Horsham art session members awarded top three places in competition

L-R Out There! Sports and Leisure Development Officer Ian Burlinson, Joseph Cook, Akachai Samkraisri, Alan Masters and art session leader Sheila Chapman. Picture submitted
L-R Out There! Sports and Leisure Development Officer Ian Burlinson, Joseph Cook, Akachai Samkraisri, Alan Masters and art session leader Sheila Chapman. Picture submitted

Three people with learning disabilities and autism have won the top three places in an art competition open to disabled people across Sussex.

Akachai Samkraisri was awarded first place, Joseph Cook came second and third prize went to Alan Masters at the Mary Wheeler Art Competition.

All three attend the art session at the Out There! programme in Horsham, run by Outreach 3 Way, an organisation which supports people with learning disabilities and autism across Sussex.

The Out There! art sessions have been running at Trafalgar Road Baptist Church in Horsham since April 2011, with about 15 people attending each week.

For the majority of the Out There! art session members, this year was the first time they had entered the competition.

There were three categories - The Olympics, My Hobbies and My Best Friend. The three people who were named first, second and third had entered artwork in the Olympic category.

They all received a certificate, trophy and cash prize.

A trophy was also presented to the person who submitted the most outstanding work of art throughout the three categories – the winner of which was again Akachai Samkraisri.

Art session leader Sheila Chapman collected their awards on their behalf at a ceremony in Burgess Hill.

Ian Burlinson, Out There! Sports and Leisure Development Officer, said: “We are all so pleased and proud that three people from Out There won the top prizes for their great artwork – this was very well deserved and shows just what people with learning disabilities and autism can achieve.

“The art sessions at Out There! are fun and friendly. All the people who attend the sessions have made great progress with their art, whether it be in drawing or painting.

“The art sessions are great for the people who we support with learning disabilities and autism because they take part in something they enjoy, have the opportunity to be creative, learn new things and socialise with friends at the same time.”

The Mary Wheeler Art Competition has been running for nine years and is open to people with disabilities throughout Sussex.

It was started to commemorate one time president and chairwoman Mary Wheeler, who founded Mid Sussex Mencap. This year’s judge was Ross Thomson, a leading international cartoonist.

Warren Tame, Margaret Cooper, Jamie Dunn and Nick Paddington, who all attend the art sessions run by Out There!, also entered the competition.

Outreach 3 Way is part of Dimensions, a national not-for-profit organisation that supports people with learning disabilities and people with autism.

Pictured here, left to right, are Out There! Sports and Leisure Development Officer Ian Burlinson, Joseph Cook, Akachai Samkraisri, Alan Masters and art session leader Sheila Chapman.