AWARDS given out by a charity set up in memory of a young Royal Marine killed in action are set to hit the half-a-million pounds mark this year.

The John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation was established in 2008 following the tragic death of John Thornton, a 22-year-old Marine from Ferndown, in Afghanistan.

The Foundation supports local young people in a bid to help them achieve their ambitions and potential in life.

And it has just announced that £85,000 will be given out in 2017 to bring the total distributed to £500,000.

It currently supports 19 organisations and has expanded to offer funding to young people from the Bournemouth Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets.

Funding to Ferndown Upper School, the Guides, the Coda Fiddle Orchestra and Beaucroft Foundation School has been increased and Phil Jones, head of Ferndown Upper School has been welcomed to the Board of Trustees.

Chairman Pete Thornton said: "Without the time and effort put in by all our trustees, volunteers and supporters none of this would be possible. This achievement is very much down to them and the fantastic support that we receive from the local community. We have a very exciting year ahead and hope to see a great many young people benefit from John’s legacy."

Around 1,150 young people have benefited from awards totalling £433,000 so far. Trustees are all volunteers and the Foundation has no paid staff and no premises. By keeping running costs to a minimum trustees ensure that the maximum amount of funds raised are directly invested in young people.

Awards have so far been given to the North East Forest and North East Minster Divisions of the Girl Guides, the East Dorset and Christchurch District Scouts, the Dorset Music Service, Ferndown Middle School, St Michael’s Middle School, Beaucroft Foundation School, the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Cadets, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole, the Coda Fiddle Orchestra, Ferndown First School, Parley First School, Hampreston First School, Basement Studio and the Tall Ships Trust, in addition to the three core organisations, Ferndown Upper School, the Dorset and Wilts Wing of the Air Cadets and the Air Cadet Junior Leaders.

"In an age where young people can be commonly misconceived as causing only trouble for society, the JTYAF thrives on proving that there are some amazing youngsters out there who, given the opportunity, can make a genuine difference to not only their own lives, but also to those of other individuals and to the wider community" added Pete, John's father.

"John touched the lives of many people and now his legacy lives on making a real difference to the lives of local young people."

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