The 2017 Funding Award prize was awarded to Pailin Wedel from Bangkok for Hope Frozen. What happens when a Buddhist scientist from Bangkok decides to freeze his daughter’s brain? When laser scientist Sahatorn’s baby daughter tragically dies of cancer, he invests in a dream of the future that one day she will be awoken and given another chance of life. A tale of grief and scientific progress, this is the story of how a 2 year old girl became the youngest human ever to be cryopreserved. You can watch the trailer here.

Hope Frozen – Pailin Wedel



The runner-up prize of £15,000 goes to Duncan Cowles, 26  from Edinburgh for Silent Men. Silent Men is a frank and at times humorous look at masculinity and its role in society. The documentary will investigate the cultural norms and social conditioning that render suicide the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and make men three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent. Shot entirely in the UK, the filmmaker will travel across the country interviewing men young and old in an attempt to get to heart of why some of them, including the filmmaker himself, find it so difficult to open up to their friends and family or to simply say “I Love You.”

Silent Men – Duncan Cowles



An documentary about first and last dances and what happens when an instrument as finely tuned as a dancer’s body begins to change. In this moving audio programme, producer Eleanor McDowall followed ballet dancers from the beginning to the end of their careers, from young dancers training at the Royal Ballet School to former principal ballerinas and one influential dance company that refuses to let age be a limitation. Listen to the full programme here on the BBC Radio 4 website.

Image Courtesy of Eleanor McDowall



A fierce drought in Oklahoma’s ‘No Man’s Land’ – a region that was the heart of the 1930s Dust Bowl – stirs up dust storms, memories and myths. In this parched terrain of ghost towns and mirages, the wells are running dry but the stories continue to flow. Producer Cicely Fell talked to locals about their memories of growing up in the Dust Bowl, an area once thought to be an elegant, tree-lined Utopia, now a barren land where the storytelling spins out of the landscape itself. Listen to the full programme here on SoundCloud.

The runner-up Audio Recognition Award of £2,000 was awarded to John Fecile for Blink Once for Yes. Aged 20, John Fecile’s younger brother Mike sustained a traumatic brain injury after he leapt from a fourth floor balcony. Four years later, the family made the heartbreaking decision to end his life. This documentary combined interviews and intimate scenes with the family as they looked back on the decision that they made. 



The £5,000 RAFA went to Tom Glasser from Tring, Hertfordshire, for Sounds Inside. In prison for the first time, many inmates are surprised to discover that they are not only cut off from the day-to-day business of the outside world, but also transported to an alien soundscape. In the company of ex-con Carl Cattermole, this programme will take the listener into a unique acoustic world. Sounds Inside will spend 24 hours inside HMP Brixton, exploring a unique soundscape, from the slamming of metal doors to the silence of the harsh Dickensian architecture.  Listen to the taster material here to find out why Tom won our first-ever RAFA.

The Runner-up Award went to Jodie Taylor from Hastings for A New Normal: Audio Diaries of Syrians in Europe. This series of audio diaries made by Syrians who have recently arrived in Europe, offering an unusually intimate insight into an experience that most will only know of through news coverage. 

A £1,000 special prize was also awarded to writer Michelle Thomas from Bala, North Wales, for I’m Not OK, The Mental Health Podcast. This serialised podcast documentary is a journey through the world of mental health as she uncovers the common ground that unites us through our personal struggles.

Tom Glasser (right) and Carl Cattermole (left), winners of the 2017 RAFA




The 2017 winner of the Sage award for first-timers over the age of 50 was Steven Carne from St Ives, Cornwall for My NHS: Voices from the Grassroots. MY NHS touches on another massive story of our time as a group of ordinary people attempt to take on the might of the government and save the National Health Service. Through the eyes of a working-class mother from Darlington and founder of 999 Call for the NHS, Joanna Adams, the film reveals the hope, hurt, effort and disappointments members of the public face when they unwittingly step into the political arena. A moving and insightful documentary that keeps the Whicker spirit of inquisitiveness alive. You can watch the full programme here on Vimeo.

The runner-up prize of £2,000.00 went to Roy Delaney from Bristol for The Bard’s Wife. Wes White is the Bard of Glastonbury, an honour going back centuries that he won in a poetry battle in the heart of this historic Somerset town. His wife is an American citizen struggling to get a visa to live in the UK due to his low wage. This short doc follows Wes as he makes a tough decision – give up the job he fought for or risk losing his wife? 





Alex Bescoby and Max Jones were the first ever recipient of our £80,000 Funding Award for their project We Were Kings. Focusing on the forgotten monarchy of Myanmar, this documentary  follows a family who have spent a century living incognito in their own homeland. After King Thibaw’s death, the country was plunged into decades of civil war and in order to stay out of prison (or at least alive) the royals were forced to hide their identities. Now after an extraordinary year of change, King Thibaw’s great-grandson will attempt to reunite his kin and bring the king’s body back to its righteous homeland.

In late 2016 Alex will be finishing the production stage of his documentary, with the film ready in time for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017. You can read more about Alex Bescoby’s documentary and how he prepared his funding award application and pitch here.



Runner up of our 2016 award, Adam James Smith won £10,000 to go towards the completion of his documentary Americaville. The film follows the story of an American replica town in Hebei Province, China where the residents eat fruit loops and celebrate the 4th of July. Yet their ‘American dream in China’ is not all that it is hyped up to be, and the residents soon realise that they cannot escape their less than peaceful surroundings.

Adam’s advice for funding award applicants is to find strong characters. “Have your characters in place, and have strong characters who can carry the story that you want to tell,” he says. “I think thats the most important thing. If youre unsure that theyre going to work – perhaps youve only been in production for a short time – then you have to think: I may have a great story to tell, but is my character able to carry the film?” 



Cathy for Sky Arts, Little Volcanoes follows the rhythms of a day at Pilgrims Hospice, Margate, from early morning, meeting Claudia the cat at the end of the night shift to the nurse’s final “goodnight” to her patients. We hear patients as they talk about their illnesses; the things and people they love. Award judge Alan Hall said of the piece: “The artifice is very well hidden, though the use of sound is highly accomplished and people are treated with an open sensitivity. It gives you an insight in to a world that most of us haven’t previously inhabited.” Hear the programme here.

The runner-up was Francesca Panetta from London, for her enchanting audio piece The Dhammazedi Bell. Her documentary, which examines a 400 year old myth claiming that the largest bell in the world rolled to the bottom of the Bago River during an attempted theft, can be heard here.

Cathy FitzGerald’s “Little Volcanoes” about the residents of Pilgrim’s Hospice won our first ever Audio Recognition Award in 2016



The winner of last year’s Vets Award for first-time authored documentary makers over 50 was Keith Ernest Hoult for his short doc Fluechtlinge: Refugee. When he witnessed his friend’s wife Caroline trying to help refugees against a growing backlash he ‘felt the urge to film it if only for her family to reflect on later in life’.

Second place went to Norman Fowler for his documentary series The Truth About AIDS. In his documentary, Lord Fowler travels the UK, US, Australia and Russia to compare experiences and find out how far prejudice is still hampering effective policies for AIDS prevention.