Searchlight Pictures and UK Cinema Association Announce Winner of ‘UK Cinema Heroes’ Competition in Partnership With Sam Mendes’ ‘Empire of Light’

After a nationwide search, Rob Younger (Parkway Cinema) has been named the winner of the nationwide UK Cinema Heroes competition
London, UK ( February 7, 2023 ) -

After a nationwide search, Rob Younger, owner of Parkway Cinema in Barnsley, has been named the winner of the nationwide UK Cinema Heroes competition. Joyce Kane, cinema host at Odeon Kilmarnock and Mark Gallagher, marketing manager at Arc Hucknall, have been announced as runners-up.

To celebrate the UK release of “Empire of Light”, Searchlight Pictures partnered with the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) in December to launch a nationwide competition to celebrate the UK’s ‘Cinema Heroes’ – those who have dedicated their careers to keeping the magic of the big screen alive for communities throughout the country.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UKCA said:
“The number and range of nominations received in response to the UK Cinema Heroes competition speaks volumes about the extent to which cinema-goers recognise and appreciate the dedication shown by so many working in the sector. And we know that that is just a snapshot of the many more who have contributed to much to bring the big screen experience to their communities. It was particularly pleasing to see nominations covering cinemas from across the UK and of all types and sizes.

All of that made deciding on a final short-list, let alone the ultimate top three, an incredibly difficult task.

However, there could though only be one winner chosen, and I know I speak for all Association members when I offer my sincere congratulations to Rob Younger, whose nomination received widespread support from an incredible number of his customers and industry colleagues. Rob’s commitment to the industry, and to the communities he has served, is second to none and he is a more than worthy winner.”

Having trained as a projectionist at the then ODEON Barnsley in the late 1970s, Rob used expertise gained through his qualifications in electronics to support a number of smaller cinemas in the North of England, before becoming the manager of the Penistone Paramount in 2003.

In 2005, Rob was appointed as Head of Technical Services at Picturehouse Cinemas, a role he continued until 2010, during which time he had the opportunity both to fit out and open the Station Cinema in Richmond and acquire – with the late Gerald Parkes – his former stamping ground in Barnsley, renaming the site the Parkway.

Rob was able to purchase the freehold of the Barnsley site in October of last year, and is in the process of refurbishing and restoring the cinema frontage, with funding support both from the local council and Historic England.

The Parkway is very much a community venue, with regular mainstream film screenings, 35mm and 70mm film shows, event cinema, live stage shows and private hires, all of which Rob manages – and often introduces – with undimmed energy and enthusiasm.

Speaking of his win, Rob said:
“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to discover that I have been selected as the UK Cinema Hero!

I am genuinely surprised, especially after seeing all of those nominated in the top ten list. This is my 44th year in the industry and what a way to celebrate. Thanks to all who took the time to nominate me in this amazing competition.”

Rob has won a trip for two to Hollywood plus a pair of tickets to an upcoming red-carpet event in London. Searchlight will also be providing a staff party package at Rob’s cinema to celebrate his victory with his colleagues.

Joyce and Mark have each won a pair of tickets to an upcoming red-carpet event in London including dinner, travel and accommodation.

About Searchlight Pictures
Searchlight Pictures is a global specialty film and television company that develops, produces, finances and acquires motion pictures and series for both worldwide theatrical and streaming releases. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and is part of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. Founded in 1994 as Fox Searchlight Pictures, the company’s titles have grossed over $5 billion worldwide, amassing 46 Academy Awards including five Best Picture winners since 2009: “Slumdog Millionaire”, “12 Years a Slave”, “Birdman”, “The Shape of Water”, and “Nomadland”; 51 BAFTA Awards, 28 Golden Globe Awards, and 10 Grammy Awards.

Searchlight Television, the division which develops and produces series for streaming, network, and cable partners, earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress and an additional 5 nominations for its first production “The Dropout” from Elizabeth Meriwether, in partnership with Hulu and 20th Studios.

Searchlight recently released Mark Mylod’s “The Menu”; Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin”; Tom George’s “See How They Run”; Quinn Shephard’s “Not Okay”; Sophie Hyde’s “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”; Andrew Ahn’s “Fire Island”; Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award nominated “Nightmare Alley”; and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Oscar-winning documentary feature “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” with Hulu and in partnership with Disney’s Onyx Collective. Upcoming releases include Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light”; Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins”; Stephen Williams’ “Chevalier”; and Eva Longoria’s “Flamin’ Hot”.

About the UK Cinema Association
The UK Cinema Association (UKCA) represents the interests of well over 90 per cent of UK cinema operators by number and market share. The UKCA membership includes single screen/owner managed sites as well as the largest circuit and multiplex operators. The UKCA advocates on behalf of the UK cinema sector at international, national, regional and local level.