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Grandfather lands award thanks to chess-based youthwork

A grandfather who uses his love of chess to connect with young people in Portsmouth has scooped a top award at the Christian Youth Work Awards ...

A grandfather who uses his love of chess to connect with young people in Portsmouth has scooped a top award at the Christian Youth Work Awards.

David Stemp, 75, was named joint winner of the Volunteer of the Year award at the ceremony held in London.

David said: “I was surprised and quite proud to be nominated and then when I heard my name read out at the ceremony, I did a double take. I couldn’t quite believe that I had won.

“I feel proud and quite humbled to have won such an award.”

The other winner was 18-year-old Rose Greensmith from Wanstead.

The award recognises David’s voluntary work at the Charter Academy Breakfast Club in Southsea where he teaches and plays chess once a week.

David has volunteered for the project, run by the Portsmouth Deanery Youth Work Project, for six years. In the last year he has also started teaching and playing chess at Portsmouth Academy for Girls in Fratton.

David said: “Chess is a great passion of mine. I find working with young people through the medium of chess very rewarding and worthwhile.

“I can use a game of chess in two ways – as a challenge and as a bridge. When I am playing, I am really seeing the person in front of me, not the game. It is about creating an environment where the young person feels safe to be able to talk about anything that is bothering them or about their hopes and aspirations for the future.

“Playing chess is merely a tool for engagement. You could use something other than chess to achieve the same effect of being able to sit and get to know someone."  

David was nominated by Ben Mizen, the youth and children’s work adviser for Portsmouth Anglican Diocese.

Ben said: “David is the most consistent team member and he brings a mature perspective that the young people love.

“His youth work is beautiful - he teaches and plays chess with young people over breakfast - it embodies participation, respect and fun. It is wonderful to watch.  

“He is a shining example of how good senior figures can be in a youth work setting.”

The Christian Youth Work Awards recognise excellence in church-based and other Christian youth work, and are judged by a panel of youth work experts, from a pool of public nominations.

David also teaches and plays chess with pupils at Langstone Junior School in Copnor.

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