The former insurance broker turned gallery owner who founded Upfest has been awarded by the prime minister for his inspirational work.
Stephen Hayles was praised in a personal letter from Theresa May for all he has done to make art accessible to everyone and for helping to regenerate areas of Bristol through collaborations with school children and artists.
Founded in 2008, Upfest is now the biggest street art and graffiti festival in Europe, attracting 300 street artists from 25 different countries, and has helped raise more than £40,000 for its partner charity National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACOA).
“I’m exceedingly grateful and equally surprised at receiving this award and the only way I can accept it is on behalf of everyone around me,” said Hayles, on receiving the Points of Light award which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
“So many individuals have come together and contributed to our festival over the past nine years, and in turn given support to NACOA, so really all I’ve done is given people the chance to get involved.”
In her letter, the prime minister said: “Your work with Upfest is helping to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their background, and this ethos is inspiring volunteers from across Bristol. You should be proud of the scale of the project.”
Stephen is the 758th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA.
Read more: 32 amazing photos of Upfest 2017