L-R: Ben Willows receives the cheque from John Irvine flanked by characters from the Star Wars films


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The force was strong for WightFibre and UKSA at their latest Charity Premiere for the release of Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker last month, with over £7,000 raised for UKSA.

The event took place on the film’s release in December at Cineworld in Newport to a capacity audience of over 290 VIP Guests.

John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre, has now presented Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA, with a cheque for £7,158 flanked by a Shadow Scout Trooper, Imperial Stormtrooper and TIE Fighter Pilot from the 501st Isle of Wight Garrison, standing in front of the Princess Leia Dinghy at UKSA’s base in Cowes.

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This latest donation goes to UKSA’s ‘Test the Water’ programme and will fund 240 places for Year 6 children from across the Island to spend half a day at UKSA with their school, taking part in a sailing or watersports session. The programme affords children the opportunity to have a go, to overcome, to succeed and to develop confidence, at an important time when they will soon be transitioning from primary to secondary education.

Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA comments:

“We are very fortunate to have the ongoing support of WightFibre. Something that helps us to keep running this important programme and to continue to make a real difference to young people on the Isle of Wight. Once again, this event is a brilliant platform for us to talk about our charitable work here on the Island and raise money for local children to come to UKSA, so a huge thanks to WightFibre for hosting this event once again.”

This is the third time that WightFibre has held a Star Wars Charity Screening for UKSA. The previous events in 2017 for ‘The Last Jedi’ and in 2015 for the screening of ‘The Force Awakens’ brings the total raised by WightFibre for the UKSA Test the Water programme to nearly £15,000.

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Those attending the event in December walked the red carpet to join a special VIP Reception and rubbed shoulders with characters from the popular film series including Darth Vader, Storm Troopers and Hans Solo, before moving into Screen 1 to take their seats.

The event was dedicated to Simon Poole, WightFibres’ Chief Operating Officer, who tragically lost his life only a few days prior to the event. All those who attended observed one-minute of silence.

The auction, conducted by Rex Gully of HRD Auction Rooms saw competition from the audience for auction lots that included a Replica Storm Trooper Helmet, Dave Prowse signed print, Luxury Spa Experience and UKSA Activity Day. The highlight being a framed Medal of Yavin with film cells from Star Wars IV: A New Hope, plus a guest appearance from actor Nick Joseph who took part in this iconic film. The auction raised over £1,300 towards the total on the night.

John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre the event hosts added:

“Once again this was a great evening. A unique and fun event, something that allows us to give back to the Island community. To be able to raise so much more than before was amazing and really helps us to support the important work of UKSA and in turn children from across the Island.”

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