Community Manager
31 Oct, 2021
2021 Keep It 100 Youth Award Winners Announced

Photography by Freya Lees, HotBox Chelmsford © Keep It 100 2021

Last week saw the inaugural Keep It 100 Youth Awards take place at the HotBox music venue in Chelmsford. This was launched to secure a legacy to the city’s recent Knife Angel visit and to recognise the incredible creative talent of young people in Essex while celebrating positive youth culture.

“As we come out of a pandemic that has taken a serious toll on the well-being of our children, there is an urgent need to create new alternative pathways for young people. We need to enable them to connect and make positive, constructive contributions to society,” said founder of Keep It 100, Luisa Dimarco.

Singer Songwriter Award Nominee, Katy For Kings

Singer Songwriter Award Nominee, Katy For Kings

There are 8 categories all together – 6 of which were announced on the night. With over 1000 votes in total, the Keep It 100 team and partners were overwhelmed with the level of talent, and totally heartened by the sheer volume public interest.

Marc De’ath, Cultural Services Manager at Chelmsford City Council, added, “Our city’s Shared Cultural Vision, Towards 2040, sets out a priority to ‘increase opportunities for young people’. As a local authority, we believe that every child should have equal access to explore their creativity; whether that be using these skills to find an identity and express themselves or pursue a career in the industry. This is why we support Luisa’s vision for Keep It 100.”

Keep it 100 put out an open call for nominations in August 2021, and after a process of shortlisting, hosted a public vote with support of Andy Poole, Founder of the Panic Awards.

Nominee Singer Songwriter, Viola

Nominee Singer Songwriter, Viola

Every winner will be mentored by an industry professional who will share their experience and help each young person consider how to best utilise their creative flair.

Denholm Ellis, Lead Promoter at the HotBox explained. “As a venue, as well as putting on the cream of the established crop, it is important for us to help and invest in our future talent. We were only too pleased to host the first awards and hope to continue our support to nuture help them grow year on year. We’ve already asked some of the nominees to come back and play!”


Firstly, the Photographer Award – a young person behind the camera who the community feel has an incredible eye for composition and capturing that moment behind the lens.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Mauro Carraro, a photographer who has worked for the Times Newspaper and has photographed many famous people, from Lady Diana to the Sex Pistols.

The nominees for the Photographer Category were…

  1. Freya Lees
  2. Mohammed Akbar
  3. Luke Coen

The Winner, voted by the public, was Freya Lees.

Freya Lees, Winner of the Photography Category

Freya Lees, Winner of the Photography Category


Secondly, the Beatmaker Award. Someone working in Music Production, either producing their own work or supporting others to make and refine theirs.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Tony Byrn who has worked to promote international nubber 1 hits on radio and TV such as Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, General Levy – Incredible, Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy and LMC V U2 – Take Me To The Clouds Above to name just a few.

The nominees for the Beatmaker Category were…

  • Tommy Butler
  • Jon Hughes
  • Jonathan Salami

The Winner, voted by the public, was Jon Hughes.

Jon Hughes, Winner of the Beatmaker Category

Jon Hughes, Winner of the Beatmaker Category


The ceremony then moved on to the DJ Award – behind the decks or behind the desk. Making people dance or getting them to tune into a radio show.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Grooverider, a legend from the world of Drum n Bass, with many years behind the decks at anything from illegal warehouse parties to huge outdoor festivals and previously radio shows on Kiss FM and now Radio 1.

The nominees for the DJ Category were…

  1. Ben Collinson
  2. Cameron Woodberry
  3. Abbey Hall

The Winner, voted by the public, was Ben Collinson.

Ben Collinson, Winner of the DJ Category

Ben Collinson, Winner of the DJ Category


The fourth category, the Lyricist Award, was set up to recognise the talent of an Essex based lyricist. Someone who has a way with words that can stop audiences in their tracks and make us really think.

The winner of this category will be mentored by MC Bushkin of Heartless Crew who have been credited for paving the way for grime music, alongside So Solid Crew and Pay As U Go. Bushkin is also an A G.R.M Daily Legend Award winner and BBC 1xtra presenter.

The nominees for the Lyricist Category were…

  1. Nathan Mortimer (SafeNath)
  2. Oscar Meades
  3. Skye Sullivan

The Winner, voted by the public, was Oscar Meades.


Next is the Singer Songwriter Award. Essex is full to the brim with musical talent, from Southend and Colchester, to Harlow and Harwich – some of them performed on the night.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Joy Malcolm. Bassment Jaxx’s front-woman and artist who completed three world tours with Moby. Joy has had her work used in everything from America’s Got Talent through to The Bourne Ultimatum, and recently the Elton John biopic Rocket Man. She was also worked with artists such as Grace Jones, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Roy Ayers, Roxy Music and Dianne Reeves, to name a few.

The nominees for the Singer Songwriter Category were…

  1. Holly Heard
  2. Liv Lawrence
  3. Katy For Kings
  4. Viola

The Winner, voted by the public, was Katy For Kings.

Katy For Kings, Winner of the Singer Songwriter Category

Katy For Kings, Winner of the Singer Songwriter Category


So far, the categories had covered words, photos, beats and DJs – next the ceremony moved on to the visual, with the Artist Award.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Alfie Bradley who has created many impressive sculptures – a Rhino’s Head which sits in the foyer of DEFRA in London, to the internationally famous Spoon Gorilla, a 4m high sculpture built from 40,000 welded spoons for the famous spoon-bender Uri Geller.

After completing the gorilla, Alfie had a light-bulb moment and came up with the idea for his current artwork, Knife Angel, that recently visited Chelmsford. A 27ft high sculpture made of over 100,000 weapons surrendered to amnesty knife bins around the country, it is currently on a city tour of the UK.

The nominees for the Artist Category were…

  1. Francesca Bleahy
  2. Christine Mulcahy
  3. Courtney Mayers
  4. Sam Wright

The Winner, voted by the public, was Courtney Mayers.


The final category – the Outstanding Contribution Award, is one that Keep It 100 Founder, Luisa Di Marco envisioned and defined in partnership with Clive Knowles, Chairman of the British Iron Works. Set up to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary contribution to the Essex community by a young person.

The winner of this category will be mentored by Clive Knowles, Luisa Di Marco and Marc De’ath who, between them, have a huge amount of experience delivering projects to drive positive social change.

The nominees for the Outstanding Contribution Award Category were…

  1. Clean Up Chelmsford (Edd, Luke, Alfie & Chloe)
  2. George Mayhew
  3. Amber Hood (Fundraising in Essex)

The Winner, voted by the public, was Amber Hood.


Nominee, Singer Songwriter Category Viv Lawrence

Nominee, Singer Songwriter Category Viv Lawrence

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. We look forward to seeing what you achieve with the support of your mentors – and will follow and share any progress.

Keep It 100 invite all the runners-up to stay part of their creative community. Luisa and her team will announce the remaining 2 categories, best Entrepreneur and Filmmaker on Friday 5th November. Follow Keep It 100 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to be the first to hear the results.

Keep It 100 would like to thank the Award Partners for all their support. Chelmsford City Theatre, Hotbox, Panic Awards and Chelmsford Community Radio as well as all the Mentors for giving up their time.

If you are a mentor, partner or funder who shares in Luisa’s vision and is interested in being involved in supporting next year’s Keep It 100 Youth Awards please visit www.KeepIt100Essex.com/contact to get in touch.

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