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Sir Ian McKellen has sent his congratulations to a charity of which he is patron after it won a major award this week.

Sir Ian is currently in New Zealand, reprising his role of Gandalf for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, but managed to find time to record a video congratulating Step Forward. The organization provides a free and confidential service to young people aged 11-25, living in and around Tower Hamlets in East London. It offers independent information, advice, counselling and personal development training.

Step Forward, has beaten more than 420 organisations from around the UK to be crowned the overall winner of this year’s prestigious GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) IMPACT Awards, run in partnership with health think-tank The King’s Fund. It picked up its award and £35,000 prize at a ceremony last Thursday, held at London’s Science Museum. Step Forward impressed a team of judges with its innovative approach to helping over 2,000 11-25 year olds overcome personal, social and health problems via counselling, advice, training, personal development, and sexual health services provided in partnership with the local primary care trust.

Ian McKellen has been patron of the charity since 2006.

“Step Forward is so impressive to visit, welcoming and utterly committed to helping local young people,” says Sir Ian. “It is amazing that such an evidently worthwhile project does not receive the funding necessary to continue its vital work. I am very happy and honoured to be a Patron for Step Forward and support its aim to continue providing essential support services over the coming years.”

Watch Sir Ian’s video here.

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