Seven inspirational young people celebrated at 4Uth Awards
Thursday, 16 November 2023
Seven inspirational Nottinghamshire young people who have overcome severe health challenges or go the extra mile for others will be recognised at a prestigious youth awards evening later this month.
They have been named as the district winners of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Outstanding Achievement 4Uth Award for 2023 and will be honoured at the annual final at County Hall on Friday 24 November – where an overall winner will be announced.
The 4Uth Awards are a County Council initiative to celebrate the achievements of young people across the county.
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, and council chairman, Cllr John Ogle, will join around 100 guests for the glittering event which is now in its 12th year.
Family and friends of each of the finalists and members of the youth service will also be in attendance, with videos charting the inspirational stories of all seven young people will be showcased.
Cllr Taylor said: “The 4Uth Awards are a fantastic way to recognise and celebrate this amazing group of young people from across Nottinghamshire.
“Our finalists can be very proud of what they have achieved and the hurdles they have overcome growing up. I am really looking forward to meeting all of them at the awards evening and hearing about their remarkable stories.
“They are all stars, and I would like to thank everyone who has taken time to nominate someone special.
“I’m sure it will be a night to remember for the families and friends of all our finalists, as well as our super seven.”
There were around 70 young people nominated – with entries received from friends, family members, youth workers and 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 area, and a separate judging panel assessed the final seven.
The district winners are as follows:
- Broxtowe – Leah Cholerton – nominated by Paul Bailey
- Bassetlaw – Edward Robinson – nominated by Heather Cowley
- Ashfield – Shayden West – nominated by Zoe Taylor
- Rushcliffe – Jamie Thorley – nominated by Emma Betteridge
- Mansfield – Mia Louise Smith – nominated by Jane Penistone
- Gedling – Megan Towers - nominated by Andy Foulds
- Newark and Sherwood – Reece Martin – nominated by Laura Burrows
Leah Cholerton – Leah, 16, who attends Inspire Learning, was born with several health conditions but has grown in confidence since joining Stapleford Young People’s Centre and has developed her ‘own personal identity’.
Paul Bailey, a youth worker at Stapleford Young People’s Centre, explains: “This has been a major step and overcoming her early communication difficulties has made a huge difference in her life experiences.
“The personal determination and conscious choice she put into moving forward cannot be commended enough.
“I have to say I have been astonished by the change in attitude and the more positive Leah has become, the more she has achieved.
“This covers everything from her personal relationships to school. Leah has had a lot of one-to-one support from members of staff from the club but has taken onboard any support given and made the decision to move forward in a positive frame of mind.
“Whilst I knew of some of her difficulties, Leah never talked about them and just carried on with life.
“I can think of nobody better who has personally overcome so much in her life and remained positive and with a great sense of humour – another thing that has slowly developed in the last few years as she has gained personal confidence and happiness.”
Edward Robinson – Edward, 11, a pupil at Bracken Lane School in Retford, has become a substantial support for his family when dealing with the additional, complex needs of his younger brother.
Heather Cowley, a youth worker at Retford Young People’s Centre, where Edward attends the open access sessions, explains: “Edward has sacrificed so much to try and make life easier for his mum and younger brother.
“Instead of playing with friends, he helps his mum on hospital visits, helping lift heavy wheelchairs out of the car and keeping his brother happy on long commutes to different hospitals.
“Edward assists his mum when he gets distressed and helps with chores around the house and making areas safe for his brother.
“He has learnt compassion, resilience, and patience. His caring nature shows at school when someone is injured or upset, Edward will be the first one there to help, lend an ear or do the best he can to help.
“Growing up in a home where his sibling takes so much care and intervention, he never complains or resents his brother.
“Just like any other young person who has a sibling with additional needs, it can be challenging, emotionally tough and draining.
“Edward just gets 'stuck in' dealing with all the bad times, never complains and values and enjoys the good times.
“He will continue to grow up into the most caring, understanding young man.
“When Edward is at the youth centre, he always has a smile on his face, he never complains when asked if he has had a good week. He has a few good friends at the youth centre and will often show a caring nature to them if they are feeling down or having problems.”
Shayden West – Shayden, 16, who attends Quarrydale Academy at Sutton-in-Ashfield, has gone from being a ‘very shy young male’ who struggled to converse with other youngsters to someone who is a ‘bubbly, outgoing, supportive young man’.
He is now also a Member of Youth Parliament for Ashfield and runs his own group session at the Quarrydale Young People Centre, with the support of a youth worker, to help young people make themselves ‘more positive and have a better outlook on life’.
Zoe Taylor, a youth worker at the Quarrydale Young People Centre, says: “Shayden has made changes to these young men’s lives by having genuine conversations with them about what affects them and how they can make changes to make sure they live their lives to full capacity and enjoy it.
