Bassetlaw’s Lauren Hall has been crowned as the overall winner of the annual 4Uth awards – with her tale of courage an inspiration to all.
Seven district winners including Lauren were in contention for the Nottinghamshire Outstanding Achievement Award. 4Uth is a Nottinghamshire County Council initiative supported by the Nottingham Post to celebrate the achievements of young people across the county.
County Hall hosted this year’s final where the achievements of seven district winners were celebrated and the overall county-wide winner was announced. Council Chairman Councillor Carol Pepper greeted around 100 invited guests to the event and Council Leader Councillor Kay Cutts announced the overall winner towards the end of the evening ceremony.
Lauren Hall, 18, from Ranby, was initially nominated by teacher Maria Hall. In Year 10, Lauren suffered a head injury following a sudden collapse which resulted in partial vision, and she was also diagnosed with Coeliac disease which led to blood sugar problems.
Despite a very weak auto immune system she finished her GCSEs with some excellent results and joined Retford Post 16 to do her A levels and alongside her studies she took part in other activities such as.trampolining (reached Nationals and coming sixth), coaching it and tutoring street dance.
She was forced to give up sport after collapsing in March - it was discovered she had heart related problems. Despite this huge set-back, she continues to coach from the sidelines as a sports leader for the district council alongside her studies and is looking to the future positively.
Maria said: “Lauren is truly inspirational. She has the most beautiful smile and despite it fading on occasions Lauren has firmly reinstated it of late through her gritty determination, boundless energy and new career focus.”
Coun Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "The final of 4Uth was a special occasion and we were delighted to share in the celebrations of the achievements of all seven finalists.
“We’ve been hugely impressed by the quality of the nominations again this year and it was a special moment when we were able to celebrate with Lauren following the announcement that she was the overall winner.”
Lauren, 17, said: “I could not believe it when my name was read out at the end and am still in shock, but very pleased to have won. It is special that I have been nominated and voted for as the overall winner by so many people.”
Lauren received a winner’s trophy from Coun Cutts on Friday evening and also received £250 in High Street vouchers. The district winners were also presented with their trophies at the ceremony. There were 56 nominations from across Nottinghamshire this year, with nominations coming in from friends, family members, youth workers and other people who work in a range of voluntary, public sector and other organisations.
Judging panels in each district decided the winners from three nominations in each district who selected by young people, and a final judging panel has assessed the final seven.
The judging panel for this year’s final featured:
• Paige Aylward, one of Nottinghamshire’s Members of the UK Youth Parliament, from Ravenshead.
• The winner of last year’s award, Laura Hickman, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and diabetes who champions other disabled young people
• Councillor Philip Owen, Chairman of the Children and Young People's Committee, at Nottinghamshire County Council.
• Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of the Labour Group at Nottinghamshire County Council
• Councillor June Stendall, Leader, Independent Group at Nottinghamshire County Council
• Lisa Barker from the Nottinghamshire Voluntary Sector Youth Partnership.
• Matt Rooney, County Commissioner of Nottinghamshire Scouts
Here are profiles of the other district winners:
Ashfield - Eddie Lowe, 19, in Selston, nominated by youth worker Kate Pishdar. He attends Selston Base 16 Young People’s Centre.
Kate said Eddie’s confidence was once low and this was a barrier to taking part socialising and taking part in activities, but that his self-esteem has increased in the last couple of years. Kate said: “Not only will Eddie participate in activities, but he also runs some positive activities with support from staff. Since last year, Eddie has volunteered at the youth club every night. He runs the DJ booth and teaches other young people DJ skills. Eddie is a fantastic role model and is popular with the young people, especially when he volunteers at the under 14 sessions.”
Broxtowe - Dexter Atkinson, 16, in Stapleford, nominated by youth worker Paul Bailey. Dexter has just gained a place at South Notts College studying a Performance and Excellence BTEC football course.
Dexter has overcome major problems with school and in his personal life to succeed – he moved schools the year before taking his exams, but got the qualifications needed to make it to college. He plays for a number of local football teams and for the Unity football project, and has gained a coaching award and sports leadership award and helps coach a local under 9s football team.
Paul said: “Dexter has taken great strides forward and moved positively from where he was a year ago, due to him committing to positive change and refocusing his life. He is now giving his own time to help other young people in a sport he loves and deserves to be considered for this award.”
Gedling - Jordan Grayley, 16, Gedling, nominated by youth worker Roy Tomlinson. Jordan has been committed to a campaign for a skate and BMX facility for young people in Netherfield. He was a key member of Netherfield BMX group, and because he was a rider, he was perceived to be involved in anti-social behaviour due to riding with friends in public places. However, he focussed him energies on the campaign, taking part in countless events and meetings and as a member of Netherfield Loco youth centre, and now uses the completed skate park. He worked with Nottinghamshire County Council Youth Service, Gedling Borough Council, and Gedling Homes to attract £105,000 to fund a skate park, which was opened officially on March 30 with over 1,500 people attending.
Ray added: “Jordan has contributing ideas to the design of a memorial skate board shaped bench, in memory of a Gedling Borough Council officer, who sadly died shortly after taking up the young people’s campaign for the skate park.”
Mansfield - Sophie Merry, 14, Mansfield, nominated by youth worker John Reddish. As a member of the My Space youth project in Mansfield, Sophie has devoted hours of volunteering to the centre, with a key role helping to run the busy coffee bar. She also attends the advisory board for the centre on behalf of the young people. John said: “She shows maturity beyond her years dealing with such a high volume of young people who sometimes display difficult and challenging behaviours. She involves some younger members in running the bar.”
Sophie also organises games and activities with the young people, helping them develop socially and academically.
A pupil at Brunts School, Sophie helps out with a dance club at lunchtimes, volunteers for Brownies and Rainbows, and attends Guides herself. She has undertaken all of these challenges while at the same time overcoming personal challenges in her life at a young age.
Newark and Sherwood - Josh Hall, 15, Newark, nominated by youth worker Dominic O’Callaghan. Josh has attended Hawtonville Young People Centre in Newark for around two years. He takes part in all the activities on offer and has a love of dancing and singing and has taken part in the county ‘platform shows’.
Dominic explained: Josh is inspirational and he will give anything a go. Due to his love of dancing, he has been targeted by bullies at school, however he gets on with life regardless. Recently his father was diagnosed with cancer, his treatment has impacted upon the whole family. Despite this, Josh is upbeat and keen to live his life to the full. He recently interviewed for new staff at the centre and helps with the running of the centre and its management committee.”
Rushcliffe - Summer Campbell, 17, from Bingham, nominated by youth worker Matthew Trickett. Summer was a member of Bingham Young People’s Centre having left school, and Matthew offering a role as a volunteer as a coffee bar server. She has become fully involved in the day-to-day running of the bar: making signs, managing price lists, serving and handing cash. She suggested ideas to improve the visual appeal of the kitchen and youth workers are now taking forward her ideas.
Summer has also been involved in the recruitment of new staff members and has been praised for her reliability.
Her experience encouraged her to apply for a catering course and although unsuccessful, undeterred, she has now secured a college place this autumn.
Matthew said: “Throughout the time I have known Summer I have watched her progress to being an integral member of Bingham Young People’s Centre staff team and immediately thought of her when this nomination form came through. I would not hesitate to recommend her for a 4Uth Award.”