We look at the individuals who have really benefited from money given by Swallowdale
In the final look back at how £25,000 cash given to youngsters and projects through The Gazette’s Community Cash Giveaway has been used to good effect, we focus on how individual donations have made a real difference.
Last year we teamed up with the Swallowdale Children’s Trust in a bid to help community groups and young people.
The Trust, which was set up in 1894, wanted to reach a new audience and, together with The Gazette, they did just that.
And the good news is our Community Cash Giveaway is returning in 2014.
We will launch this year’s giveaway next week when we will give full details on how to apply.
Outside of this, Swallowdale considers applications from groups and individuals throughout the year.
To make a request for a grant, write to: Swallowdale Children’s Trust, PO Box 1301, Blackpool, FY1 9HD
It was almost check mate for Jordan Lewis when his family was unable to send him to Leeds and Torquay for two major chess tournaments.
But thanks to a grant of £500 from The Gazette’s Community Giveaway and Swallowdale Children’s Trust, Jordan and his family were able to attend both the British Rapid Players and the British Chess Championships.
Jordan, 14, won the rapid players under 16s competition.
He said: “I didn’t win at the British championships as I was placed in the adult section. I am used to playing adults, but these were very good players.
“I’d say it was the toughest competition I’ve ever been involved in, but it was an honour to have been there.
“I would not have been able to go it wasn’t for the money from The Gazette and Swallowdale.”
Jordan, of Cleveleys, says he’s not sure if he’s taking part in next year’s championships, but he’ll be putting his all into his next big tournament, which is in Blackpool in March.
He said: “I’ve been playing chess since I was six-years-old. I was a member of a kids chess club and it’s escalated from there.”
He is a member of Poulton and Rossall chess club and he helps teach younger children at Cleveleys Junior Chess Club.
His proud mum Marie said: “There’s no way he could have gone to Leeds and Torquay without this money.
“I was so excited for him, but it just takes everything in his stride. It’s made a huge difference – when you’re in this sort of class of chess they expect you to go all over the place but we just can’t afford it.”
For Ben Holmes, a funding boost of £1,000 helped to secure his place in the World Dwarf Games in Michigan, USA.
Ben, who suffers with achondroplasia – a form of dwarfism which sees him standing at just 4ft 6ins tall – and needed £1,400 to travel to America and pay for accommodation for him and his family for his 11-day stay.
Together with money raised in a fund-raising night, the grant from The Gazette and Swallowdale Children’s Trust enabled him to take part in the international tournament.
The 16-year-old competed against other competitors, many older than him, in several track events in August, including javelin, shot putt and discus.
He said: “It was a brilliant experience and the games were really good.
“I didn’t win anything, but I never expected to. I was one of the youngest in my category and I did my best.
“It was the experience I got while I was there that means more to me.”
Ben, of Kilnhouse Lane, St Annes, became involved in sport around four years ago through the Dwarf Sports Association and trains at Blackpool Athletics Club.
He said: “Without that money I’m not sure what I would have done, I probably would have had to ask around for it. “I truly am grateful for it.”
Mirabelle Pavia’s last performance on the ice reduced the audience to tears.
That’s according to her proud mum, Esther Pavia, who says her incredible display would not have been possible without the help of The Gazette and Swallowdale Children’s Trust.
Mirabelle, 11, was given £500 towards skating lessons in our Community Giveaway, which she has once a week with coach Natalia Pestova at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Esther, 47, said: “She’s doing absolutely brilliantly. She’s now in her NISA level one and has had a solo slot in the Ice Twirlers show in October.
“The show included a write-up in the programme which has boosted her confidence and self-esteem no end.
“We were able to have an outfit designed and made for her for the twirlers show that would have cost me £154. It was so special and she loved every single minute of it.
“During the show the majority of the audience was in tears – she really brought the house down. She was wonderful and I am extremely proud.”
The money has meant Mirabelle, who has autism and learning difficulties, has been able to have extra skating lessons and spend more time on the ice each week thanks to the grant.
An award of £1,000 helped prove Adam Simpson that people believed in him, despite his dyslexia.
Adam, of Thirsk Grove, Blackpool, has been writing compositions since he was 10 years old, and always knew he wanted a career in music.
But while he was in primary school he was diagnosed with the condition, which would make his education and passing exams harder than it was for his peers.
But Adam, now 22, was determined to do the best he could, and the money given to him has gone towards his masters degree at the University of Central Lancashire.
And his family, mum and dad Dorothy and James Douglas and Nan Barbara Simpson, could not be prouder.