“During these sessions, he has a set topic each week which they choose among themselves, and he sets tasks, does his research to ensure he can support them to the best of his ability.
“Shayden also runs a management committee once a week which is targeted work with a group of young people to see what changes we can make within the centre to make it as welcoming, fun and the best experience it can be for everyone who attends.
“He has grown in confidence and self-esteem over the last 18 months. Shayden is also empowering other young people to make positive changes for themselves, and they see him as a positive role model.
“We believe that he should get this award for all the hard work that he does on a day-to-day basis and all the support that he gives out to all his peers around in.
“I feel that this will support Shayden to feel that all his work is recognised and doesn’t go a miss.
“He is well deserving and should be recognised and awarded for all that he does for the community, the district and all the people around him.
“I feel that this will also support Shayden to take his next big step in life and remind him that he is more than capable of earning awards such as this one.”
Jamie Thorley – Jamie, 20, has overcome ‘many personal challenges’ to become a voice for young people who are in care – drawing on his own experiences and ‘personal struggles’ of once being in care himself.
He now dedicates much of his spare time to the Children in Care Council which aims to improve, influence and shape services for young people in Nottinghamshire.
Emma Betteridge, a youth worker for Nottinghamshire’s Children in Care Council, explains: “The impact that Jamie has also made in his personal life throughout has been huge.
“When I first met him, he was very shy, didn't speak up in groups and was actually going to stop attending because I was new, and he found the change so overwhelming.
“I am so glad I managed to convince him to stay.
“Whilst dedicating his time, Jamie has faced many personal challenges of being in care alongside leaving care and has worked super hard to stay on track – which has not always been easy for him.
“I am very proud to say that he is our chairperson for Children in Care Council No Labels, which means he now represents all the groups and is a great role model advocating and ensuring young people’s voices are heard.”
Mia Louise Smith – Mia, 13, a pupil at Queen Elizabeth Academy in Mansfield, is a caring young person who has done so much to help others by tirelessly devoting many hours to fundraising in the community.
She has also overcome her shyness to perform at an open mic night, something she would not have considered doing less than six months ago.
Jane Penistone, of MyPlace young people’s centre in Mansfield, says: “She also worked with others to organise a band night at a local pub for which she went to all the meetings with the manager.
“At the time she was seven years old. She’s also done events like walking 6,000 steps a day and a sponsored haircut to raise funds and awareness for good causes.
“Mia has also volunteered over 150 hours with the police cadets, shadowing the police at community events such as the Emergency Services Day at Wollaton Hall in May.
“She should win the award because she has overcome so many things in her time with the youth service, such as her shyness and confidence to perform, and for the fact that she has had the drive and ability to fundraise using her own initiative.
“Mia cares deeply for her peers and encourages them to do their best and get involved.”
Megan Towers – Nottingham Academy student Megan, 15, deals with challenging health issues with dignity and bravery and has become a positive mentor for her peers at The Loco young people’s centre in Netherfield.
She has grown in confidence since attending the Spotlight Theatre Group in Netherfield, which has led to her performing three roles in a production of Matilda at the Nottingham Arts Theatre.
Megan also plays a key role in a dance project at the young people’s centre, where she encourages other youngsters to take part.
Andy Foulds, a youth worker at The Loco young people’s centre, explains: “Megan benefits a lot from discussing her challenges with youth support workers.
“I have known her for several years now and her development brings me great happiness professionally. The youth club is a great outlet for her.
“Megan continues to face challenges in her life, but I am impressed at the mature, considerate, and helpful young person she is becoming.
“She continues to develop and, as we approach her exams year, this award would give her a great boost.
“We will work alongside her in offering support when she makes her post-16 choices, which seem to be heading down the road of performing arts.
“It’s not easy being a teenager at the best of times but Megan faces up to things with a sense of humour, determination, and self-sufficiency. She is an inspiration.”
Reece Martin – Fifteen-year-old Reece, a student at Dukeries Academy in Ollerton, has proven to be a key ‘asset’ at Dukeries Young People’s Centre, where he ‘helps out so much’, and ‘volunteers in the local community’.
Laura Burrows, previously the youth worker at Dukeries Young People’s Centre, explains: “Reece is always up for supporting his young people's centre and a new challenge.
“He works hard every Saturday at our cook and eat sessions to help cook in the kitchen.
“Reece also cooks most senior sessions too for his peers. He is a member of the local Army Cadets, and he also volunteers at the local leisure centre all while still completing his schooling.
“Reece works hard and puts 100% into all he does. He is an asset to the centre. And we are so proud of his personal growth over the last few years. Well done!”