Charity Awards 2011 – winners!

We are MASSIVELY proud to have won one of the most prestigious accolades to be awarded in the UK charity sector at The Charity Awards 2011.

Myself and founder member and trustee Liz collected the award at a fabulously glitzy gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in front of 1,000 of the charity world’s most senior representatives and some celeb presenters including comedian Hugh Dennis, Monica Ali, Krishnan Guru Murthy and Barbara Dickson!

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We were recognised in the Arts, Culture & Heritage category for our work inspiring children in science through the arts – specifically for The Astronautical Challenge which we made in collaboration with our good friends at Coney and Radiowaves.

We were in such amazing company with the other shortlisted organisations including the overall winner Mencap, the controversial and brilliant Circles UK and our friends at Northampton Theatres.

To give you an idea of what this means in our sector, Daniel Phelan (organiser of the Charity Awards 2011) is quoted as saying:

With more nominations than ever this year, it’s clear just how much fantastic work takes place within the sector and the effort and commitment that goes into making charities work. It’s vital that we acknowledge this which is why I’m delighted that Unlimited has won the Arts, culture & heritage award.  The judges singled out those charities whose excellence in charity management they felt will inspire others. Unlimited is an excellent organisation, the award is richly deserved and I congratulate them on their achievements.”

l-r: Ian Wainwright of Ecclesiastical (category sponsor), Liz, Jon and brill actress Olivia Colman

Over dinner we enjoyed the company of the gorgeous Rula Lenska, the brilliant Robert Glenister and Bruno from Strictly Come Dancing. On receiving the award (from the super lovely Olivia Colman who I got to kiss!) I high fived the evening’s host Stephen Mangan boisterously enough to have to apologise later on twitter for fear of having actually hurt him.

Jon high fiving Stephen Mangan

l-r: Ian Wainwright (category sponsor), Olivia Colman, Jon, Liz, Stephen Mangan

The Astronautical Challenge is an adventure for primary school children to inspire them in science by recruiting them to UNSA – the Unlimited Space Agency. Made in close collaboration with the brilliant Coney and Radiowaves the adventure is played over 6 weeks in class, beginning with the children being introduced (through a bespoke website created for them) to young UNSA astronauts Gail and Stefan. The class act as Mission Control for their new astro friends on a simulated Mission To Mars. However, when the Agency ‘lose’ Gail and Stefan, the children’s mission becomes more urgent and they have to help their new friends by performing a series of scientific challenges and uploading reports to the website all culminating in an action packed live finale.

The Astronautical Challenge originally took place in schools in London, Leeds, Northampton and Leicester. We’re currently laying plans with Coney and Radiowaves to repeat the project in many more schools in regions across the UK with a digital platform/application for children and their parents to take part in the adventure outside of a school setting.

If you’d like to partner with us on the project in the future then please get in touch with Emma Rees, General Manager through the contact form. It’s going to be awesome!

It was a very special night. I’m massively proud of and for everyone involved in the project. It’s a cliche but it’s totally true that this is one for all of us – in recognition of the brilliance,  support, dedication, hard work and general awesomeness of everyone involved.

Thanks too to our funders Arts Council England, the Science & Technologies Facilities Council, the Equitable Trust, the Ernest Cook Trust and Northampton Theatres. It was a lot of faith they put in us to make this happen and we hope you’re as proud of the outcome as we are.

Right – I’m off to polish our award! Happy weeekends…

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