Published: Jun 14, 2012
LIPA music student and outreach teacher Ben Brown is celebrating after receiving an accolade for his contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and their legacy.
Ben was presented with the gold medal in the Be a Champion category (for successful student-led activities) at the Podium Awards.
It was given for his work with The Balloons Project, a scheme he launched three years ago which has used the seven Olympic and Paralympic values and the performing arts to engage with young people in the North-West.
The Podium Awards were established to recognise the vital contribution colleges and universities across the UK have played in delivering the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
One of 230 nominated schemes, The Balloons Project grew out of a motivational song the 26-year-old wrote as a class assignment as part of his studies at LIPA. Ben now collaborates with local young people who, with the support of LIPA volunteers, develop and perform original songs inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic values.
Ben, a final year BA (Hons) Music degree student, collected the award from the President of the National Union of Students (NUS), Ed Marsh, and London 2012’s Director of Ceremonies, Education and Live Sites, Bill Morris.
Ben said: “We’re absolutely over the moon at receiving the gold medal from Podium! It’s the ultimate recognition of all the work that we’ve been doing at LIPA over the last three years and we feel hugely privileged to have been chosen out of so many amazing projects.
“At the awards evening, it was also inspiring to see what is going on all over the country as a result of London 2012. It’s an honour to feel part of it all and especially to have been down in London flying the flag for Liverpool and the North-West."
LIPA has given money to the project. However, Mark Featherstone-Witty, the CEO/Founding Principal of the institute, said all credit goes to Ben and the volunteers: “It’s entirely down to Ben’s commitment and his team. Easy to give a bit of money, much harder to carry the project through to this sterling finish.”
Among those present at the London awards ceremony were Paul Deighton, CEO of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and Xavier Gonzalez, Chief Executive of the International Paralympic Committee.
Paul said: “Colleges and Universities have played an integral role in supporting London 2012. I congratulate all involved with Balloons on winning a gold medal at the Podium Awards. Balloons is a tremendous example of how the power of the Games is being used to inspire people to make a real and lasting difference.”
Balloons Project volunteer Lauren Catherall commented: “Being able to communicate the values of the Games to such a wide audience really means so much to us and the Balloons team, and it’s great to be here tonight and to receive this recognition from Podium and London 2012.”
Charlotte Andrew, also a Balloons Project volunteer, said: “Over the last three years it’s been so rewarding to know we are making a difference. You can see it with the young people we work with, how the power of music and the arts can have such a positive effect on people’s lives.”
The black tie ceremony was held at venue Forman's Fish Island, next to the Olympic Stadium. The projects recognised at the Podium Awards are involved in areas such as education, research, sport, culture, volunteering and international collaboration.
Ben is also a London 2012 Future Flames Ambassador with the NUS and, for his Balloons work, a 2012 Olympics Inspire Mark holder. He will be carrying the Olympic flame when it comes to Southport in June.
From left, London 2012’s Director of Ceremonies, Education and Live Sites Bill Morris, Balloons Project founder Ben Brown, Balloons Project volunteers Charlotte Andrew and Lauren Catherall, and NUS President Ed Marsh