Last ever Pompey stars awarded

PRIZES Max Hart, eight, Martha Parkes, nine, Ruby Jewell, nine, Emily Pollitt, 10, Teegan Dury, 11, Mia Simmons, 11 and Joe Brennan, 10 from Craneswater School.     Picture: Allan Hutchings (112148-949)
PRIZES Max Hart, eight, Martha Parkes, nine, Ruby Jewell, nine, Emily Pollitt, 10, Teegan Dury, 11, Mia Simmons, 11 and Joe Brennan, 10 from Craneswater School. Picture: Allan Hutchings (112148-949)
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TRIUMPH was tinged with sadness when the last ever Pompey Stars awards took place.

The scheme, which was in its ninth year, worked with hundreds of youngsters across the city.

It encouraged children aged six to 16 to take part in after-school activities, make friends and build confidence.

They were introduced to yoga, survival skills, water confidence, kayaking, gardening, cooking and sculpting.

And the final awards night took place at the Victory Bar, at Fratton Park recognising children for the number of hours they have put into the scheme.

Ruby Jewell, nine, has been taking part in Pompey Stars for almost three years and was given a gold award for putting in 120 hours.

She said: ‘I loved going to it because I made lots of friends. I can’t believe it’s over and I wish it wasn’t.

‘I had mixed feelings at the awards.

‘I was happy to get one, but sad it was the last one.’

Her mother Kara Jewell, 29, of Bill Sargent Crescent, Fratton, spoke in support of Pompey Stars.

She said: ‘The scheme was absolutely brilliant and I’m quite disappointed that it’s closed.

‘It’s one of the few schemes around that had so many opportunities for children.’

Around 9,000 children have taken part in the scheme since it began in 2002.

It was first called Portsmouth Children’s University.

It was run by Portsmouth City Council from the Pompey Study Centre and was funded directly from central government.

But it was hit by budget cuts unveiled by the coalition government last year.

And despite efforts to raise the £120,000 it costs to run each year, the amount was never achieved.

Four full-time positions and around 150 casual posts have been lost. Manager Jo Valentine said: ‘I want to thank all the staff, parents and most importantly, children that have taken part.

‘It’s cheesy but I like to think “don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it’s happened”.’

Liberal Democrat councillor Terry Hall has always backed the scheme.

She said: ‘The council had to make some very difficult decisions about what projects they could support and it was disappointing this one couldn’t be.

‘But I hope it will be resurrected in the near future because it does provide wonderful opportunities for children.

‘The awards evening was brilliant.’