Mansfield’s creative talent is rewarded at annual Inspire awards

Sali Gresham, winner of the tutor of the year award.
Sali Gresham, winner of the tutor of the year award.

Creative talent from the Mansfield area came to the fore when the arts company, Inspire, held its third annual awards evening.

Inspire is the organisation that runs the culture, learning and libraries services across Nottinghamshire for the county council.

Joseph Hales receives his adult learner of the year award from Coun Kevin Rostance.

Joseph Hales receives his adult learner of the year award from Coun Kevin Rostance.

Mansfield Central Library hosted the awards ceremony, and several people from the district either won accolades or were named as finalists.

They included Sali Gresham, who landed the prestigious tutor of the year award for her inspirational work in running the Square Peg dance group for disabled people.

The judges said: “Through her hard work and dedication, Sali has helped build and sustain a meaningful disability dance group and has beautifully choreographed pieces of work.”

They also heard from one of her students, who said: “She gives us everything, and deserves something special.”

Dancers from the Genetic Hype crew with their inspired to create award that they won for a piece of work called Envision.

Dancers from the Genetic Hype crew with their inspired to create award that they won for a piece of work called Envision.

Sali herself said she was “gobsmacked” to win the award. She added: “It means even more to me that the nominations came from young people I work with.

“I get to do a great job I love within an organisation that creates such a wealth of fantastic opportunities for young people. To be seen and recognised is really precious.”

Also chosen as a finalist for tutor of the year was Fiona Theokritoff, who delivers creative writing classes in the Newark and Sherwood district.

It was one of several categories, for which awards were handed out by Couns Kevin Rostance and Kay Cutts, the chairman and leader respectively of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Fiona Theokritoff receives a certificate from Coun Kay Cutts as a finalist in the tutor of the year category.

Fiona Theokritoff receives a certificate from Coun Kay Cutts as a finalist in the tutor of the year category.

The aim of the awards was to celebrate the achievements of individuals and staff that are part of Inspire, and the whole evening was hosted by BBC Radio Nottingham presenter, Dean Jackson. Music was provided by the talented choir, Inspired Voices.

Other Mansfield-based winners included Joseph Hales, who scooped the adult learner of the year honour for masterminding the creation of a 30-minute play that was professionally recorded at the Inspire Youth Arts studio at The Old Library in the town.

After attending a book-review workshop at Rhubarb Farm in Langwith, Joseph was inspired into setting up his own group to produce an audio play.

The winner of the inspired to create award was Envision, an innovative piece of work, combining digital street-dance, narrative and animation, that delighted audiences at ShowFest19 at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre.

A look of surprised horror on the face of Sali Gresham as she receives her tutor of the year award from Coun Kay Cutts.

A look of surprised horror on the face of Sali Gresham as she receives her tutor of the year award from Coun Kay Cutts.

Envision was created by Luke Rainford, of the Genetic Hype dance crew, and animation artist Allan Buxton, who collected the award along with fellow dancers Caine Morley and Ashley Taylor.

A finalist in the customer-service excellence award was Tracy Kelly, who works at Farnsfield Library. Tracy was nominated by library user Vera Franklin, who said she was greatly touched by Tracy’s kind act of delivering books and tapes after Vera had just come out of hospital.

Meanwhile, Portland College, of Mansfield, was picked as a finalist in the innovative partnership category. The college, a special education needs organisation, provides digital music and dance sessions in partnership with Inspire Youth Arts.

Mansfield boasted two finalists in the category for the unsung hero award. Russ Branston was nominated for the “smooth, friendly and thoughtful” way he runs the cafe at The Old Library arts venue, and for the way he interacts with students and staff.

The building officers at Mansfield Central Library were also nominated for the efficient and cheerful way they go about their work, always showing a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude.

Finally, the award for young person: greatest learning journey attracted nominations for Sean Buttery, who made it to the final four. This was for the amazing progress he has achieved since joining the aforementioned Square Peg dance group in Mansfield for disabled people.

The judges said: “Without having performed before, Sean has learned tons about movement and how to participate and communicate in a group.”