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The three finalists for this year’s Albion in the Community Award have been decided.

Albion in the Community’s (AITC) online poll attracted more than 2,000 votes – almost double the number received last season.

Fans were asked to vote for who they wanted to win the award from a list of 11 nominees who were put forward by AITC staff from among the 30,000 people the charity has worked with in the last 12 months.

And following a busy week of voting, AITC can confirm the three...

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Top three announced after Albion in the Community receives more than 2,000 votes

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The three finalists for this year’s Albion in the Community Award have been decided.

Albion in the Community’s (AITC) online poll attracted more than 2,000 votes – almost double the number received last season.

Fans were asked to vote for who they wanted to win the award from a list of 11 nominees who were put forward by AITC staff from among the 30,000 people the charity has worked with in the last 12 months.

And following a busy week of voting, AITC can confirm the three nominees who received the most votes were Chris North, the Varndean School Premier League Enterprise team, and Tate Willis (listed in alphabetical order).

The overall winner will be revealed at Brighton & Hove Albion’s end of season players’ award and will be the nominee who received the highest number of votes in the original poll.

Matt Dorn, AITC’s chief executive officer, was full of praise for everyone who made the short-list.

He said: “Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and particularly Chris, the team from Varndean and Tate for making our final three.

“We received around twice as many votes as we did last season and it was great to see so much interest in our award. Hopefully everyone who voted will now have a greater understanding of the wide range of work we do as a charity, not to mention the fantastic achievements of the people we work with.

“Thank you to everyone who voted and good luck to the three finalists.”

Details of the three finalists – and why they were nominated – appear below (again, listed in alphabetical order):

Chris North: Chris is one of AITC’s most-committed fundraisers. He has taken part in every single European cycle challenge that the charity has run – clocking up more than 645 miles in the process. He has also taken part in a number of other fundraising events to support the charity, including encouraging the company he works for to support the annual quiz night. And he isn’t finished yet. Chris is one of a number of cyclists heading to Cologne later this year to raise money for AITC.

Emma Brockhurst, AITC’s fundraising events executive, nominated Chris. She said: “As a charity fundraising is an important part of what we do and I am always overwhelmed by the support we receive. Chris is a fantastic example of the lengths to which our fundraisers go to support our work. If it wasn’t for people like Chris, we simply would not be able to offer opportunities to the number of people we do.”

Varndean Premier League Enterprise Challenge team: Bridley, Ellie, Freya and Otis are all pupils at Varndean School who have taken part in AITC’s Premier League Enterprise Challenge. Despite having never worked together before, the year nine students were teamed up for the competition, which challenges young people who may need additional support engaging with school to come up with a business idea for a football club. Not only did their idea – which was pitched to senior members of staff at AITC and Brighton & Hove Albion – win the local stage, they also won the regional heat against school teams representing other football clubs and will now take part in the national final. Their idea is also being considered by the club.

The Varndean team was nominated by Rob Josephs, curriculum development officer at AITC, who said: “Bridley, Ellie, Freya and Otis have all done superbly to overcome their own personal challenges and reach the national final.

“It has been great to see how much they have grown in confidence and maturity since first getting involved with the challenge.”

Tate Willis: Tate began attending AITC’s junior amputee session earlier this season and has already impressed her coaches with her skill and commitment. Tate always wanted to play football but had struggled in a mainstream environment. Earlier this year, when asked what she wanted for her birthday, Tate answered simply: a football team to play for. Having found one at AITC she has thrived and is now also a regular at the charity’s inclusive session for people with a disability that takes place fortnightly in Eastbourne, and at its regular elite sessions for junior players with a disability.

Tate was nominated for the Albion in the Community Award by Phil Broom, AITC’s disability development clubs officer, who said: “Tate has a real passion for football and it is brilliant to see her progressing so well at our sessions. It is an absolute pleasure to coach someone so keen to learn and develop their football skills. The progress she has made in a relatively short space of time has been amazing. The combination of her natural ability, passion and determination is fantastic.”