Dorothy said: “Heaven knows what we would have done without that money. The family has been paying for his studies in the main, but I don’t think he would have been able to do his Masters without this money.
“It really has made the difference between him being where he is now and not even getting into UCLan.
“I can’t begin to thank The Gazette and Swallowdale enough,”
Dorothy said when Adam was diagnosed, some teachers were quick to write him off as not being clever.
She added: “Adam was devastated, but he has always fought against it and worked hard all through secondary school, sixth form and for his degree with his music to get to where he is now.
“He’s really keen to show people that despite dyslexia, you can do it; you can get a degree and you can go on to do the things you want to in life”
For Brioni Crowe, a helping hand of £1,000 has helped her secure a place in the Northern Royal College of Music.
And because of her links with the music school, master flautist Brioni has secured a place on a national symphony orchestra.
Proud mum Rebekah said: “Since she started in September she’s been doing really well. She was asked to audition for the symphony orchestra, and was the only one who got in from the school.
“The £1,000 from The Gazette and Swallowdale has helped her tremendously. It’s great because it costs £4,000 a year for her to go to the college – it’s an awful lot of money for a 10-year-old.
“That money meant we were able to accept her place. Without it, she wouldn’t be there and she would be devastated.”
For next year, Brioni’s family, who live in Wharles are looking for sponsorship.
She is due to perform at the Royal Albert Hall next year and has ambitions to form part of the BBC Proms before she’s 12.
Rebekah, 30, said: “She’s moving into the bigger classes and she’s working really hard because it’s what she loves. We all just hope it continues.
“Brioni wants to go into a major orchestra and really wants to travel with her music. One day she hopes to become a teacher.
“We’re so proud of her, she’s worked so hard.”
Three pole vaulters were awarded a total of £1,050 to help boost their athletics prospects.
Hannah Newell, 15, Fiona Hockey, 15, and Dominic Lavelle, 16 – all members of Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde Athletics Club, were given £350 each to buy new equipment ahead of this year’s summer season. All three are coached by Kevin Davies.
He said: “We haven’t actually spent the money yet. When we got it we were in the middle of competition season so it was too late to get new ones.
“Because the children are growing all the time we want their new poles to be completely right for them when they need it.
“We get through poles fairly quickly because they are growing so much so we have to get it right for the next season.”
The trio have had three months off the equipment, and have been working on getting their bodies stronger and fitter ready for the winter competitions next month.
Kevin said the new poles will be ordered this month.
If it wasn’t for the money The Gazette provided through a partnership with the Swallowdale Children’s Trust, Kevin said the trio would have to compete on borrowed equipment.
“I would have had to put the feelers out to other coaches in the North West, or as far as Sheffield and Manchester,” he said.
“Some coaches don’t like to loan their poles out.
“Fiona is the best girl we’ve ever had in Blackpool. She’ll be competing in the national championships in March and I am trying to get all of them to international level.
“That means they have to have to best equipment.”
A gift of £500 was what 11-year-old Harry Walford needed to get into an elite skate camp and progress his figure skating career.
Harry spent a week of his summer holidays at the camp in Dundee working on his skating moves alongside skating champions, boosting his confidence that one day he will be a champion too.
His mum, Sarah, said: “He was working from 5am to 4pm and was so privileged to be in the same group as two Great Britain champions.
“It was an amazing experience for him and we’re already trying to raise money for the next camp in April.”
Harry was able to go thanks to the money from The Gazette’s Community Giveaway, in partnership with the Swallowdale Children’s Trust.
He started ice skating after going to a friend’s birthday party in August 2011.
Sarah, of Cleveleys, said: “He asked if he could have lessons and it’s gone from there. It’s changed our lives.
“It costs £700 a month for his lessons and skates and that’s money we have to pay out. We’re looking for sponsorship, but if it wasn’t for Swallowdale and The Gazette it would have fallen to family and friends.
“It’s so great that he went to the camp – it boosted his confidence, without a doubt. It made him feel important and that people believed in him.”
Talented karate student Dominic Mancini, 17, spent his £350 Swallowdale grant on training to compete at world class level.
Dominic, of Salcotes Road, Lytham, was entered into The Gazette’s Community Giveaway by his coach, Lucie Marsh, at Lytham YMCA who said she was impressed with his commitment and mental attitude.
Dominic (pictured with Swallowdale Trust chairman Nigel Law and Gazette Editor Jon Rhodes) said: “It meant a lot to me to be awarded that money. It was life changing because I’m living with my grandma and there is a restricted income.
“The donation was fantastic, and allowed me to train more frequently and put the money into competitions.”