Ariel Drama Academy has honoured Lauren Masser, of Haywards Heath, with its Gordon Hopson Award.
Ariel has six established drama academies across Sussex in Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham and Steyning.
Director Nicci Hopson said: “Transferable life skills have always been a top priority for all who work at Ariel Drama Academy and over the past 15 years so many students have benefited from the important role drama, singing and dance bring into adult life.
“The Gordon Hopson Award was established to recognise students at each of the six academies who embody the true spirit of Ariel Drama Academies. These students display many qualities, such as promoting Ariel’s belief in inclusion and diversity and perseverance in facing new challenges. Lauren was our recipient this year and her story is truly remarkable. Lauren has been attending Ariel for ten years and started in our special needs division of the Academy, called the Ariel Othello’s.”
Lauren said: “When I joined, I was in Ariel Othello’s and this gave me the opportunity to perform different pieces of theatre. I received lots of support and encouragement from the tutors and buddies which gave me the confidence to join the main Ariel Academy.
“Social situations can be very difficult for me. At Ariel everyone from the tutors to buddies has been so friendly, supportive and always make sure I am included. This has helped me feel more confident in social situations.
“With the encouragement from the tutors, I gained confidence in performing and enjoy taking part in auditions. I love going to drama every week, and being part of Ariel has helped build my confidence socially and creatively. I am proud to say that I was given the Gordon Hopson Award in recognition of my contribution to Ariel.
“Through the support, skills and confidence I have gained from attending Ariel, I am delighted to say I have a place at the Orpheus Centre. This is a specialist performing arts college which uses theatre as a way to promote learning, personal development, life skills and employability skills.”
Ariel director Nicci Hopson added “We are beyond proud of Lauren and this just confirms the power of Drama and its life changing qualities.
“Lauren started in our special needs division but after several years worked so hard and moved to our mainstream Academy, and has been going from strength to strength ever since.
“Lauren is a shining example of if you work hard and have a pure love of a subject, great things can happen. We wish Lauren all the best at the Orpheus Centre and we look forward to her continuing her journey in performing.
“The Gordon Hopson Award was established to recognise students at each of their six academies who embody the true spirit of Ariel Drama Academies.
“The award is in memory of a great support of Ariel over the last 25 years, Gordon Hopson. He was the late father to the artistic principal Neil Hopson.
“A performer and director himself over many years, his positive ethos and love of the arts was infectious. He always championed our students and strongly believed that the transferable life skills taught in drama can be life changing. The award came about not only to celebrate theatrical talent but to recognise students who persevere when facing challenges and for kindness, also for being a good ambassador of Ariel.”