Swale Youth Development Fund

Here are some examples of the talented young people helped by the Swale Youth Development Fund

Their ages and level of achievement shown are at the time of being given an award. They have continued to progress and trustees look forward to receiving updates from them.

When former Mayor of Swale Pat Sandle’s term of office ended in May 2013 she wanted to provide something to show her personal support for the Fund. This became a trophy bearing the inscription ‘Swale Youth Development Fund Annual Award to a young person who has reached a high level of achievement during the year‘. Trustees choose a suitable nominee from among the many young people helped by the Fund with Mrs Sandle presenting it. A plaque showing the relevant year is also given to the individual to keep.

Nominees to date are:

2019 Lara Stembridge from Faversham – Gymnastics

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.

2018 Isaac Jenner and Imogen Jenner from Sittingbourne – Bowls

The records of this brother and sister 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.

2017 Morgan Archer from Lynsted – Sailor

Morgan, aged 15, is the only young person so far to receive all three of the Fund’s accolades – the *Gerry Cassell Annual Special Award in October 2015, an award from *The Richard Moreton Bursary Fund in April 2017, and this trophy which was presented by Sir Hugh Robertson, Chairman of the British Olympic Association in Mrs Sandle’s unavoidable absence.

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 2017 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.

2016 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.

2015 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.

2014 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.

Isabella Bradley

A degree in marine biology at Plymouth University is 16 year old Isabella’s main ambition at the moment with a career in that discipline hopefully to follow. So her dedication to the sport of scuba diving should really come in handy.

While studying biology, maths, geography and photography at Fulston Manor School, Isabella has been spending all her spare time gaining qualifications in her hobby, including advanced open water, enriched air diver, emergency first response and rescue diver. Ultimately, she wants to become a Dive Master, which is the first working qualification, and this would help pay her way through university.

All this takes a lot of independent study, classroom work and practising scenarios as well as great financial commitment.

The cost of oxygen cylinders, weights, wetsuit, drysuit, dive watch, boots, fins and mask, coupled with various training courses and a trip to Egypt for coral conservation work, all mount up.

So far, her proud mother had been paying all the bills, but the Trustees were pleased to make a contribution in April 2021.

Bethany Dewey

This talented 18 year old artist had begun her third year studying graphic design and fine art at Mid Kent College when she applied for support from the Fund  in October 2020.

Bethany’s painting of Walt Disney’s Stitch.

Bethany had tackled a number of medical challenges which made life difficult for her socially, so painting and drawing became her major pastime, with many hours spent in her bedroom pursuing her hobby and improving her artistic ability.

Pencil sketch of an eye reflecting a New York skyline.

However, she has thrived at college and a tutor’s assessment said of one of her projects: “You have worked really hard during lockdown to achieve a highly accomplished and finished project and should be really proud of yourself.

“The research and planning that you have done is of a very high standard and demonstrates that you are able to see a project through from an idea/concept to a highly finished final piece.

“The pages, layout and presentation are also of a very high standard.”

To encourage Bethany with her talent and enable her to continue working at home, Trustees agreed to fund all the arts materials – including paints, canvasses, pencils, art paper, oil and chalk pastels, charcoal and felt tips – that she requested.

Emily Crompton

After receiving assistance from the Fund nearly four years ago, Emily continued to progress her interests in performing arts and musical theatre. She had already performed in the West End and at the O2 and had won several competitions.

Trustees were happy to consider a second application from her three years later in July 2020, by which time Emily had completed a year at the Bird College of Dance in Sidcup and was about to begin training professionally at a drama school in London.

The course itself, coupled with the cost of accommodation and subsistence were being met mostly by her very supportive family and Emily, now 19, says she is looking forward to repaying them from her career earnings in the future.

Trustees were again keen to assist her with her ambition to gain a degree in musical theatre and then embark on a career, beginning perhaps with cruise liners with the ultimate aim of returning to the West End stage.

Nicola Smith

When she first applied to the Fund in 2017, Nicola had already embarked on a three-year golf scholarship in the USA where she was studying for a degree in Criminal Justice. When back in the UK for the summer, she was keen to participate in as many tournaments as possible to help improve her game, and Trustees were happy to help fund the costs of travel and accommodation.

By the following year, Nicola had lowered her handicap to just one, and was representing Kent Ladies’ county team. Most of her tournaments were many miles from home and entailed overnight stays and the Fund was again able to help with those costs.

In 2019 she became Ladies Champion at Sittingbourne and Milton Regis Golf Club and, in the South Region Women’s Championship at Rochester & Cobham Golf Club, Nicola broke the course record by three shots with a round of 67.

A year later, Nicola – still studying and training in the US – had achieved her ambition of becoming a scratch golfer. In early 2020, at the age of 21 – the upper limit for applicants to the Fund – her undoubted potential for golfing success made it easy for Trustees to agree further support as she progressed towards her degree while representing her university in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s top division.

