2017 Award Winners

The winners of the 2017 Sandford St Martin Awards were announced during a special ceremony held at Lambeth Palace on 7 June 2017.

TV and Radio Times Readers’ Awards Winner

A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

Dragonfly Film and Television for BBC 2

A state of the nation documentary fronted by actor Sally Phillips which the Daily Mail called “profoundly moving, joyous, informative and frequently funny”. All true and yet in this programme, Sally explores a very serious subject and asks what impact a new screening test could have on our society and its potential to eradicate the next generation of Down’s syndrome kids. In a world where pre-natal genetic screening is predicted to become routine, what future do people with disabilities have in our society?

TV runner-up

Life and Death the Pentecostal Way

BBC Studios Pacific Quay Productions for BBC 2

Pentecostalism is now the largest Christian faith in London.  Broadcast as part of the BBC’s Black & British season, this documentary tells the powerful and moving stories of worshippers at one of London’s oldest black majority Pentecostal churches.  By focussing particularly on the stories of three members of the congregation during defining moments in their lives, the film explores the role the church plays for its members and in the wider community. “Charismatic preachers inspire passionate worship, and with family members of all ages involved, it is an inclusive, bonding experience in a fractured world.” – The Times

Children’s Award Winner


CTVC for TrueTube.co.uk

If you were forced to leave your home and could only take one bag, what would you take? What would it feel like to be on the run from your own country, in the hope of finding a safe place somewhere else? In this short drama, we meet a young girl and her family in an unknown land and discover how they came to be there, far away from home.

Children’s runner-up

Some Father’s Son

duck rabbit for YouTube/Facebook/extremedialogue.org

Billy McCurrie was 12 years old when his father was killed by the IRA.  At 16, consumed with anger, Billy joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).  A year later he got his chance to kill.  This is the story of the legacy of his loss.  “Some Father’s Son” is one of a series of films aimed at encouraging young people to explore the impact of extremism on individuals and communities.  It was launched at Quintin Kynaston, the school once attended by Mohammed Emwazi, who later became known as “Jihadi John”.

2017 Trustees’ Award

The Moral Maze

BBC Radio 4

Provocative and engaging, The Moral Maze has been examining the ethical issues behind the week’s news stories since 1990.  Presented by respected journalist and broadcaster Michael Buerk since its inception, the series calls upon an eclectic panel of regular contributors drawn from the worlds of religion, politics and journalism including Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy, Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor.  Previous panelists include Rabbi Hugo Gryn, Geoffrey Robertson, Michael Gove and David Starkey.  Announcing the recipient of the Trustees’ Award, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Lord Bishop of Leeds and the Trust’s Chair said: “We live in a complex world, and this programme takes these complexities seriously.  It also refuses to collude with the notion that all arguments must be reduced to the simplistic or the slogan.  Sometimes annoying, usually riveting, always worth the listen.”

Radio Award Winner

All Things Considered: Aberfan 50 Year Anniversary

Religious Programmes Department, BBC Radio Wales

On the morning of 21st October 1966, in the small mining village of Aberfan, an avalanche of colliery waste slipped down the mountainside, swept through houses, and overwhelmed Pantglas Junior School. It killed 144 people, 116 of them children. In a region familiar with colliery tragedies, the disaster at Aberfan represented a peculiar horror – by its scale, and more by the ages of most of its victims. It ripped the heart from the community, sparked huge controversy, and prompted practical support from around the world. To mark the 50th anniversary week of the disaster, ‘All Things Considered’ reflected on what the event did to the faith of people caught up in it. Some who found their beliefs shaken to the roots became atheists. For others, faith became more firmly rooted and it’s shaped their lives ever since.

Radio runner-up

Canada’s Atheist Minister

BBC Radio Productions North for BBC World Service

Reverend Gretta Vosper is a minister in the United Church of Canada – she is also a committed atheist. Vosper’s lack of faith in a supernatural God is no secret and she has regularly preached that acting like a Christian is more important than believing in a God.  But her controversial beliefs are testing the limits of her famously liberal church.  Presenter and journalist Jennifer Chevalier travels to Toronto to meet Gretta Vosper and to find out why her congregation prefers a church without mention of God.  She also hears from a minister who feels Gretta’s views are fundamentally at odds with what the United Church of Canada stands for. But a meeting with a third minister suggests that Gretta’s views may not be as rare as they might seem.

Interview of the Year Winner

An Extremist in the Family

Dominic Casciani, Home Affairs Correspondent for BBC News/BBC News Online

An Extremist in the Family was an exclusive interview with Nicola Benyahia, the mother of a Birmingham teenager groomed and radicalised into joining the self-styled Islamic State group. Within months of his clandestine departure from his home, Rasheed Benyahia was dead on a battlefield in Iraq. Mrs Benyahia is the first British Muslim mother to speak at length and with complete candour about her son’s descent into extremism and how she, her husband and other children failed to see the warning signs of how he was changing. At the heart of the story-telling was an attempt to inform non-Muslim audiences about the impact of Rasheed’s decisions on one ordinary Muslim family, how it left them shattered,

Interview of the Year runner up

Out of the Silence

BBC Radio Production North for BBC World Service

After nearly five years in captivity in Beirut, Terry Waite finally returned to the UK a free man. During the violent civil war in Lebanon he had been sent by the Church of England to negotiate for the release of hostages – but he was kidnapped and imprisoned himself by Hezbollah militants. His capture was news around the world and for a long time there was no information on whether he was alive or dead. During his years of solitary confinement, Terry’s courage and faith were so strong that although he was denied any writing materials, in his head he managed to write a book and conceive ideas for poems. In 2016, Terry Waite released his second publication; a book of poems entitled, ‘Out of the Silence’. Journalist Samira Ahmed met Terry at his home where she explored his deeply held faith throughout his turbulent journey. Terry describes how the central Christian teaching of forgiveness drove him to return to Lebanon to meet with both Hezbollah officials and Syrian and Iraqi Christians.

Further information

» View all the programmes shortlisted for the 2017 Awards

» Meet our judging panels