FROM the poorly little boy who has inspired hundreds of people around the world, to the teenager who spoke of his charity work on stage in front of 12,000, Yorkshire’s most courageous children have been honoured at a prestigious ceremony.
The fourth Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards took place at the Royal Armouries at Leeds tonight, in front of 700 proud parents, guests and celebrities.
Those honoured included a ten-year-old boy who is just one of five children around the world with a rare disease; a young man whose drive to help a charity saw him share a stage with a prince and a former president, and a teenage girl who has provided a ‘tower of strength’ to her parents, helping to care for her younger brother and sister.
The aim of the awards is to raise money to help disadvantaged youngsters while acknowledging those in the region who have shown courage in dealing with difficult circumstances.
The founder of the awards, Stephen Mitchell, Leeds’ representative of the grant giving St James’s Place Foundation, said: “It’s been a night of emotions and elation, packed with all sorts of great achievements. Seeing the faces of the children receiving awards has been incredibly special. It’s been brilliant to recognise the children while at the same time raising money for worthy causes.”
The event was hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Steph McGovern and Britain’s Got Talent runner-up and previous award winner Jack Carroll.
Miss McGovern said: “It is always an amazing night. You can never have enough tissues when you come here. When I talk to the children and see the videos of their stories I can’t help but think how amazing they are. They are doing amazing things and they are so modest about it.”
David Richmond, chairman of headline sponsors Arrow Cars who have sponsored the event for the third year running, said: “It is absolutely inspirational.
“When you see these kids go up and get their awards and hear the stories, and see the smiles on their faces, it is so moving. It really is something special.”
Guests enjoyed a meal by Aagrah Restaurants and entertainment by tenor Jonathan Ansell. Children’s entertainers the Chuckle Brothers were also on hand to add to the fun.
In total, 12 young people from across Yorkshire were honoured. The group award to either Jessie’s Fund of York; Prism Deaf Youth Club of Bradford; or Able2 Pontefract Special Olympics was made after The Yorkshire Post went to press.
Helen Oldham, managing director of The Yorkshire Post, media partner of the awards, said: “These awards shine a light on the huge courage and resilience shown by the youngest people in our community and go some way to giving them the recognition they so richly deserve.”
ALL THE WINNERS
• OUTSTANDING BRAVERY
0-12: Lewis Jeynes
Up until he was two years old, Lewis, 10, of Bessacar, Doncaster, was developing just as his parents expected. But he developed a limp, and began to deteriorate, developing seizures, and soon could not stand or sit up, and eventually lost the ability to swallow and speak. It wasn’t until earlier this year that Lewis was diagnosed with an incredibly rare form of Batten Disease – one of just five youngsters in the world with the condition.
Yet despite facing daily challenges, Lewis has remained happy and smiley and his bravery and courage inspires others, including hundreds of people worldwide who have joined a Facebook page describing his daily life.
13-18: David Owens
David, 16, has a rare congenital condition, Marfan Syndrome, which weakens the connective tissues in his eyes, joints and heart. He lost sight in one eye at the age of nine and last October lost the sight in the other eye, undergoing six complex operations in the six months leading up to his GCSE exams this summer. But despite this, David, from Boroughbridge, achieved 12 GCSEs, ten at grade A* or A. He is also a keen air cadet and a qualified first aider. He put his skills into action when he saw a man lying in the road and immediately went to help, administering first aid to the man, a diabetic, who had lost consciousness. His dad Gareth, who nominated David, said he was a “determined young man” who rises above his difficulties to achieve highly and help other people in need.
0-12: Evie Addelman
When Evie, of Alwoodley, Leeds, was first diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, she said she wanted to help other people with the disease she has. She started her own sponsored walk, encouraging her school friends to take part, her local supermarket has her picture and collecting tins in store, and she even donated her birthday money to the Leeds branch of Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Evie, nine, has a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page where she tells her story and raises awareness of the condition. Evie’s Way has now raised more than £3,000 and she even gives talks at her hospital raising awareness.
13:18: Mohammed Usman
Inspired by a school assembly, Mohammed, 18, of Bradford, became involved with the educational charity Free The Children. After raising more than £1,300 selling Rafiki chains to fund the charity’s work in Kenya, he became an ambassador for the charity. His enthusiasm and passion led him to be invited to speak at the charity’s We Day event in March, which saw 12,000 people gather at Wembley Stadium, sharing the stage with the likes of Al Gore, Malala Yousafzai and Prince Harry. His work has also seen him travel to India to help build a school for the charity.
