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It is that time of year again when Brighton & Hove Albion fans are being asked to vote for who they think should win the annual Albion in the Community Award.

Each season Albion in the Community (AITC) nominates 11 people from across its programmes that deserve special recognition.

Fans are then asked to vote for the person they think most deserves to win the Albion in the Community Award.

Voting will run until Saturday 3 March and the winner will be announced at the club’s end...

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Vote for who you want to win the 2018 Albion in the Community Award

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It is that time of year again when Brighton & Hove Albion fans are being asked to vote for who they think should win the annual Albion in the Community Award.

Each season Albion in the Community (AITC) nominates 11 people from across its programmes that deserve special recognition.

Fans are then asked to vote for the person they think most deserves to win the Albion in the Community Award.

Voting will run until Saturday 3 March and the winner will be announced at the club’s end of season players’ awards.

(Please note: voting has now closed, as of 2pm on Saturday 3 March).

Last year AITC received more than 1,000 votes, with Callum Ronald from the charity’s football and further education programme named overall winner.

Matt Dorn, chief executive at AITC, said: “Each year we work with around 30,000 people so it is always incredibly difficult to choose a short-list of just 11 names.

“We run 60 different programmes and hopefully our finalists illustrate not only the wide variety of work that we do throughout Sussex but also the amazing dedication and passion shown by the people we work with.

“Any of our nominees would be worthy winners and they should all be incredibly proud to be short-listed.”

The full list of nominees – and why they were short-listed – can be found below:

Cadogan Guy: Cadogan is a pupil at Coombe Road Primary School who takes part in AITC’s Premier League Primary Stars programme. Cadogan initially struggled at school but has worked incredibly hard and his teachers and parents have noticed a real change in him. Cadogan featured in a recent video produced by the Premier League showcasing the impact Premier League Primary Stars is having, in which his dad said: “I can’t express enough what a different child he is. When he is happy he communicates and he interacts with everybody and that’s all down to the school and down to working with AITC – it’s fantastic. It has changed his life.”

Cadogan was nominated by Carly Farrell, sports mentor at AITC, who said: “It’s been a real pleasure to work with Cadogan over the past term and see him grow in confidence and develop his social and emotional resilience. He is a great example of what we’re trying to achieve through Premier League Primary Stars – using football to make a difference to the lives of local school children.”

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.”

Ken Radmall: Ken is a season ticket holder who attended AITC’s Shape Up at the Stadium course in September last year. Ken was one of the most focused participants and fully took on board the lifestyle advice he was given. He lost over a stone in weight during the programme and inspired and supported others to achieve similar. Most of all Ken wanted to help spread the word about the merits of the programme. He was interviewed on the pitch at half-time and his enthusiasm resulted in the next programme being fully booked, with a waiting list in operation for the first time ever. He is still continuing to lose weight and sharing the information he gained with others.

Evie Cicha works for AITC’s health team and nominated Ken. She said: “Ken really engaged with our Shape Up programme. He was very helpful at motivating others within the group and the leading example to follow; losing over a stone in weight by following the lifestyle advice given. Ken didn’t think twice when I asked him to speak in front of 30,000 people at the Amex and his enthusiasm and encouraging words inspired many of our supporters to get healthy and become more active and helped us fill up our last-ever Shape Up at the Stadium group.”

Darren Moses: Darren is 13 and has been a regular at the Premier League Kicks Sessions in Whitehawk since 2010. In the summer of 2016, Darren was diagnosed with cancer in his stomach and has since undergone extensive treatment in both London and America. Despite this, Darren has continued to attend his Premier League Kicks sessions where possible, despite understandably often not feeling his best. His behaviour and positive attitude when at his Premier League Kicks sessions has always been fantastic and this didn’t change. He has continued to display his unique sense of humour and always remained outgoing and upbeat with a smile on his face.

Martin Schooley, AITC’s inclusion manager, nominated Darren. He said: “Darren has demonstrated real bravery towards his circumstances and has been an inspiration to everyone on the session and in his neighbourhood. He is always smiling, positive and is a great example of someone determined to not let a difficult situation get the better of him.”

Louis Potter-Jones: Louis has been involved with AITC for a number of years and is currently taking part in the charity’s NEET (not in employment, education or training) intervention programme.

He suffers from serious anxiety but by working with AITC has developed coping strategies. He also plays for Brighton & Hove Albion Cerebral Palsy FC and helps coach at some of AITC’s regular sessions for people with a disability. An illustration of how his resilience has developed is the fact that he was confident enough to attend trials for England. He has also started working at the stadium on matchdays.

