The unique achievements and talents of young people in care were showcased and celebrated at this year’s EPIC (Exceptional People in Care) Awards.
A highest-ever total of 283 nominees were recognised at the ceremony on Sunday, 9 December 2018 – toasting the inspirational, big-hearted and creative children in care and care leavers across West Sussex.
Organised by the Children in Care Council with support of West Sussex County Council, this year’s EPIC awards were Harry Potter-themed and the biggest to date. Many of the 625 children, families, carers and staff volunteers attending came as wizards to add to a spellbinding day.
CBeebies presenter Sid Sloane opened proceedings at Bognor Regis Butlin’s and Children in Care Council members then helped present the awards.
Paul Marshall, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, helped hand out one of the awards. He said: “This was my first EPIC awards as cabinet member and it lived up to its name – it was truly epic! The room was buzzing with incredible young people and it was a fantastic celebration of their talents, strength and achievements, shared by families and the amazing people who care for them.
“The Children in Care Council planned and delivered a magical event and should be proud that they showcased the unique young talent we have in West Sussex.”
The main awards were:
• Big Thinker – This went to a young man who has made great progress at his school.
• Big Hearts – Awarded to a young person who the audience heard has ‘taken every opportunity to better his life, learn English and study and help others who feel isolated’.
• The Chris Lindfield Award for Volunteering in the Community –awarded to a 13-year-old who raised £600 for a sanctuary for homeless teenagers
• Big Talent – Went to a teenage girl who overcame her fears to sing on stage in front of hundreds of people
• Big Strength – Went to a young girl who is making great progress at school and is learning to swim and ride horses.
• Inspirational Care Leaver – This went to a young woman who has created amazing films and photo exhibitions highlighting the experiences of children in care.
• Inspirational Young Person in Care – this went to someone who, despite complex health needs, shows courage and determination in all that she does
This year saw the introduction of a new award – the Best Supporting Adult of the Year – which went to foster carer Sue Hollowell. Words from her foster child which were read out said Sue ‘gave me a new family, hope and love’ and is ‘the reason I believe miracles can be real’.
All of the young nominees picked up a trophy, a goody bag provided through funding from the sponsors and an advent calendar donated by West Sussex County Council staff.
Hayley Connor, Head of Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help at West Sussex County Council, helped host the awards. She said: “The resilience, creativity and joy in the room celebrating each child, young person and adult who provides care and support was completely overwhelming and inspirational.”
Sarah Daly, Head of Children’s Social Care at West Sussex County Council, added: “I was really proud to be a part of such an amazing event that was a great opportunity for all to come together to celebrate the incredible achievements of our children and young people. It was lovely to meet so many people and hear their stories.”
Thanks goes to everyone who supported the event, including Butlin’s, PWC, Virtual School, SEND Commissioning Team, Worthing Rotary Club, Hays Travel, MOMO One, Summersdale Publishing, Fiona Linfield, Sid Sloane, Matt Lucas, Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Brighton and Hove Albion FC and Chichester Ladies Football Club.