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The singer and performer Gareth Gates (pictured) has been unveiled as the host of the 2017 Shine a Light Awards, taking place in London on 23 March.

The national awards scheme, run by Pearson in partnership with The Communication Trust, celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication development.

Gareth Gates, who rose to fame on the TV show Pop Idol, has spoken publicly about living with a stutter and the impact this has on life chances. After qualifying as a speech coach, he made the 2011 documentary, Stop my Stutter, in which he taught young people who had stammered since childhood how to use a particular technique to overcome stuttering.

“Too often people take speaking for granted but for many being able to communicate and converse is an everyday struggle”, says Mr Gates. “In the past, I have found my stutter crippling, affecting my confidence greatly, but I have learnt ways to manage my difficulties with the support of others.”

The Shine a Light Awards feature a 28-strong judging panel including leading individuals in the speech, language and communication sector, SEN Magazine Editor Peter Sutcliffe and previous Award winners.

The international comedian, writer and speaker Francesca Martinez has also joined the judging panel this year. “The pressure to be ‘normal’ can be immense, but what does normal mean?”, she asks. “I have cerebral palsy, something I prefer to reference as ‘wobbly’, but that doesn’t stop me from performing, whether that be acting, stand-up comedy or appearing on a panel show.”
 
Francesca Martinez, who attended a mainstream school, says, “It is so important to recognise the achievements of those with speech and language difficulties and the families, individuals, team and settings that support them.”
 
For further information about the Shine a Light Awards, visit: 
www.shinealightawards.co.uk


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