• SPECIAL RECOGNITION
0-12: Reece Randall (joint award)
Reece, nine, of Bingley, was diagnosed with leukaemia two weeks before his second birthday. He was treated at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, and that treatment inspired his grandfather Colin Nesbitt to set up the charity Little Heroes to provide toys for the children on the paediatric oncology ward. Each year Reece joins his grandfather delivering presents on the ward at Christmas. Reece also stars as the main character in an activity book which guides children through the different things that might happen while they are being treated in hospital with cancer. Reece has also took part in a number of fundraising events, and holds two Guinness World Records for unusual fundraising feats.
0-12: Jack Kirsopp (joint award)
Jack, eight, has a life-limiting condition and complex medical needs, but despite this “absolutely loves life”, according to his nomination. Jack, of Doncaster, requires care 24 hours day and has a regular care routine. His stepfather, who nominated Jack, said: “He is so brave and makes me so proud. He is a massive inspiration and has changed the way I think about life. He has been through such a lot and always shows so much bravery and strength.”
13-18: Nathan Popple (joint award)
Nathan, from Adel in North Leeds, sustained catastrophic injuries at birth. He has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and speaks and types through a computer operated by a foot pedal on his chair. Despite this, he has shown determination and drive to raise awareness and campaign for the rights of wheelchair users. He won a Whizz Kids award for his work setting up the Accessible Leeds website to make his home city a better place for wheelchair users and has recently passed his GCSEs.
13-18: Ebony Fisher (joint award)
Ebony, 13, of Normanton, near Wakefield, was born with a heart condition and has had to undergo two open-heart surgeries, with more to come in the future. On top of her heart condition, Ebony has developed severe scoliosis over the last two years, leaving her in excruciating pain and requiring surgery. Last year she was asked to speak at a concert organised by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, who nominated her for the award.
• YOUNG CARER
0-12: Jacob Cassidy
Jacob, of Morley, Leeds, has helped look after his mum, who has epilepsy, since he was seven years old. If she has a seizure, Jacob puts her to bed, contacts family for support and knows how to make sure his mum is safe.
Because his mum’s medication and seizures can make her feel exhausted, Jacob helps out at home and helps to look after his two sisters. Jacob is currently training to be a Young carers Ambassador so that he can be a voice for Young Carers in the UK. He is also a high achiever at school, and his nominator said he is an “inspiration” to other young people.
13-18: Rosie King
At just 16 years old, Rosie King has presented an Emmy-award winning documentary, illustrated a children’s book and spoken at a prestigious Washington conference that was broadcast live to 150 countries worldwide. But it is for the “tower of strength” she provides her parents in helping to care for her younger brother and sister that Rosie, of Horbury, Wakefield, has been recognised.
Rosie, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, gained international acclaim when she presented a special BBC Newsround documentary ‘My Autism and Me’ in 2011. Her natural ease at explaining the condition, which affects both Daisy, 14, and Lenny, 12, led to much more awareness-raising work, including speaking at the prestigious TED conference in America.
• SPORTS ACHIEVEMENT
0-12: Miles Gilbert
Miles, of Harrogate, was born with a heart condition and has a pacemaker fitted at the age of five. Now ten years old and a keen footballer, he found a device online that would protect his pacemaker and allow him take part in the sport he loves. To fund it, he raised money through his football club and at his school and as a result raised much more than expected, with the extra money raised donated to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. The money he raised will go towards helping other children affected by congenital heart defects.
13-18: Thomas Raddings
Thomas, 16, who has Down’s Syndrome, is a successful swimmer with the Able2 Pontefract Special Olympics club. He practises for many hours each week and his hard work has been rewarded with “outstanding” swimming achievements, and has recently returned from the Down’s Syndrome British Championships in Reading. Despite this, his school work never suffers and he puts just as much effort into his studies as does his swimming.
• THE GROUP AWARD
This was made after The Yorkshire Post went to press. The finalists were Jessie’s Fund, a York charity working in children’s hospices. It started working in children’s hospices nearly 20 years ago, giving staff the confidence to use simple musical techniques as a way to communicate with children. It also trains staff in special schools, so they too can provide music therapy to the children they teach. Prism Deaf Youth Club in Bradford is based in Girlington, and helps young deaf people find confidence, make new friends and improve their social and communication skills. Able2 Pontefract Special Olympics was set up to increase participation in disability sport, raise performance standards and promote awareness of disability sport.