21 November 2013

Five months of preparation came to fruition at Stoke Damerel Community College’s annual Celebration Evening attended by some very special guests.

Ben Mee of We Bought a Zoo fame was the guest speaker at the event on 21 November 2013.

He spoke to the audience of more than 400 students, staff and parents about how he came to take over Dartmoor Zoo.

It was part of a packed evening which saw more than 100 students recognised for their achievements in a range of subjects and their contribution to College life.

In addition to a variety of video and musical performances a number of special annual awards were presented as well as the Roma French Awards.

The evening opened with a musical performance

The awards, which are sponsored by The Drake Foundation and Plymouth City Council, were given out for the first time at last year’s Celebration Evening.

They are now presented annually in the name of Roma who was a campaigner and charity worker, and the mother of comedian Dawn French who, along with brother Gary, attended the celebrations.

And Captain Arthur Ainslie who is chair of the Drake Foundation - a community charity which gives awards in the Plymouth area - was also there to hand over the three special awards.

Introducing the awards Councillor Nicky Williams described Roma, who died in 2012, as “someone who tirelessly educated herself and was always helping young people to recognise their potential”.

The winners were Chelsie Brown, who was recognised for her determination, resilience and perseverance, Megan Fearn who was commended for her care and friendship and Tyler Stacey - described as an inspirational role model.  

The evening was rounded off with a speech of thanks from the College's Chair of Governors Colin Searls.

Speaking after the event Dawn explained that she and Gary decided to become involved with the awards because of their mother’s connections with the area.

“My mum was brought up in the Stonehouse and Devonport area,” said Dawn.

She added it had been “really hard” to decide who the awards should go to this time.

“But my brother and I are really pleased with these three,” she said.

“My mum was a quietly determined person and I think she would approve of the winners tonight.”

Ben Mee said he had “thoroughly” enjoyed the evening.

 “They were a lovely audience and I was really impressed with the student presenters,” said Ben.

“They displayed some world-class comic timing and I noticed that Dawn French was laughing at their jokes - she’s a professional so they must have been doing something right.

 “It was amazing to see the inner confidence of the students, that can’t be taught.

“You need to create an environment where that can happen and that’s clearly happening here.”

Assistant vice principal Mr Giles, who organises the event, said all the preparation was “worth every moment”.

“The evening was a huge success and I would like to congratulate all the student winners."

Celebration Evening a 'huge' success

Tags: News: Academic Year 2013-14