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New ambassador for local project designed to raise aspirations

Deborah Haywood Deborah Haywood

An award-winning film director has become the ambassador for an inspiring new project to encourage people to achieve their dreams.

Deborah Haywood, currently receiving critical acclaim for her movie PIN CUSHION, is the face – and the voice – of the Raising Aspirations (RISE) project.

RISE is designed to enable and encourage young people and adults across South Derbyshire to fulfil their potential with an awards night set for Wednesday, June 20 at Oakland Village in Swadlincote to highlight these achievements.

Deborah, who originates from Castle Gresley, said: “I’m delighted to be the ambassador for such a worthy project. I’m extremely passionate about giving youngsters the stepping stones to enable them to thrive and reach their fullest potential.

“I will be presenting at the RISE awards in June and I want to encourage people to come forward and nominate unsung heroes who have gone the extra mile in South Derbyshire. This could be pursuing an ambition, overcoming a personal barrier or making a difference to their community – RISE wants to hear from you.”

Deborah grew up in Swadlincote and went to the town’s Pingle Academy, where she left with only one GCSE in art. 

Having a daughter at 17 motivated her to enrol at Burton and South Derbyshire College, aged 23, hoping to become an English teacher.

It was here she got hooked on writing and went on to do a BA at Derby University in Literature and Creative Writing, as well as an MA in English at The University of Warwick. 

After university, Deborah continued to write while doing temping jobs, sitting on reception in various organisations, she eventually got a break when she got shortlisted for a short film scheme at Nottingham’s EM Media.

Following her first short film Lady Margaret, she was selected for Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow in 2007 and has since made several award winning shorts including SIS.

Her debut feature film PIN CUSHION, shot in and around Swadlincote, opened Critic’s Week at Venice International Film Festival, 2018 and has won a series of prestigious accolades.

Fashion and lifestyle magazine Harper’s Bazaar has recently named her as one of the top five biggest breakout female filmmakers.

Deborah said: “I hope my story shows if you work hard and apply yourself, you can achieve success and be whatever you want to be. There will be obstacles, you will make mistakes, but there are no limits to what you can do.”

The filmmaker is hoping her experiences inspire others through RISE, a partnership between South Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire County Council.

Further information on Deborah, our RISE ambassador and how to nominate somebody for the awards can be found at

18 May 2018

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