Claire Young: Why award winning kids inspire me

Claire Young presents the Outstanding Bravery award to Lewis Jeynes at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards 2014

Claire Young presents the Outstanding Bravery award to Lewis Jeynes at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards 2014

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FOR SOMEONE who first rose to fame nicknamed ‘The Rottweiler’, former Apprentice runner-up Claire Young becomes uncharacteristically emotional when speaking of the remarkable children she meets at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards.

“The children are just incredible,” she said. “The things each and every one of them goes through, such challenging circumstances or illness, is an inspiration.”

Miss Young, of Wakefield, first rose to fame after appearing on series four of The Apprentice in 2008, where she was came second, partly due to her tough nickname-worthy business skills.

The mother-of-one returned to Yorkshire after filming ended, turning down a role with Karren Brady to set up her own business. She now runs School Speakers, a businesses which works with thousands of young people across the country inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

She became involved with the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards in its first year, 2011, and continues to be moved by the stories she hears at the event, of which she is an ambassador.

The awards, which are supported by The Yorkshire Post, were set up by the St James’s Place Foundation in Leeds to celebrate the most courageous youngsters in the region, but also to raise money for the fund, which has raised more than £40m for good causes since 1992.

Miss Young said: “Every year as soon as the event is over, and next year’s date is announced, it goes straight in my diary.

“What the children go through is amazing, but it is also about celebrating the parents, families and carers who look after them.”

At last year’s event Miss Young presented an outstanding bravery award to ten-year-old Lewis Jeynes, of Bessacar, Doncaster, who has an incredibly rare form of the degenerative neurological condition Batten Disease, which has left him requiring 24-hour-a-day care and unable to communicate.

But despite his difficulties, Lewis is a happy and smiley boy who inspires hundreds of people through his popular Facebook page.

“Lewis’s story stood out to me,” Miss Young said. “He had such tenacity.

“But without his dad nominating him, we would have never heard his story. That’s why it’s so important that people get on the website and nominate these special children. They are all role models.”

The Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards will take place on October 16 at New Dock Hall, Leeds, compered by BBC Breakfast Business Journalist Steph McGovern.

Tickets are on sale and nominations can be made via the awards website.

“It can be so easy to get wrapped up in every day life,” Miss Young added. “Once in a while we all need a reality check and seeing what these children go through will give you that. Come along, and help raise money to help even more children.”

Nominations go on tour

IT’s easy to nominate a deserving child for a Yorkshire Children of Courage Award, and next week the award’s ambassadors will take the search for rewarding youngsters on tour.

On Thursday, July 9, you can nominate in person at the office of headline sponsor Manning Stainton at Moortown, Leeds.

The managing director of Johnston Press Yorkshire, Helen Oldham, will be there in recognition of The Yorkshire Post’s role as media partner of the awards.

Nominations can also be made at organiser’s the St James’s Place Foundation golf day at Sand Moor Golf Club, Leeds, on the same day.

Yorkshire businesswoman, retail expert and Children of Courage ambassador Kate Hardcastle will be at the Manning Stainton office in Harrogate on July 14 to accept nominations, and veteran children’s entertainers The Chuckle Brothers will help close nominations by attending an event at the estate agent’s Wakefield office on July 27.

For more information, or to nominate online, visit www.yorkshirechildren.co.uk.

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