New-Bridge pupils win £500 for school at annual Carson Awards

Tony Carson with Amy White and Martina Florek of Newbridge College.
Tony Carson with Amy White and Martina Florek of Newbridge College.

Integrated school pupils were awarded recently for their creative efforts at the ninth annual Carson

Awards - and New-Bridge College in Loughbrickland hosted the event.

Tony Carson with Newbridge College student Max Sproule.

Tony Carson with Newbridge College student Max Sproule.

The awards scheme is a charity event set up by the late Frank Carson and his son, Tony, for the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).

The event saw Frank’s son, hospitality maestro Tony, actor Adrian Dunbar and playwright and actor Dan Gordon taward he winners a £500 cash fund for their schools.

And among the prizewinners, who displayed creative talent in artistically demonstrating this year’s

theme ‘What Integrated Education Means to Me’ through art, words and film, was New-Bridge Integrated College’s Year 10 and pupil Max Sproule for their ‘BBC News Report’ video and ‘Pen Sketch of Max and his

Girlfriend’ art project.

Speaking about the yearly event which raises money for the Integrated Education Fund, a charity

that sets out to bridge the gap between government funding of integrated schools here, Tony

Carson said: “My dad and I always did what we could to support the great work of the IEF including

the Carson Awards which gives out bursaries to help pupils deliver these programmes.

“We set up this event which is an artistic challenge so that pupils can interpret in their own way,

what integrated education means to them.

“It helps kids on their art journey but at the same time we’ve found that the use of art so strong and powerful and it helps to get the message out about how positively integrated education impacts on children.”

Dan Gordon, who is presently acting in his own one-man show a’Rebel Without a Pause’ about his idol Frank Carson at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, added: “The over-arching theme at the Carson Awards this

year is that we need to care more.

“We need to care about the environment, about our young people and we need to care about each other.

“To date the IEF has raised £20 million and now 22,000 children attend integrated schools across

the country.

“That’s a pretty handsome achievement. This year’s event was a very vibrant mixture of people, places and things.”

Supporting the event by flying into Northern Ireland for the day, Line of Duty star, Adrian Dunbar said:

“Ultimately having two education systems in a place as small as Northern Ireland is the elephant in the room.

“For me I always wondered how come we spend millions and millions of pounds separating

children at the age of five to then spend millions trying to tell them that they were the same at the

age of 16.

“There are thousands of organisations who are funded to try to bring children together when actually all that money could be going into an integrated education system.

“The people involved in these schools are really sincere and have the children’s future in mind and

this event shows that these children have a more balanced view of society and what they can bring

to society.”

IEF Chair, Baroness May Blood added: “The Carson Awards are a tremendous opportunity for

students at integrated schools to develop and showcase their artistic talents under the theme of

‘integration’.

“We are indebted to Tony Carson for his continued support for the programme, which is a fitting legacy to his father, Frank. The creativity and talents on display are very impressive and a credit to the schools involved.”

The Integrated Education Fund is the charity which provides financial support for the development and growth of integrated education in Northern Ireland.

It was set up in 1992 to address the absence of capital funding, as well as the other unmet financial needs of integrated schools.

There are 65 formally integrated schools in Northern Ireland which are attended by over 23,000

children.

This year the IEF celebrated 25 years of raising funds for integrated education to the tune of £20

million.