Rob Younger, owner of the Parkway Barnsley and an industry veteran of over 40 years, has been announced today as the winner of the UK Cinema Heroes competition jointly launched by the UK Cinema Association and Searchlight Pictures to mark the release of Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light.

Chosen from over 200 industry figures who collectively received over 1,000 nominations, the judging panel comprising colleagues from the Association and Searchlight and well as the film-makers, had an extraordinarily difficult task in choosing from ten exceptional short-listed candidates.

In the end though, they decided that Rob should be the winner, with Joyce Kane of ODEON Kilmarnock and Mark Gallagher of the Arc Hucknall as worthy runners-up. Congratulations to all.

Welcoming today’s announcement, UK Cinema Association Chief Executive Phil Clapp 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.

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. As reflected by this decision, 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.