Louis (left) and Finlay (right) pictured after competing.

Louis and Finlay Ashford

These twins are naturally alike in many ways, not least being their undoubted abilities and dedication to the world of triathlons.

Having been members of Swale Combined Athletics Club since 2015, they joined Medway Triathlon Club a year later, competing in aquathlons (swim and run) and duathlons (run, cycle, run) as well as the regular triathlons (swim, cycle, run).

Triathlon is an expensive sport to pursue because the three disciplines all incur costs, for equipment, training and coaching if members have the talent and dedication to achieve a high standard.

Trustees were impressed by their demanding schedule, hearing that after completing the normal school work, their training schedule was usually:

Monday – track running and speed work at Medway Park, Gillingham;

Tuesday – swimming at Hoo for two hours;

Wednesday – bike training at Cyclopark, Gravesend for 1.5 hours and 30 minutes running;

Thursday – swimming for another two hours at Strood Leisure Centre;

Friday or Sunday – swimming for an hour at Hoo. 

In October 2019 Trustees agreed to fund both brothers for a full year’s coaching costs.

When they applied to the Fund for support, both brothers were competing in the British Triathlon’s South East Junior Championships for their 13-14 age group, the highest level of competition in the region and both were selected to represent the SE Region’s duathlon team to face a team from the London Region.

Both had also achieved success in the single discipline of cross-country running and were expecting to continue with their hectic training schedule for the foreseeable future.

Oscar Lyle Perez

Thanks to the support of the SYDF, Oscar, now 20, was able as a teenager to attend summer courses over several years to build his skills as an organist, passing the ABRSM Grade 8 with Distinction and working as the Assistant Organist at St Catherine’s Church in Faversham.

Then, after two successful years as Organ Scholar at St Mary-the-Virgin in Dover, Oscar has held the prestigious organ scholarship at the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair for two years while studying Economics at University College London.

For this coming year, Covid-19 permitting, he will be continuing his studies in Economics in French and German at Sciences Po in France, while also studying French organ music with various teachers, before returning to UCL to complete his undergraduate degree course. 

William Lewis

William, aged 14, started riding when he was 6 years old and soon became a member of The Pony Club enjoying all the equestrian disciplines and was a member of the junior teams for dressage, show jumping and eventing. By the age of 12 William began to jump Nationally and, with his current pony Proud Melody, an 8 year old grey gelding, began to compete seriously in BS Junior leagues.Funding supported specialised training.

Hard work, dedication and patience have seen William progress through the ranks, working his way to being in the top twenty within the South East silver league and in qualifying for the British Nationals in 2015. His ambition is to earn a place on the British show jumping team.

Will Tumber

Will, aged 14, is currently competing and training in both ITF and WTF style of Taekwondo (WTF being the Olympic style of the sport). In 2014 Will 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. In May 2015 he took part in his first world class championship at the Austrian Open which attracts over 1950 international athletes. Will won Bronze in his class. Later that year he won golds at the Liverpool Open and British International Open in London. In December 2015 Will was accepted on to the GB Taekwondo Junior Team. The funding he has received has assisted him in obtaining all the equipment he requires and additional training he needs to compete at this level.

His ultimate ambition is to represent the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In June 2014 Will was the first person to be nominated to receive the trophy donated by Mrs Sandle.

In October 2014 Will was awarded the Gerry Cassell Annual Special Award.

Ryan Ademi

Aged just 11 years old, Ryan’s passion is for drumming and with the help of SYDF has been able to continue with drumming lessons. His progression has been swift, so much so that his teacher says that he can take his Grade 3 this July. Ryan has been described as an extremely gifted and talented individual who possesses an immense desire to learn and achieve his ambition of reaching grade 8 standard. Ryan has also joined the school band at Borden Grammar School.

Connor Williams

Connor, a dancer, submitted his first application in 2006. His progress was consistently impressive and in January 2012 aged 17, he received an award of £1000 for travel and equipment from the Richard Moreton Bursary Fund. At that time he was in his second and final year at the Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon and was on course to gain a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance), an A Level in Social Dance and an A Level in Sociology. He had achieved a high level of dancing particularly at the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) at ‘The Place’, London and the Central Ballet School and had taken part in a variety of different productions.

Connor was one of 8 chosen from dozens of students to dance a Richard Alston choreographed piece at the ‘Backing Youth’ reception at Buckingham Palace in July 2013.

In April 2015 he was invited to join the cast of the west end show ‘The Lion King’ and in August that year achieved a first-class BA Hons degree.

Connor said: “The support of the Swale Youth Development Fund has played a massive part in helping me achieve my dream of becoming a professional dancer.”

Trustees delight in receiving occasional updates on Connor’s ongoing dance successes.