Mike Elkins, AITC’s NEET programme advisor, nominated Louis. He said: “Louis has overcome huge challenges to be in the position he is today. From refusing to leave his house to attend sessions, Louis is now an FA Level 2 qualified football coach, working for AITC and as a steward on matchdays.

“Louis is a very impressive young man who has overcome considerable adversity. He has represented AITC fantastically for a number of years both on and off the pitch and is always positive and keen to help others overcome barriers.”

James Coupland: James left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications, initially finding work as a landscape gardener. However, he later became unemployed and experienced a period of homelessness after separating from his partner and mother of his young son. He spent time in a hostel and lost access to his son, which contributed to feelings of depression and led to issues around mental health and substance addiction.

While staying in the hostel, a fellow resident suggested he attend Albion Goals, AITC’s adult inclusion programme that pairs regular free football with lifestyle support and mentoring. He began attending sessions in October 2016 and his involvement with AITC and determination to turn his life around has seen James make significant changes. In February last year, he attended a two-day job workshop with AITC’s further education team and subsequently completed a Sports Leadership Level 2 course with the charity. He has since completed a Level 2 NVQ in Spectator Safety and is now employed on a casual basis on matchdays. He also has joint custody of his son. James is a regular at AITC’s mental wellbeing football sessions and has begun playing competitively with the charity.

In his own words: “When I first started working with AITC I was homeless, still using drugs and didn’t know where life was going. Now I am clean, housed and have a job.”

James was nominated by Rebecca Collins, AITC’s further education manager. She said: “James is an incredibly hard working individual who never gives up and has really seized the opportunities we have provided him to improve both his life and work prospects. Everyone who works with James is always complimentary about his attitude and professionalism.”

Tom Kent: Tom is player and volunteer coach with Brighton & Hove Albion Deaf FC, one of a number of disability-specific sides run by AITC that compete in national competitions. He has fully embraced the chance to represent the charity on the pitch and spends many hours planning training sessions, liaising with AITC and recruiting new players for the team. As a key figure within the squad, Tom also makes sure any new players are welcomed into the group. As an art teacher at Hamilton Lodge school, Tom is always keen to promote AITC’s programmes – particularly those aimed at people with a disability – and he is one of the most-passionate advocates for both the charity and the benefits that playing regular sport can provide.

He was nominated by Paul Brackley, AITC’s disability manager, who said: “Brighton & Hove Albion Deaf FC are one of our newest teams and Tom has been instrumental to the success of the team both on and off the pitch.

“He is a real champion of our work and one of our most popular players. Enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate, Tom is a genuine team player who works incredibly hard for the benefit of his teammates.”

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.”

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.”

Isabelle Stray: Isabelle joined one of AITC’s regular after school clubs as a way of making new friends after starting at a new school. It worked – and not only that, but Isabelle soon discovered she had a real talent for the game. She attended a free girls-only football day held by AITC at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre and then began attending AITC’s advanced centre where she benefited from expert coaching. Fast forward a matter of months and Isabelle was invited to join the girls’ FA Regional Talent Club. Her mum says that not only has Isabelle’s time with AITC improved her skills and grown her love of football, but it has also boosted her confidence.

Isabelle was nominated by Miles Sturt, AITC’s women and girls’ development officer, who said: “To go from never having played for a team to where she is now in less than nine months is amazing and Isabelle deserves fantastic credit. She is a great example of the opportunities available to participants at our girls’ football centres. She has worked hard, but always with a smile on her face, and her confidence and abilities blossomed in the time she was with us.

“She should be very proud of her progress.”

Rob Hinds: Rob is one of a number of American Express employees who volunteer with AITC as part of the company’s volunteer programme that is delivered in Sussex by the charity. A regular at AITC sessions since he started working with Amex, Rob is one of AITC’s most-dedicated and passionate volunteers. Incredibly popular with AITC’s beneficiaries, Rob brings an almost-unrivalled energy and enthusiasm to every volunteering opportunity he takes part in.

Emma Cook, AITC’s fundraising manager, nominated Rob. She said: “We are incredibly fortunate in that we benefit from fantastic support from American Express and its staff. Rob is a superb example of someone who gives up their time to engage with our work. Rob is a real champion of our work – enthusiastically encouraging colleagues to get involved with our volunteering opportunities. He also provides excellent professional support to the charity, using his professional expertise to help evaluate our programmes and shape future delivery. Rob is a perfect example of the huge benefits that our relationship with American Express provides AITC.”