Young achievers in the spotlight

An “Oscars-style” ceremony for young people heard tales of outstanding courage, talent, hard work and kindness.

The Derbyshire County Council Young Achiever Awards were set up 13 years ago to highlight some of the amazing stories and achievements of young people in the county

In total 78 young people – aged four to 17 – and two groups, received awards during the ceremony held at Highfields School in Matlock on Friday, December 9, watched by 520 guests and nominators.

Former Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere handed out the awards along with Cllr George Wharmby.

Ronan Fowkes, 13, of Heanor, was nominated by Heanor Gate Science College deputy head Mark Blatchly.

Ronan has cerebral palsy and had major surgery last year. He asked for home tutoring only three days after leaving hospital and was back at school three weeks later.

He throws himself into outdoor activities and went on a trip to Lea Green last year taking part in numerous outdoor adventures, the audience was told. In June, 2011, he went on a trip to France on a water sports and outdoor adventure trip, taking part in many different activities. By the end of the trip the instructors were calling him a legend. Mark said of Ronan: “He works hard at school and is an exceptional young man.”

Edward Holmes, of Ripley, was nominated for the excellent progress he has made while at John Flamsteed Community School in Denby.

Eddie, 14, has autism, but he has worked hard to overcome a lot of difficulties and developed skills to help him in all areas of school life.

He was nominated by his teaching assistant Alison Campbell and school inclusion manager Carole Hunt who both said he had matured into an excellent friend and listener and had not let his autism hinder his education or social development. They said Eddie was an outstanding ambassador for the school.

While other children his age are out playing, ten-year-old Jake Burgin, of Somercotes, can be found running errands or doing chores. Jake is a young carer and, along with two elder siblings, cares for his mum who has arthritis. He also looks after his smaller twin brother and sister. Jake was nominated by Julie Nicholls, a teaching assistant at Somerlea Park Junior School where he is a pupil. She said every day he did lots of jobs before and after school and was always kind and caring to others.

Robert Bock, of Jacksdale, is a determined young man who joins in with every activity he can.

He has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus and walks with the help of a frame.

At school, rather than rely on the staff to make suggestions as to how he can be included in activities, the determined eight-year-old regularly makes his own suggestions on how he can take part.

He was nominated by his teacher Elizabeth Perrett, from Langley Mill Junior School, who said: “Robert never moans about his condition, or uses it as an excuse. He just sees the challenges as a stepping stone to achieving whatever he wants to.”

Sheree Banner, 15, of Somercotes, and her mum have had a very difficult few years, having to deal with bereavement and a decline in mum’s health.

Judges said Sheree, who goes to Swanwick Hall School, had coped in a very mature manner, while also becoming the main carer for her mum.

Sheree was nominated by her teacher Rose Severn who said that despite a number of pressures, she has maintained excellent attendance at school and had been determined to ensure that her school work had not suffered.

Bradley Wilson-Hunt, 15, of Alfreton, has been described as a future Olympic hope by his teacher Mat Davies at Tupton Hall School. The talented young sportsman competes in canoe slalom and is being trained by England coaches ,and currently ranks third in his division for juniors and men.

Ella Morgan, 14, of Heanor, was nominated by her mum Deby for her exceptional kindness shown towards her grandparents.

This has helped her mum in her own struggle to manage their illness and maintain a good quality of life. Deby says the Heanor Gate Science College pupil has shown extraordinary sensitivity and emotional intelligence and is always there with a hug.

Derbyshire County Council Leader Cllr Andrew Lewer said: “We know that young people have a lot to give.

“The majority of young people are doing good things in our schools, homes and communities.

“Unfortunately we do not get to hear enough about them – which is why we think it is important to recognise the outstanding achievements of these incredible young people.”