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Three students from Sussex Downs College have been awarded one of the four top prizes, as well as two highly commended awards, in the Royal Opera House Design Challenge 2018. This represents the largest single award to any college in the competition.—Sussex Downs College, 8 February 2018

Sussex Downs College students have won awards in the Design Challenge for six years running

Eden Hedges, 18, from, Heathfield, was announced the winner in ‘Marketing Strategy & Design’. Laurel Pearce, 18, from Eastbourne, won the Highly Commended Award in the same category, while Felix Scott, 17, from Eastbourne, won the Highly Commended award for ‘Set Design’. All three students are currently in their second year of the OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art & Design.

For his award, Eden designed an eye-catching poster and produced a fantastic short animation. Not only did this help to secure the Marketing Strategy prize but he is also now been able to achieve direct entry to university with offers from three well known establishments.

In addition, Eden will be invited to see a matinee performance of Carmen at the Royal Opera House in half term, including a backstage tour and some time with the industry professionals in the relevant ROH department on Friday 16th February.

This year’s winners and those identified at highly commended will exhibit their work as part of the Opera: Passion, Power and Politics exhibition at the V&A Museum on Friday 9th February 2018.

The Royal Opera House’s prestigious Design Challenge is a national competition aimed at the next generation of aspiring set and costume designers, makers and marketing specialists. The annual competition is open to all UK FE colleges and sixth form schools or colleges, with over 1,000 students participating and being tasked with reimagining Richard Strauss’s Salome to test their design skills and show their vision for a production.

Sussex Downs College students have won awards in the Design Challenge for six years running.

James DiBiase, Course Leader of Visual Arts at Sussex Downs College, coordinates the project. He said, “The Royal Opera House Design Challenge is a remarkable project. It is an incredible opportunity for our students to engage with a live brief, a real client and design for the most prestigious stage in the country. This year was the added incentive to have their work in the V&A and for us to have three out of eight students with their work in such a pre-eminent museum is indicative of the high levels of creative endeavour and opportunity available to young people who study at Sussex Downs College.”

The Design Challenge receives generous philanthropic support from the Paul Hamlyn Education Fund and The Mohn Westlake Foundation.

Past winners:


Pascal Bailey Winner Set Design
Rhiannon Field Winner Hair, Wigs and Make-up Design
Chase Hayden Winner Director’s Choice
Anne-Marie Leadbetter Highly Commended Set Design


Luke Hopkins Winner Set Design
Eddy Wilson Winner Director’s Choice
Olivia Booth Highly Commended Set Design
David Burnage Highly Commended Marketing Strategy & Design


Luke Adlam Winner Set Design
Elise Illett Winner Marketing Strategy & Design
Sid Hynard Highly Commended Set Design
Natty Bain Highly Commended Marketing Strategy & Design
Vicky Oakes Highly Commended Costume Design


Ollie Jagot Winner Set Design
Po Wong Highly Commended Marketing Strategy & Design
Emma Russell Highly Commended Costume Design

2013 TOSCA

Lydia Parson Highly Commended