Inspiring stories of hard work, talent and selfless dedication were celebrated at the seventh annual Oxfordshire Youth Awards. Rachel Bayne reports ARECORD 1,800 people applauded the selfless efforts of young people from across the county at the Oxfordshire Youth Awards ceremony.
And organisers said this year they have seen the awards go from strength to strength.
The panel received 200 nominations for more than 700 young people and groups from across the county during the nomination period which ran from November to February.
Chief executive of Oxfordshire Youth Paul Lawrence, pictured, said at the ceremony on Monday: “We have all been blown away by the interest in this year’s awards.
“To have that many young people nominated is truly remarkable, and well beyond our expectations.”
The awards were presented to young people and groups in eight different categories.
Lord Mayor of Oxford Dee Sinclair, leader of Oxfordshire County Council Ian Hudspeth and Paralympic gold medallist Graham Edmunds were among those presenting awards.
The eight categories were for Arts Superstar, Sports Achievement, Community Champion, Pride of Oxfordshire, Inspirational Entrepreneur, Young Einstein of the Year, Youth Project of the Year and the Jake Spicer Recognition award.
Last year, 800 people attended the ceremony at the Town Hall.
But this year’s glitzy event had to be moved to the New Theatre to accommodate the extra numbers and the evening’s entertainment featured performances from a range of dance and music groups.
Award winners were selected by a youth committee including Pansy Poolman, Becca Cross, Courtney Hughes, Kirsty Rix, Dan McCall, Rachel Munday, Andrew Baker and Daniel Robinson.
Becca, 17, was thrilled to be a member of this year’s panel and helped to organise the event from behind the scenes.
The Aylesbury College student said: “I think everyone that has been involved has done an amazing job.
“When I was in year 11, Paul asked me to get involved.”
Becca jumped at the chance to help out again and hopes to carry on working with Oxfordshire Youth.
Friend Pansy, 15, said: “Oxfordshire Youth is such a fun organisation to be part of and I wanted the chance to do it again this year. I’m really grateful.”
The Wheatley Park School student was nominated for an award in 2013 and is hoping to study at the school’s sixth-form.
Mr Lawrence said: “This evening is for young people and therefore it’s important that young people have organised the event.
“We are lucky to have a very dedicated youth committee, who have all contributed to the success of the evening.”
ARTS SUPERSTAR AWARD
PRAISED for her skills with a paint brush, Amber-Lauren Ballantyne-Styles, below, from Garsington, runs her own fine art business.
The 19-year-old, above, used painting to help herself after she was bullied about her weight.
In February 2013 she sold a painting of the Olympic triathlete Hollie Avil for £100 to raise funds for the eating disorder charity B-eat.
Amber-Lauren said: "As part of my art business, I teach children in my studio after school and on Saturdays.
“The other week I was really touched to learn that one of my students, Ashley Rix, nominated me for this award. I was overwhelmed to find out I’d won the Art Superstar category, especially when there were 116 other nominees.
“It means so much to me to be rewarded for my art and I am really proud of this award.”
For examples of her art visit amber-laurenfineart.co.uk
- Musician Isaac Stuart, 14, from Banbury, was awarded second place for performances as a singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist and actor.
- In joint third place, Charles Kagunda, 17, from Littlemore, and Leona Sianga, 13, from Oxford, were praised for their works in the Arts.
HE became the youngest person to row across the Atlantic, completing the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in February.
Eoin Hartwright (main picture), 17, from Didcot, started the challenge with the Atlantic Quad at the Canary Islands on December 23 and finished in Antigua on February 5.
The pupil, from the Oratory School in Woodcote, was presented with the award which celebrates dedication to sport by the Paralympic gold medallist Graham Edmunds.
Mr Hartwright said: “The Youth Awards was an amazing evening. It was really good to see lots of young people performing and being rewarded. I really enjoyed myself.”
The keen sportsman has taken a break from the oars to help out on the farm.
He said: “I’m working on a farm at the moment helping out with the lambing. There’s other stuff hopefully in the pipeline though.”
- Thomas Everex-Armstrong, 15, from Witney, the only Oxfordshire youngster to play in the GB under-16 baseball team, won the second place award.
- Keen athlete Flora King, 16, of Oxford, was placed third. She has represented Team GB and Northern Ireland at the World Transplant Games, winning gold medals for singles tennis, long jump and ball throw, following a kidney transplant.
JAKE SPICER SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
SHE has already faced two battles with cancer in the last five years.
Now she has set herself the challenge of helping to organise the Wantage Standing up to Cancer event with her friend Mikayla Beames.
Maisie Norton, 15, from Wantage, was first diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumour on her kidney in 2009.
The King Alfred’s Academy pupil then needed 10 months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In 2011, she faced another battle with cancer and, following chemotherapy treatment at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, the teenager finished her treatment in February 2012.
Maisie helps to organise the Wantage Moonlight Walk and beamed with pride about her reward.
She said: “I feel extremely proud. I was excited before the show and am so happy. I am just really shocked and overwhelmed.”
Maisie hopes to raise more money and awareness about cancer through fundraising in her home town.
- IN January 2004, Jake Spicer was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Described as the pride of Blackbird Leys, the teenager died aged 15 in 2009 following a five-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
The pupil from St Gregory the Great School in Cowley raised thousands of pounds for charity and was named a Cancer Research UK Little Star in 2007, above.
The Jake Spicer Recognition award was presented in his memory by friend Aaron Scott, the British GT3 racing driver.
BAKING up a storm for charity, Sandford teenager Honor Boyle was thrilled to receive the award for community champion.
The 16-year-old pupil at Bartholomew School, Eynsham, regularly runs a cake stall at the Sandford village market and raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Honor was inspired to take up baking by her twin sister Claudia who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
- CAKE CRUSADER: Honor Boyle, right, with twin sister Claudia
At Christmas, the teenager made festive wreaths and table decorations to raise funds for the charity.
Honor was surprised to be presented with the award, which identifies young people who have acted in roles of leadership and responsibility in their school or community.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth presented her with the trophy.
Honor said: “It is such a shock, but I am very happy. I have a lot of people to thank, such as Abi Johnson from the market.”
Motivated by her twin sister’s condition, she said: “I have been fundraising for the last few years. It is a very good cause.
“I would like to take things to a much higher level and raise awareness for the charity.”
Honor enjoys baking cakes for the market and is the only teenager to volunteer and sell her creations at Sandford Village Hall.
- Keen rowers Kathryn Norris, Lillian Caccia, Emily Herridge, James Lyles and Sam Deutsch received the second-place trophy for community champions. The team from Cancer Research UK Sponsored Row 2014 will be rowing the 175km from Donnington Bridge to Tower Bridge this April.
- Isobel Goves, 19, from Bampton, was third for her work in setting up the Bampton Youth Club.
- IN tomorrow’s Oxford Mail, there will be interviews with the four remaining winners at this year’s awards.
The team from the Yellow Submarine Monday night club won the award for Youth Project of the Year, while Morgan Williams, 15 from Barton, Oxford, took home the prize for Inspirational Entrepreneur.
Athena Martin, 17, from Witney, was named Young Einstein of the Year and Mya Harris, 11, from Oxford, won the award for the Pride of Oxfordshire.