A CHARITY which helps youngsters to achieve their dreams celebrated its 10th anniversary with "the best day of the year" at a Ferndown school.

The John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation (JTYAF) was established in 2008 following the death of 22-year-old Royal Marine John Thornton in Afghanistan.

More than £500,000 has since been raised in his name to support local young people in achieving their ambitions.

Last week, John's parents and charity founders Pete and Linda Thornton visited Ferndown Upper School to mark the anniversary. John was a former pupil of the school.

Over the past decade, £130,000 has been awarded to 250 Ferndown students.

Linda said: "This year, more than 30 outstanding students received individual awards, and the charity also funded almost £4,500-worth of specialist IT equipment for pupils with special educational needs.

"The students had the chance to meet local dignitaries before and after the ceremony and enjoyed chatting to them about their achievements."

Funding given to the students has been used for music lessons, language courses and sports activities.

"The awards supported an impressive range of interests and activities," Linda said.

"Music bursaries will help four talented students to purchase instruments ranging from saxophones to ukuleles, enabling them to develop as musicians.

"Several students with a special interest in languages have received funding to cover the cost of language courses and one student will be studying Korean thanks to the JTYAF.

"A young lady will be representing the UK in rifle shooting with the charity's support, and a young man who is currently world champion in his age group and engine size in karting has received a scholarship to help him achieve his ambitions."

In addition, the charity's funding allowed one student to take part in a week-long work experience placement at Aston Martin. She aims to find work in sales and marketing with the car company.

"John would be extremely proud of all that his foundation has achieved over the past 10 years," Linda said.

"There is no better place to celebrate this achievement than at his old school."