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Unsung heroes of Chester arts scene honoured at awards ceremony

Chester Town Hall hosts the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards

Theatre in the Quarter's Quartz group were among those who performed at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

The unsung heroes of the arts scene in Chester have been celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

The Town Hall in Chester was the venue for the announcement of winners in the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards which showcased three community arts groups which provided entertainment for the audience of invited nominees.

Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels presented the awards - just before she took over as Lord Mayor of Chester - before an audience of 200 representing more than 30 voluntary arts groups.

Chester Town Hall was the venue for the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

The awards are to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution that community and voluntary arts groups and individuals make to the sense of wellbeing and community cohesion.

David Woods, chairman of Cheshire West Voluntary Arts Network, said: “We are pleased that our awards continue to attract such high quality entrants who are doing so much great work in creating interesting work that engages large sections of our community.

“We want to celebrate the contribution that community and voluntary arts groups make to the cultural life of our community.

“We know that participation in the arts either as a participant or as a member of the audience enriches the quality of life, improves a sense of wellbeing and promotes community cohesion.

“Across West Cheshire hundreds of groups facilitate this activity week in and week out. We want to recognise that in this awards event.”

Awards categories and winners were as follows:

MUSIC

Winner - Chester Philharmonic Orchestra - founded in 1884, one of the premier non-professional orchestras in North West England. The orchestra, originally known as the Chester Orchestral Society, has a large playing membership enabling it to perform most pieces within the symphonic repertoire. The membership ages range from late teens to over 80. The total number of volunteers involved is around 20-25.

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE:

Winner - Little Actors Theatre, Neston - set up and developed over a period of years by professional actor Samantha Giblin. For 12 years now the Little Actors Theatre has had a Neston base. Its main aim is to ensure there is affordable access to the professionally led performing arts for children and young people of all ages.

Action Transport Theatre were highly commendended in the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards for their production of Scooter Race(Image: UGC)

Highly commended - Scooter Race – written by Action Transport Young writers and performed by students from West Cheshire College.

COMMUNITY PERFORMING ARTS:

The Little Theatre won the Community Performing Arts award which was presented by Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

Winner - Little Theatre, Chester - formed in 1944, the group meets in the Little Theatre in Gloucester Street which is their own building, purchased by the members in 1962. They mount six plays a year in their main auditorium which run for seven nights. The Studio is used to mounts plays, readings and original writing projects and houses the Chester Little Theatre Youth Group which meets weekly.

VISUAL ARTS:

Bex Raven from Funky Aardvark receives the Visual Arts award from Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

Winner - Funky Aardvark - celebrating its five year anniversary in May 2017, Funky Aardvark CIC now represents more than 120 artists at any one time. This year it is hosting exhibitions in collaboration with the Grosvenor Museum, Chester Zoo, CWAC social care users, the National Embroiderers Guild and the ICHF. It has made huge moves forward during the last five years in making art and craft more accessible in Chester and the surrounding area by providing affordable courses for the local community, training for creative business people, mentoring for start-ups, studios for artists and support for people wanting to transition into a creative career.

Mike Graham from the Chester Film Society receiving a commendation in the Visual Arts category from Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

Highly Commended - Chester Film Society - provides 18 to 20 films during the season which runs from September until April. Each year the society runs an international film festival and in the last four years has an international animation Short Films Festival running alongside.

UNSUNG HERO:

Tony Blain, City of Chester Training Band coordinator, receives the Unsung Hero award from Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards(Image: UGC)

Winner - Tony Blain, City of Chester Training Band coordinator - This award winner stands outside in the cold in the winter during the band’s numerous events running up to Christmas, encouraging people to listen to the band. He gets to events early to set up, brings the music stands, the music and sorts the chairs. He is the person who stands in Waitrose while the band is playing and encourages children to tap out the rhythm on the tambourine. He arranges all the events for the band, ensures that instruments are available for new players, music is in place and that everyone knows where to be. He makes the tea at rehearsal, and tirelessly promotes the band on the radio and in the media. Although he is not in the greatest of health is commitment is amazing.

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY ARTS:

Ian Lancaster receives the Outstanding Contribution to Community and Voluntary Arts award on behalf of Michael Mills of Frodsham Players from Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Razia Daniels at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

Winner - Michael Mills, Frodsham Players - The winner of this award has been an inspiring director of plays for Frodsham Players for almost 20 years. During this time, the group has performed a diverse range of good quality drama, most of which have been large-cast plays involving both adults and children, often incorporating original music. He has facilitated performances in the atmospheric 12th century St Laurence Church in Frodsham, when the play was suitable to be performed here, as well as at Frodsham Community Centre and outdoor performances on the Church green.

Decibellas were among those who performed at the Community and Voluntary Arts Awards. Picture by Mark Carline(Image: UGC)

Groups who performed at the awards ceremony included Decibellas, Home Grown Dance and Theatre in the Quarter’s Quartz.

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