their category.

The other award that always gains the most support is Courageous Child of the Year, sponsored by The Argus Appeal.

This category sees children nominated who have boldly battled illness and exhibited braveness to help others. Alex Rookley was put forward having rescued his friend who began struggling against the waves in Eastbourne sea in August.

Others are Hayley Okines, 14, who suffers from progeria, a condition that has seen only 140 ever diagnosed. Brave Rhys Watkins has twice battled cancer in a year as he continues to soldier on through treatment.

Two-year-old Abi Marshall suffers from Reflex Anoxic Seizures as she tries to live a normal life despite the fear of extreme emotions potentially causing her heart to stop.

Benedict McAlister, five, battles a rare muscle-wasting disease and Ryan Mander, 13, struggles to walk because of brittle bones as all youngsters will hope to be further recognised for their courage by winning the award.

One school in the city that helps children with illness and disability through learning is Downs View School, who share Varndean College’s campus on Surrenden Road.

They too have been nominated for their own award, as they go up against Hove Park School and Hertford Infant & Nursery School for School of the Year.

Downs View has consistently been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in all categories. Its continued success has been a remarkable achievement since it was built in 2006.

Sandy Austen, who works at the college and nominated them for the award, said: “The whole school is geared towards helping students prepare for their future lives.

“It’s been such a luxury to have the space an equipment to give the students a proper education.

“Notably, we have set up inclusion work with neighbouring Varndean College and the opportunity for our students to go out on work experience.

“To continue our success, we’re preparing to put in a lot of hard work and continue with the right education to cater for people’s needs.”

The college was originally built to provide for 19-25-year-olds but now is available to a whole range of ages with learning difficulties.

Other categories in the Achievement Awards include the Adam Faith Local Hero of the Year, Contribution to Arts and Culture, Mum of the Year, Charity of the Year, Community Event of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Dad of the Year, Achiever of the Year, Young Employee of the Year, Green Project of Person of the Year, Carer of the Year, Outstanding Pupil of the Year, Beyond the Call of Duty and Public Services.

The awards ceremony will be hosted by newsreader Nicholas Owen and the results and pictures will be in The Argus on Monday (29th) and Tuesday (30th).

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