South Somerset’s young people and volunteers get the red carpet treatment

An enthusiastic audience was both thrilled and inspired as South Somerset District Council’s tenth Gold Star Awards evening came to the Octagon Theatre on Tuesday 25 October.

First held 10 years ago in front of dozens of people at Yeovil’s Cineworld the Gold Star Awards has grown into a well-respected and much loved awards ceremony.

The Gold Star Award winners 2016. Photo: Christine Jones.

The Gold Star Awards primarily focus on celebrating inspirational young people and the adult volunteers working with them. Nine awards were presented on the evening as well as live performances from The Dance Academy, Cary Amateur Theatrical Society and Castaways Theatre Group. The final act was a local young rock group named The Cherry Trees who went down a storm.

A warm ovation greeted all winners with Ash Rovers Junior Football Club and Brookside Holiday Activity Club in Street generating a lot of excitement. Two local young sports stars shared the Junior Sports Performer of the Year – Mitchell Ayers from Chard Boxing Club who bounced back from seven consecutive boxing defeats to reach the National Championship semi-final and Lannece Hole from Orchard Gymnastics who currently holds the British Gymnastics National Tumbling title.

The highly coveted Lifetime Achievement award was won by Alan Sandall who has been volunteering for an incredible 70 years. As he made his way to the stage the audience gave him an extended standing ovation. Now 89, Alan is still an active volunteer and is a District Scout President and holder for a Silver Wolf medal for exceptional service. It was a successful night for the Scouting movement with Barton St David Scout Group scooping the Junior Club of the Year and James Divall from West Coker Scouts winning the Adult Volunteer prize.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, South Somerset’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Culture said, “South Somerset District Council is committed to supporting young people year round and this awards ceremony gives well deserved recognition to so many of our local heroes.

“These dedicated volunteers, coaches and young people enable many of the rural villages to run the clubs, facilities and activities that are the lifeblood of their communities. This event is about giving something back to these people as well as sharing some remarkably inspirational stories.”

Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council added, “The Gold Star Awards saw the South Somerset District Council team performing to the highest possible standard. Everything about the evening was superbly organised and managed and professionalism shone through. Every year you think it cannot get any better but it does. Last night was in the top league with the Lifetime Achievement award the highlight. To see 89 year old Alan Sandall walk lightly across that stage and talk to us about Scouting and Dunkirk was inspiring and every person, young and old, that walked onto that stage last night deserved to be there and to be publicly recognised.”