Shrievalty Award recipients with High Sheriff Harry Vane, at Durham Castle
At an annual award ceremony in Durham (UK) last week 21 young people were recognised for what the Northern Echo newspaper described as “courageous, selfless and community-spirited actions”. These were the recipients of the Shrievalty Awards, which were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of County Durham, the Honorable Harry Vane, in the Great Hall of Durham Castle. Individuals and groups were among the award winners, many of whom had “overcome adversity” in order to benefit others within their local communities.
One group of youngsters was responsible for reducing crime on their housing estate – 16-year-old Charnie Lamport, her 12-year-old brother Joshua, and their cousin Callum, also aged 12, came forward as witnesses in a case involving anti-social behaviour of youths, just prior to Guy Fawkes Night, last November. As a result, the perpetrators were arrested and charged with the offences, with the result that the disorder issues on the estate have now been virtually eliminated.
Another group recognised at the event was Darlington’s ‘Signing Stars’, represented on this occasion by three of its members – Hope Harvey, Jodie Fyfe and Elaine White. Signing Stars is a sign language choir from Humersknott Academy, which performs choreographed signing and singing for pensioners’ tea parties and raises money for children’s treatment charities at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
A 17-year-old – Lauren Read – was one of the individual award winners. A sporting enthusiast from Teesdale, she has given more than 700 hours of her own time, inspiring and supporting other young sportsmen and women in Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland.
VIPs present to encourage and support the award recipients included four former High Sheriffs; the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon; four Chief Constables (two of whom are currently serving); and three Mayors.
A grant-making programme is seeking to improve the lot of young people in deprived areas of the North of England. The Archbishop of York Youth Trust, which was set up by Dr John Sentamu in 2009, supports and partners with a variety of projects. It has set up a Young Leaders Award Scheme – this combines classroom learning with practical, community-based activities, and encourages young people to make a positive difference locally.
Last month students from Gateways School, Harewood, Yorkshire visited St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds, as part of the Award Scheme. They toured the hospice and its gardens, and took part in a quiz about the charity, which has over 600 volunteers, but costs well in excess of £20k per day to run. The school has selected the Youth Trust as one of the charities it wishes to support this year, and year 8/9 pupils are participating in its Award Scheme.
The Chreda Foundation – which also focuses on young people, and particularly their spiritual development – also operates as a grant-making body, and at the end of this year it will be launching a Prize Award Scheme. The Foundation, too, is especially keen to encourage leadership qualities in young people.
In Friday’s post I mentioned the fundraising efforts of British boy band One Direction on behalf of Red Nose Day, following their recent trip to Accra, Ghana. Now they have produced two commercials for the Comic Relief fundraiser. In these they explain emotionally how babies they saw dying from malaria in Africa could have been spared suffering by means of vaccinations costing just £5 each. The first clip stars Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson: Harry Styles and Liam Payne star in the second.
These guys seem to genuinely care!
On Tuesday we looked at one of the nominees for this year’s vInspired National Awards in March, which celebrate the achievements of young volunteers and aim to challenge negative attitudes towards young people. Today I’d like to mention another shortlisted young person – 16-year-old Bradley Adams, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
A sixth form student studying Performing Arts at Stantonbury Campus (which he says he selected partly for its close links to the community), the teen has been named ‘Best Young Volunteer’ in the East of England category. For the last two years he has been fundraising for a three-year-old cancer sufferer. He was inspired by a talk, at his school, about Lilly MacGlashan, and ever since has been aiming to raise the necessary funds for her to receive pioneering treatment in America (which is now underway). He has organised and taken part in a number of large scale musical productions and has even set up his own charity production company, ONIT Productions.
Like the subject of our previous article, Yakoob Seedat, Bradley has been described as “inspirational”, and the Chreda Foundation wishes to emphasise once again that it is young people like this that it will be seeking to encourage through the forthcoming Chreda Prize.
Today – the first day of 2013 – is World Day of Peace (or World Peace Day). What a fitting start to the New Year! And this year the occasion has been recognised by granting an international peace award to a brave 15-year-old girl from Pakistan.
Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai, who is from the town of Mingora in the Swat district of Pakistan, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last October, for campaigning for girls to be able to attend school without fear in that part of the country, after strict Sharia law had previously been imposed by the Taliban. Malala was hit just above her left eye by a bullet which grazed the edge of her brain. She was treated at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, after being airlifted to Britain. The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, visited her there, last month.
And today she was announced as recipient of the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award, which has previously honoured Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Clinton, among others. Hillary Clinton was also shortlisted for the Award this year. In the words of Peace Convention secretary Martin Quinn, “Malala’s courage has proved to be an inspiration around the globe. The right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age around the world and the hopes of these children are represented by the courage, determination and by the voice of Malala Yousafzai. The Taliban tried and failed to silence her and have instead amplified her voice. Though only a child herself, she has now become perhaps the world’s most admired children’s rights advocate. Her campaign to secure access to education for girls in certain regions in Pakistan has also served to highlight broader concerns such as the health and safety of the developing world’s children, women’s rights and the fight against extremism.”
The Tipperary Peace Convention, in recognising Malala’s courage, determination and perseverance, emphasises the impact she has had on people across the world. This is a very auspicious start to 2013, from a ‘youth award’ point-of-view, and one which I am delighted to feature in my first blog of the year.