And so, although the prize winners were announced some time ago it’s now time to formally present some of those over-sized cheques. Rachel’s up first, thankful no doubt that she is not expected to say anything. She poses with her cheque and is off. Next is Mara who’s a winner with the Edge Training Kitchen; Sean’s Upcycling idea is about taking recycling to the next level; Jade and Victoria from Juicy Theatre seem overwhelmed with their presentation, both with matching, beaming smiles.
After only three days in Brixham, I have been fortunate to have heard some inspiring stories and when Mark and his son Aryden grasp their cheque and each other I can see in Mark’s eyes just how much this moment means to him. Their project is much more than leek and potato soup with careers advice.
Finally the Berserkers consume the small stage as they all troop up together to collect their prize. Never one to miss an opportunity I’m sure, Casey takes the microphone and adds his own vote of thanks to YES, to the judges, to the community.
There are certificates and a photo opportunity too for those who didn’t make the top six. Not everyone is represented and, although I know Laura is here somewhere taking pictures, I notice that neither she nor Ntembe step forward to get certificates. I guess Laura is more comfortable behind her camera than in front of mine.
Next, and most appropriately, someone steps up to make a speech about Chris from YES. As a victim of the ‘cuts’, Chris is being made redundant from Torbay Council’s Youth Service and so her tenure at The Edge – as a paid worker by the council at least – is coming to an end. We hear how much Chris has done over the years for this community, for this town’s young people. As the adoration continues I realise someone hasn’t shown up tonight. Becky should be hearing this. A few hours earlier I saw her getting ready and leave her flat, taking Erin May to her mother’s. She should be on her feet now with the rest of them, in amongst the standing ovation. I know she’d be singing For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow at the top of her voice, if she were here. Something – another crisis maybe – has kept her away.
And so the Brix Awards come to their conclusion: the presentation of the Brix – or gold-sprayed building bricks tied with red ribbon – to those in the community who have inspired, encouraged or generally done well by local young people. The winners have been kept secret until now and so Tanny is delighted when hers is one of the names called out to step forward and receive her ‘playful brick’ for her ceaseless commitment to children and the importance of play in young lives.
As the evening draws to an end – it’s been nearly four hours since Rhianan and I stepped through the French windows – it has felt as if a town’s anxieties and insecurities have been put on hold, shelved until at least tomorrow morning when the work of supporting this community continues.