Mid Sussex Applauds winner Kieran talks about his super charity idea for Burgess Hill
Kieran Thompson won last year’s Young Achiever Award for his fundraising success.
Mid Sussex Applauds is celebrating local heroes for a third year and is now open for nominations throughout June and July.
The annual awards programme recognises people, groups and organisations who have gone above and beyond to serve the local community.
One outstanding individual who won last year’s Young Achiever Award is 19-year-old Kieran Thompson.
Kieran, from Burgess Hill, decided to dress up as Spiderman to spread cheer on his daily walks during the first UK lockdown last year.
Even though he was self-isolating, he used his one-hour exercise time to raise more than £2,600 for NHS Charities Together through his JustGiving page.
Kieran, who has cerebral palsy and other health conditions, said he got the idea in April after his brother splashed water onto his Spiderman costume.
As he was hanging it out to dry, the thought struck him that dressing up on his walks would help people feel better about the pandemic.
“It was important for kids to be happy,” said Kieran, adding that he wanted children to remember lockdown in a positive way.
“Even though it was a bad time they can think back that ‘Spiderman was around’,” he said.
The Burgess Hill Spiderman Facebook page soon attracted hundreds of fans with residents requesting that Kieran come to their areas.
Kieran said it was challenging to wear the suit with fake muscles on hot days and that longer walks could become tiring.
“I’m quite lucky and I can do most things,” said Kieran, adding that he can move his body a lot but over time his muscles start to ache.
He also said there are times when he finds it hard to walk and uses a wheelchair.
“But that’s if I’ve had a really intense day at college or if I’ve gone out with friends or something,” he said.
“On the whole I’m quite good on my feet.”
Kieran said he was proud to win the Young Achiever Award and happy that he had done something good for the community.
“It was a really good experience and something that I’ll remember,” he said.
Kieran currently studies at Plumpton College and has been doing work experience with Albion in the Community.
He is now busy sorting things out for his future but said it is possible Spiderman will make future appearances.
“I don’t think it’s something that will just go away,” he said.
Kieran’s message to other young people who want to do something for charity is to make a plan, try it out and work around any problems that come up.
“If you want to do something then go for it,” he said.
“Don’t let anything hold you back.”
Steve Lewsey, 48, who nominated Kieran for the award, said he was ‘chuffed’ when Kieran won.
“It was just so well deserved,” he said.
Steve, who lives in Burgess Hill with his wife and twin boys, said he was ‘absolutely in awe’ of Kieran and his fundraising success.
“I’m all about promoting the good kids,” added Steve, who is chairman of the 7th Burgess Hill Scout Group and parking operations manager at Mid Sussex District Council.
He feels there are too many news stories about young people getting into trouble so he was pleased to highlight a young man doing something positive.
“He had a little following on Facebook and it was brilliant,” said Steve, who found out about Kieran online.
“It was bringing a smile, not just to kids’ faces, but to the faces of big kids as well,” he added.
Steve said he liked Mid Sussex Applauds because they promote kindness and positive actions in the community.
“It should be embraced and I think people should be encouraged to nominate others,” he said.
“If more people get nominated I think it could become a bigger and better thing.”
The Mid Sussex Times is proud to be media partner of Mid Sussex Applauds.
Everyone who lives or works in Mid Sussex is entitled to be nominated.