Firewatch is celebrating 10 years in business by giving out £10,000 to children and teenagers as well as local sporting groups.
The Exeter winners, which Echo editor Marc Astley helped to pick with Firewatch group managing director Martin Smith, ...
were given their cheques at the newspaper's office on Wednesday evening. The youngsters had to explain in a 250-word letter why they needed support and how much they would like — from £100 to £500.
These included young tennis hopeful Reece Allen, who at just nine is already hoping to be the next Andy Murray after winning a local competition in Plymouth. Reece, who attends Ladysmith Junior School, trains at Exeter University's tennis centre. He will use his £100 to buy a new racquet. "I train for nine hours a week already and equipment and travelling is already proving to be expensive," Reece said.
Tyler Govier, 12, from Heavitree, was given £200 to help fund his grasstrack racing. He has already won national and club events. He applied to help his mum and dad, who currently fund his racing. Cycle speedway rider Thomas Reed, from Tristan Close, got £300 to help his dream of becoming world junior champion.
The 15-year-old has ridden for 10 years and his parents regularly take him around the country to compete. His money will go towards a trip to Australia in 2009.
Goalkeeper Joe Forster, 11, a member of the Devon Elite Football academy, is desperate to play football all his life — whether in the Premiership or in a Sunday league side. He got £100 for new kit.
Jack Stevens, a motocross rider ranked in the top three in the South West, got £150 towards a new pair of riding boots.
Speedway rider Lloyd Barrett, 14, from Cullompton, is having to train in Somerset before facilities open near Exeter. He got £200 towards new kit.
Footballer Oliver Payne's aunt wowed judges by offering to get Firewatch's name tattooed on the eight-year-old's back if he got the money. Oliver was spotted by Plymouth Argyle, aged just six, but two years later was spotted by Exeter City and is now a member of the club's academy. He was selected for City's school of excellence within just three weeks. His parents have to bring him from the family home in Totnes two or three times a week and he was given £200 towards travelling expenses.
Hearing impaired skier Beth South, 15, got £300 towards her dream of training to become an instructor for disabled people. Beth, who lives in Countess Wear and attends Clyst Vale Community College, trains at Clifton Hill and will also ski in Aspen.
Devon schools pentahlon champion Beth Skinner, 14, got £200 to fund her specialist training in Bath. Beth, who lives in Crediton and attends Queen Elizabeth's Community College, also excels at hockey and netball.
Isca Dragons hockey star Alexandra Spencer got £180 towards new goalkeeping kit.
Brothers Josh and Rob Kyme, who both represent Great Britain at Ultimate Frisbee, got £200 towards their expenses travelling around the world.
Cullompton Rangers FC under-nines were given £100 and cricketer Paris Pinney, from Sidmouth, was given £300.
Exeter Saracens girls' rugby team was given £270 for new kit.
West Exe Table Tennis Club got £200 towards coaching sessions.
Mr Astley said he had been thrilled to help choose the winners. "The standard was incredible. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I was surprised by just how much talent there is in the area," he said.
Mr Smith said: "I hope this money will motivate young people and help them. It's great to see kids striving to be the best they can and to see how much their parents are helping them."