Twenty people who impacted a borough’s arts and culture scenes by thinking outside the box have been awarded for their imaginative work.

Waltham Forest’s Cultural Stars who were nominated by people in the community were recognised at a celebratory tea party this week at the William Morris Gallery in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

From youth leaders and teachers to entrepreneurs and those spearheading regeneration projects, the Cultural Stars have all made a tangible difference to the lives of people living, working and studying in the borough.

The competition was launched as part of the council’s bid for Waltham Forest to become the first London Borough of Culture, which the Stars will now act as ambassadors for.

Among the stars were 15-year-old Emmie Emin who volunteered for over 100 hours as a dance teacher and Maria Theodoulou who set up Leaders Community, which delivers social inclusion opportunities for vulnerable and isolated young people.

Award-winning artist Farah Ishaq who designed the mural under St James Street Station railway bridge in Walthamstow was also awarded for her work.

Ms Ishaq said: “As a lifelong resident of Walthamstow, I'm so lucky to be surrounded by makers, creators, designers and dreamers.

“Changing career from music publishing to full time artist two years ago would likely not have been such a success if it wasn't for the people of the borough.”

Walthamstow mum Louise Goulden who quit her job and founded The Together Project to tackle loneliness among care home residents received a prize.

Alison Jones, artistic director at Shapeshifter Productions, was awarded for the work the charity does to help youngsters bond with different communities through music.

Another winner Anna Alcock who set up Inky Cuttlefish Studio to offer community engagement through art, said: “I feel very honoured to be nominated and I will keep on putting Walthamstow history and culture in the forefront of what I do as it is where I live and where my children and family have their home.”

The winners were presented with Back the Bid postcards designed by Hooksmith Press in Leytonstone.

The council is asking people to pledge support for Waltham Forest to become Borough of Culture.

Council Leader Clare Coghill, said: “While Waltham Forest has an incredible heritage and fantastic venues, it is the people living and working here that make it such a vibrant and culturally rich place.

“Our Cultural Stars represent the very best of Waltham Forest – hard-working, innovative and enthusiastic individuals who want to make a positive difference to our community.

“As today demonstrates, we are a borough of makers, radicals and fellowship and are truly deserving to be the first ever London Borough of Culture.”

To pledge your support for Waltham Forest in the Borough of Culture competition visit www.