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Bromford’s Rishi clinches Rising Stars final three spot

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Strong on-stage performances have helped Bromford Rising Star Rishi Spolia to clinch one of the final three places at the Housing 2011 conference in Harrogate.

Housing minister Grant Shapps broke the good news to the Bromford Living neighbourhood manager last night (Wednesday).

Rishi now goes forward to the final day showdown in the main Harrogate conference hall with Exeter Council housing needs manager Chris Hancock and Carla Keegans, head of involvement and policy at City of London Corporation.

They face a final onstage challenge giving them just two minutes to argue why the watching housing professionals should vote in their favour and make them outright winner of the CIH Rising Stars challenge.

Rishi and his fellow finalists will also have to answer questions from the panel, including CIH chief executive Sarah Webb, and may face a final question from the minister.

At stake as well as the honour is a career-boosting package of prizes that includes a day shadowing Mr Shapps, an invitation to speak at Housing 2012 in Manchester and £1,000 to spend on learning.

"Making it into the final three was the big one for me," said a pleasantly surprised Rishi, who has been trailing fourth and fifth in the Inside Housing online poll throughout the contest despite strong support from colleagues.

"I've got a lot of respect for Chris and Carla, the other finalists who've made it through to the final day. They've been the front runners up to this point so it was all about clinching that third spot - and I was so delighted when Grant Shapps broke the news that I had been successful.

"Clearly, the competition today will be tough but I know I have my colleagues in the Midlands behind me and there is no reason why I can't go all the way."

Bromford chief executive Mick Kent was there to support Rishi at the CIH presidential drinks reception in the Crown Hotel, Harrogate, last night (Wednesday) together with Bromford executive director Helen Collins, who is now CIH president.

Mick was full of praise for Rishi, saying: "I am really proud of him and what he has achieved here at Harrogate. I know that colleagues from Bromford - and elsewhere in the Midlands - have been right behind him. We will all be rooting for him at the final session."

Earlier yesterday, Rishi put in a strong performance during the second day's onstage challenge - Nobody gets us, why? - where he built on his original submission argument that the housing sector must shrug off the traditional stigmas of worklessness, benefits dependency and chaotic lifestyles as portrayed in offbeat TV drama Shameless.

It was a timely choice of theme as the speakers included Danny Brocklehurst, Bafta-winning scriptwriter of… Shameless.
The audience clearly agreed with Rishi as he clinched third place- repeating his performance in the previous day's challenge.

Read the previous related stories: "X-Factor" voting challenge for Rishi and Social housing must lose Shameless stigma, says Bromford's Rising Star.