Teen brigade are an inspiration to us all

Oxford Mail: Members of the Oxfordshire Youth Awards committee, left to right, Courtney Hughes, 16, Becca Cross, 17, Dan Robinson, 17, Dan McCall, 20, Kirsty Rix, 16, Pansy Poolman, 15 and Rachel Munday, 17, who helped to decide the winners. Pictures: OX65990 Buy this photo Members of the Oxfordshire Youth Awards committee, left to right, Courtney Hughes, 16, Becca Cross, 17, Dan Robinson, 17, Dan McCall, 20, Kirsty Rix, 16, Pansy Poolman, 15 and Rachel Munday, 17, who helped to decide the winners. Pictures: OX65990

TALENTED and inspirational youngsters from across Oxfordshire beamed as they received awards for their work in the community.

Young people in eight categories received trophies in the seventh Oxfordshire Youth Awards at a ceremony at Oxford’s New Theatre on Monday.

In yesterday’s Oxford Mail, we spoke to four winners who picked up awards for their work in sport, the arts and volunteering.

The ceremony, which saw a record 1,800 people turn up, was moved from the Town Hall because of the numbers involved.

It was opened with a pre-recorded message from Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Witney MP said: “These awards are all about celebrating young people in Oxfordshire.

“As a proud Oxfordshire MP and Prime Minister, I would like to share my congratulations tonight.”

Organised by Oxfordshire Youth, more than 200 nominations for 700 young people and groups were entered for this year’s awards.

Winners, who were chosen by a youth panel, took home trophies on the night.

The ceremony at the New Theatre was presented by Dan McCall, 20, and 16-year-old Kirsty Rix. Dressed to the nines, the presenters were thrilled with the night’s events.

Mr McCall, a business management student at Oxford Brookes University, said: “It was a bit of a change from the town hall, the show was about three times the size of that.”

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Mr McCall, from Kirtlington, who first presented the show in 2009, took an Oscar-style selfie photo onstage. He said: “This is my third time hosting the awards. They have become so broad, so many awards and so many winners.”

Fellow co-host and student at Wheatley Park School, Miss Rix, said: “All the winners were amazing. The awards have changed so much from last year.”

The ceremony on Monday night also featured students graduating from the National Citizen Service.

The scheme, which is open to all 16 and 17-year-olds in England, helps young people to build skills for work and life through training programmes and team projects.

PRIDE OF OXFORDSHIRE.

MYA Harris has had to have more than 20 operations and treatment at the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

The 11 year-old suffers from spina bifida, but doesn’t let that stop her from living life to the full.

Oxford Mail:

Mya Harris

The Cheney School pupil fundraises for Oxford Children’s Hospital with her father, Dale Harris, and has appeared in promotional videos for the OX5 Run, which supports the hospital and is run every year at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock.

Mya was really happy to get the chance to go to the Youth Awards and said she was “really excited, but a little bit nervous”.

Mr Harris, from Cowley, said: “I am very proud of her. Leah, her mum, and I are very excited and pleased for her.

“She has obviously done a lot in her life, but for her to be recognised by someone outside of the family is great. It is nice to give her some recognition.”

Mya has three brothers, Haydon, 10, Quinn, two, and Ezra Jay, one.

She was diagnosed with spina bifida from birth and had to have operations as a baby.

  • Runner-up Isaac Jordan, 18, from Wantage, helped at home by taking on a lot of adult responsibilities from a young age.

He looked after his younger siblings, but carried on working hard at school and has now achieved a place at the Cambridge University to study English Literature.

  • Proud mum Rose Lakeman was very excited to see her daughter Chelsea finish third in the category.

Chelsea, 15, from Sandford-on-Thames, suffers from a rare genetic disorder, but still helps to fundraise for the children’s respite care charity Rosy.

INSPIRATIONAL ENTREPRENEUR.

MORGAN Williams won plaudits for his work developing pop-up restaurants in Barton.

The 15 year-old has run three separate events serving food to the community and at school, with all profits raised going to help people in The Philippines.

Oxford Mail:

Morgan Williams

The Oxford Spires Academy pupil said he could not believe he had won the award for Inspirational Entrepreneur.

Morgan, from Oxford, was motivated to help people by recent natural disasters and said: “I would like to build houses in The Philippines in the future.

“If I can change someone’s life forever on the other side of the world, then I can definitely change my own.”

Jeremy Todd, from Thrive: Barton, praised the teenager for his work in the community.

Mr Todd, from Barton, said: “We talked about what we could do with our time together in Barton.

“Morgan came up with the idea of starting up a business and giving the funds to a charity.”

Thrive: Barton works with young people from the area to help them turn their lives around.

It is a team of youth workers who have moved to Barton to reach some of the city’s most disadvantaged young people.

  • Praised for her work setting up a shoe business to raise money for the Camps International Trip to Borneo, Joyce Lo took home the second- place award.

The fundraiser has set up a business which sells hand-drawn, customised shoes.

Marcus Tucker was third. He started raising money to buy new snowboarding equipment. When his business took off, he decided to set up his own car washing business.

YOUTH PROJECT OF THE YEAR AWARD.

THEY host a social group for young adults with learning disabilities and were thrilled to receive the award for Youth Project of the Year.

The Yellow Submarine Monday Night Club is a social group for young adults aged 18-30, which offers activities such as karaoke, quizzes and trips out to nearby pubs and restaurants.

Oxford Mail:

The Yellow Submarine Monday Night Club

Manager Toby Staveley, 36, praised the young people who come each Monday to the centre in Park End Street, Oxford.

He said: “I feel proud of the guys because it really is their club. It is not funded, and the night club continues to grow in size.

“More and more people have been able to live life to the full and it is a great platform for them, for the rest of their lives.”

Jesse Reed, a volunteer at the charity, said at the ceremony: “I am ecstatic. It was quite a nice feeling and I have never been on a stage like this before. It is great to see how happy the guys were tonight and the feeling when we heard our name called out was fantastic.”

Darren Doncaster, 19, Sean Parsloe, 23, and Chris Carter, 27, were thrilled at the award and enjoyed Monday night’s awards ceremony. Mr Doncaster, a student at Abingdon and Witney College, said: “I’m so happy and very chuffed with the award. I want to celebrate at Monday Night Club.”

Friends Sean and Chris were “over the moon” with the award and hope to celebrate next week with their friends.

The Yellow Submarine charity also runs a cafe and day trips for children and adults with learning disabilities.

  • Praised for their work providing activities to young people, the North Leigh Youth Project were awarded second place.

Oxfordshire Youth received 19 separate nominations for this group, which runs residential trips and weekly activities in North Leigh.

The Youth of Bicester, a youth action team involving 15 young people which organises creative and cultural events, came third.

YOUNG EINSTEIN OF THE YEAR AWARD.

A SCIENCE enthusiast who uncovered a priceless collection of butterflies at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is the Young Einstein of the Year.

Athena Martin, 17, from Witney, impressed staff and hit the national headlines while on work experience last September.

Oxford Mail:

Athena Martin

The teenager found the rare collection while searching 3,340 drawers for specimens collected by the Victorian natural historian Alfred Russel Wallace.

Athena, who hopes to pursue a career in the sciences, rediscovered more than 300 of Wallace’s finds by reading tiny, handwritten labels pinned beside each insect.

Athena said: “I was very shocked to have received this award as I was not expecting it in the slightest. However, I was pleased nonetheless.”

  • Phoenix Sremcevic, 14, a pupil at The Cherwell School in Oxford, won second place for his volunteering in the field of science.
  • Amy Alden, 16, from Headington, was awarded third place for her work in the medical sciences and physics.

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