Ain’t no mountain high enough to stop the Urban Vocal Group at The Guide Awards

Urban Vocal Group co-founders Charlie Fletcher and Amba Tremain (centre) and other members with Cllr Linda Symes and Chris Broom, entertainments editor of The News    Picture: Keith Woodland
Urban Vocal Group co-founders Charlie Fletcher and Amba Tremain (centre) and other members with Cllr Linda Symes and Chris Broom, entertainments editor of The News Picture: Keith Woodland
Lily Garland's mother sheds a tear during her daughters acceptance speech for Best Solo Act.  Picture: Keith Woodland

WATCH: Video of all The Guide Awards winners

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  • Community choir UVG wins special achievement award
  • Thirteen other awards were presented to the best in local arts
  • Music, stage, cinema, comedy and art were represented
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IT started a decade ago with just eight people at the first session.

But since then the Urban Vocal Group (UVG) has helped hundreds of young people gain confidence through music.

And now the group has been honoured at The Guide Awards with the Special Achievement trophy.

The awards ceremony took place last night at a packed-out New Theatre Royal in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, celebrating the best of arts and entertainment from across the region.

Readers voted in their thousands for 13 awards, ranging from music to theatre, film and comedy. The 14th, Special Achievement, was chosen by The News.

Dozens of members of the UVG flooded into the auditorium at the evening’s climax as they performed a flashmob rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror and the soul classic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, not knowing that they would be receiving the final award of the night.

The group was started in Havant by Charlie Fletcher and Amba Tremain, with a particular focus on working in disadvantaged areas with young people aged 11 to 18.

It has since expanded into Portsmouth and has started an adult choir that helps to fund the free youth section.

The group’s performances have become a regular part of many events and earlier this month they performed their own biggest headline show at Portsmouth Guildhall.

The award was sponsored by Portsmouth City Council and presented by Cllr Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport.

Amba said: ‘I’ve been playing the interlude music on stage all night and it’s been really lovely to see some friends get up and accept awards and see everyone else who was involved.

‘This has totally caught me off guard.’

Charlie added: ‘This was so unexpected.

‘I’ll tell you what it’s about for me. Tonight we did a session in Havant and because Amba couldn’t make it as she was here all evening, one of our young people who’s been with us since she was 12, Evie, said ‘‘I’ll do it’’.

‘This 17-year-old young lady got up there and led a group of 25, first time.

‘That’s what it’s about. When you see that confidence you think yes, job done.’

The night was hosted by home-grown West End star Jack Edwards and the main sponsor was estate agent Fry and Kent.

There was also music from former The Guide Award winner Marley Blandford and thought-provoking poetry from Majid Dhana and Natalia Michalska.

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said: ‘It was a fantastic night and congratulations to all of our very deserving nominees and winners.

‘Special congratulations to the UVG – they thoroughly deserve all of the plaudits that have come their way recently.

‘And to see so many people come along to the awards is testament to the importance of the arts in our communities.

‘We look forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 brings so we can celebrate it at next year’s awards.’

Watch a video of all the winners here.

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The winners in full

Best Comedy

Winner: Joe Wells

Runner-up: Mike Cox

Best Film

Winner: Black Dog, director Mark Oakley

Runner-up: Last Night, director Riyadh Haque and John McGinty

Best Professional Production

Winner: Woman In Black, NTR

Runner-up: Our House, The Kings

Best Amateur Production

Winner: Hound of The Baskervilles by Torchlight Theatre at NTR

Runner-up: Death of a Salesman by Bench at The Spring

Best Event

Winner: Icebreaker Festival

Runner-up: Wickham Festival

Best Solo Act

Winner: Lily Garland

Runner-up: Devin-Jade

Best Amateur Actor

Winner: Sean Ridley in Farm Boy by CCADS

Runner-up: Mike Gondelle in Brimstone and Treacle by HumDrum at The Spring

Best Amateur Musical

Winner: The Wizard of Oz by Portsmouth Players at the Kings

Runner-up: Pirates of Penzance by UPMDS at NTR

Best Classical

Winner: University of Portsmouth Music Department

Runner-up: The Renaissance Choir

Best Visual Artist

Winner: M-one

Runner-up: Majid Dhana & Natalia Michalska

Best DJ

Winner: Banksy

Runner-up: Liz Cornick

Best Amateur Actress

Winner: Leigh Cunningham in Equus by Bench at The Spring

Runner-up: Emma Van Kooperen in in Brimstone and Treacle by HumDrum at The Spring

Best Band

Winner: Bemis

Runner-up: Emptifish

Special Achievement

Urban Vocal Group