Dame Julie Walters presents Samaritans competition awards at Horsham college

Darby Lyons, Dame Julie Walters, Chloe Marsh and Charlotte Williams (front row) with Collyer's principal Sally Bromley and Samaritans' Kevin Hawkes. Picture: Ian McAlister
Darby Lyons, Dame Julie Walters, Chloe Marsh and Charlotte Williams (front row) with Collyer's principal Sally Bromley and Samaritans' Kevin Hawkes. Picture: Ian McAlister

Harry Potter and Mamma Mia star Dame Julie Walters visited a Horsham college to present awards to the winners of the Samaritans Christmas card competition 2019.

The actress, who is patron of the Horsham and Crawley Samaritans, awarded the winners whose entries are now being used as the Samaritans Christmas card design for this year, available at local charity venues and Horsham Museum’s Charity Christmas card shop.

Students Darby Lyons, Chloe Marsh, Nick McArthur and double prize winner Charlotte Williams received their prizes, kindly donated by Seawhite, with Jamie McArthur thrilled to accept the prize on behalf of his brother Nick.

Collyer’s Principal, Sally Bromley, said: “Within the Collyer’s community the Samaritans charity is really close to our hearts and we are privileged to have such a special relationship with them.

“Massive thanks to Julie for coming to visit us today to present the awards to Charlotte, Chloe, Darby and Nick for their fantastic Christmas card designs. Everyone should go and buy some!”

The original winning designs were judged by a panel comprising Samaritans’ Kevin Hawkes, Sue Jago, Caroline Thomas and Jo Willis, with artists John Connolly and Yvonne Sillett, alongside Anna Carter of Seawhite.

Kevin Hawkes, director of Horsham Samaritans, acknowledged the timely work the Samaritans are doing in a world increasingly aware of the necessity for good mental health. He commented on the difficulty of choosing just five images to represent the Samaritans and applauded the students and the art department for their willingness to participate in making a positive contribution to their community.

Susie McAlister, head of art and design at Collyer’s, organised the event and introduced young artists Jasmine Dilloway and Ellie Rogers, who performed a short presentation that highlighted the work that the Samaritans do every day.

They explained that on any given year, the charity will answer five million calls for help, 20,000 volunteers will give their time, with 17,000 trained as listeners and over 2,000 volunteers running 201 branches.

Susie McAlister said: “Mental health and wellbeing is an issue which effects our whole society and something our young people are particularly aware of.

“The Samaritans give our young artists an opportunity to raise money for a cause they feel helps everyone in our local area, irrespective of age, political agenda or personal circumstances, remembering that Christmas can be a lonely and isolating time of year for some. The Art department and the college are pleased to be a small part of the contribution they make to the local community.”

The Collyer’s students began designing the cards during the summer term, so to create a seasonal feel their teachers adorned the studios with tinsel and even played Christmas music while fans cooled the art rooms down.

Ian McAlister, Director of HE and Progression at Collyer’s, and who teaches art at college, said: “It certainly takes a lot of imagination to get excited about Christmas in July, but this is all part of teaching students how a professional brief works!”

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