Swale Youth Development Fund

Our best achievers

Lara Stembridge is the fund’s latest “Best Achiever”

A talented gymnast from Faversham is the latest young person to receive the fund’s “Best Achiever” accolade.

Lara Stembridge collected her trophy, in a special presentation at the town’s Guildhall, from former Mayor of Swale Pat Sandle, who proposed the award at the end of her term of office.

Lara, aged 18, who performs on the vault, asymmetric bars, beam and floor, joined an elite club at the age of six and ever since then has been pursuing gymnastics at a competitive level.

She has recently joined Kent University where she is studying a four-year course in Clinical Psychology.

Lara has been a member of Kent county squad for the past 10 years and is the only gymnast in Kent to qualify for National Grade Finals over five consecutive years.

She is twice floor champion at the English Championships and three times Kent Champion at Challenge Level. In 2018 Lara was the only South East Gymnast to qualify for the British Challenge Cup in Surrey. Over the years Lara’s competitions have taken her to Birmingham, Surrey, Stoke on Trent and Leicester.

Lara says she intends to maintain her Kent Squad place and to perform in the British Universities Championships in 2020. She has range of challenging moves and links that she wants to successfully compete in the British Universities competition. This will hopefully increase her tariff so that she can achieve higher scores.

However, not content with competing, Lara has also successfully passed her judging qualifications. She has judged at local competitions including Faversham Gymnastics Club`s Championships and the Key Steps Primary Schools Competition.

Most recently she travelled to Guildford to judge at the South East Regional Championships and also helps the younger gymnasts at her club, giving coaching and judging tips.

Sports award for brother and sister

Two of Swale’s most successful young sports stars have received special recognition from the Swale Youth Development Fund.

Brother and sister Isaac and Imogen Jenner have been chosen as joint winners of the charity’s Best Achiever trophy donated by former Swale Mayor Pat Sandle.

The records of both Jenners in the world of indoor bowling is impressive.

In April 2018 Isaac (14) won his first senior Kent title as the men’s county triples champion and was a member of the Swale Bowls Club’s team which won the under-25 triple national championships. In September he was selected to represent a mixed under-18 England team  in an outdoor test against Wales.

The following month, despite being the youngest team member, Isaac “skipped” England in the triples and fours for the British Isles International series against Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Losing out in a bronze medal play-off in the triples, Isaac had more success in the fours. After wins over Scotland and Wales, they faced the other England rink in the final and another close encounter saw Isaac and his quartet win the gold medal.

Isaac has also recently heard that he has been given a Men’s U25 trial which will take place in December at Rugby Indoor Bowls club.

In April 2018 Imogen (18) won the Ladies National fours with team members from Swale Bowls Club, Paige Dennis, Sandy Hazel and Wendy King.

In June she represented England’s outdoor senior team in a test series against Australia at Leamington Spa and she also helped England win an under-25 outdoor international series, beating Scotland, Wales and Ireland. 

Imogen is now back indoor for the new season with the highlight so far representing England, as the current National Fours Champions, in the British Isles series which will be held in Essex in March 2019. She has also just received confirmation that she has an England Ladies senior trial & an England Ladies U25 trial in December at Rugby.

Both brother and sister have previously received support from the Swale Youth Development Fund, whose aim is to help young people in the borough who have a particular talent in virtually any field, including sport, art and music.

Fund chairman Sarah Drury said: “We are always delighted when young people we have supported achieve their potential. Isaac and Imogen are both doing that and we are extremely proud of their success so far.”

Hat-trick for young sailor Morgan

A talented young sailor from Lynsted has clocked up a hat-trick of awards from the Swale Youth Development Fund. Seen here collecting his award from Sir Hugh Robertson.

Morgan Archer, now aged 15, is the only young person so far to receive all three accolades – the Gerry Cassell Annual Special Award in October 2015, an award from The Richard Moreton Bursary Fund (which makes payments up to £2,000) in April 2017, and the “Best Achiever” trophy (donated by former Mayor of Swale Mrs Pat Sandle) in September 2017.

Morgan, who attends the Abbey School, Faversham, has been a keen sailor since the age of 5, encouraged by his father.

In 2012 Morgan started to compete in Topper youth competitions and worked his way up through the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Youth Steering Group, which helps develop the attributes needed to progress into Youth and Olympic racing for a selected number of sailors.

At the end of 2016 Morgan moved onto youth class racing through the UK 29er Class.  The 29er is a high performance skiff, a two-person dinghy which is much faster than the Topper so Morgan and his fellow crew member have to be a lot fitter and co-ordinated.

This move allows Morgan to stay in the RYA Olympic pathway attending training and national events.

Morgan finished the 2015 season by winning the RYA South East Zone and Home Country championships for the second year in a row and was ranked 8th in the country.

In February this year Morgan and his crew took part in the 29er Winter Championships near Rugby, gaining a first as a junior team and eighth overall place in the mixed eight-race contest which included junior (under-16), youth and adults.

They continued winning more 1st place positions and at the end of the racing season in August won 1st overall junior team for 2016/17.

Toby Turpin from Minster – Musical Theatre 

Toby first came to the attention of the Fund in 2010 as an Irish dancer.  Since that time his talent has enabled him to be involved in many varied projects – too many to list here.  A couple of highlights: When aged 13 Toby was one of 20 successful applicants out of 1,000 who auditioned to be part of a production by the newly formed Shakespeare’s Globe Young Players – a scheme based at the venue for promising actors aged 12 to 16.  In November 2016 Toby sang at the National Youth Musical Theatre’s 40th Anniversary show at the Adelphi Theatre, London having previously taken part in several National Youth Musical Theatre productions.  On several occasions Toby has sung and danced at the fund’s own fundraising events.

Amelia Henley from Faversham – Squash

In 2015 aged 17, Amelia came 3rd in the European under 19s, 2nd in the English Closed under 19s and represented the winning England team in the 2015 Europeans, came 3rd in the Dutch Junior Open under 19s, finished in the top 16 of the World Junior Championships (individuals) and represented the Bronze placed England team in the Junior World Championships. Amelia is ranked No. 2 in the UK Girls under 19 category.

Will Tumber from Sittingbourne – Taekwondo

In 2013 aged 12, Will competed and trained in both ITF and WTF style of Taekwondo (WTF being the Olympic style of the sport).  In 2014 when aged 13 he was selected to become a member of the Great Britain Cadet Squad and won a number of competitions including the WTF Nottingham Open and the ITF LTSI Open Championships.