Yorkshire's Finest Young People Shine at Awards
Outstanding talent and incredible courage were the hallmarks of the winners of last night’s 29th Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards, sponsored by McCormicks Solicitors.
A Sherburn-in-Elmet teenager who persuaded a man not to jump from a bridge in York was among the youngsters presented with trophies in front of more than 350 people at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion.
The Awards mark the achievements of young people in seven categories, from the Arts to Sport. Organised by the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation, the annual event has now raised more than £1.3m to support young people in Yorkshire. An eighth Award is made to a Foundation supporter.
Chairman of the Awards Peter McCormick OBE said: “Every year we are astonished, inspired and, frequently, moved to tears by the amazing stories of our winners whose achievements underline the depth and breadth of the quality of the young people in our region.
“None of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors and our guests, many of whom have been with us almost since the beginning, and I am very proud that with their help, we were able to continue our grants programme which helps young people across Yorkshire to reach their full potential.”
The full line up of winners was:
Personality of the Year, sponsored by Rudding Park
Isabella and William Flanagan, 12, of Halifax
Twelve-year-old twins Isabella and William are known to millions across the UK for their roles in Coronation Street where they play cousins.
They joined the popular soap in 2017 when they were aged just six. A producer who had previously worked with their big sister and previous Award winner Amelia on Emmerdale felt that one of them would be suitable for a role in Coronation Street and, after a successful audition, the die was cast. Just weeks later, another role became available and the producer felt that keeping it in the family might be the way forward.
Six years on, both have become established characters and have now even appeared in theatre with fellow star Maureen Lipman.
Unsung Hero, sponsored by Jamboree Entertainment
Owen Jeffers, 19, of Sherburn-in-Elmet
Owen had been enjoying a night out in York with friends in June when they noticed a man behaving oddly on Ouse Bridge near the city centre. As they watched, the man climbed on to the bridge parapet and stood up.
The teenager was concerned that the man was going to jump and walked back to the centre of the bridge to ask if he was safe. The man was very dismissive at first but as his actions became increasingly worrying, Owen knew he had to intervene.
The distressed man eventually agreed to come down from the wall if Owen took his hand, which was a particularly terrifying moment for him as he did not know if he might get pulled into the river himself.
Owen continued to talk to the man before surreptitiously signalling to a passing police van that help was required. Although the police van initially drove off, two officers returned on foot five minutes later and our winner was able to confirm the need for assistance without alerting the distressed man.
One of the officers then took over the care of the man while Owen briefed the other on exactly what had happened, and the police were able to take the man away to safety.
Achievement in Sport, sponsored by Leeds United Football Club
Archie Gray, 17, of Harrogate
Archie is a rising star at Leeds United who is firmly following in his family’s footsteps and now playing regular first team football.
He was unable to attend the Awards, having been called up for the England Elite League squad, alongside Leeds team mates Darko Gyabi and Mateo Joseph, who faced Italy on the evening of the Awards before taking on Germany on Monday.
Archie’s father, Andy, grandfather, Frank, and great uncle, Eddie, all played for Leeds where he has been showing his great skills as part of the first team at the age of just 17.
He joined the club at under-9 level and progressed rapidly through the academy, with agreement being reach with his school to allow him to miss classes to train with the first team.
He was first named on the bench 2021 before making his debut on 6 August this year when his club played Cardiff City.
Youngster of the Year, sponsored by Nabarro McAllister
Eden Smith, eight, of Holmfirth
Eden began to suffer pains in her legs and was feeling cold all the time when she was six. A visit to her local hospital saw her rushed into the LGI where she was rapidly diagnosed as having neuroblastoma and a large tumour was found in her stomach. She immediately began 80 days of chemotherapy and had a bone marrow transplant.
It took nine hours to remove the tumour. Despite the chemotherapy, doctors were not entirely happy with her progress so she then moved on to another lengthy round of high-dose chemo, including 30 days where she had to be completely isolated, her stem cells were harvested and she then went through ten rounds of radiotherapy.
Since then she has been part of a clinical trial of a vaccine in New York, making four trips to the US so far, with another due another next month. This has been possible through a marathon fundraising effort by our winner herself, her family and the community in Holmfirth, raising more than £500,000.
Her own efforts, while still in the throes of treatment, included planning to walk four miles of a sponsored walk but she actually completed 14. And her hometown turned pink to mark her birthday with a host of fundraising initiatives throughout the community.
Achievement in the Arts, sponsored by Mary and Jeremy Carter
Lucy the pianist, 13, from Brighouse
Lucy came to the attention of the public this year when she won Channel 4’s The Piano aged just 13, having overcome a series of physical challenges.
She is completely blind and has a chromosome 16 duplication, a rare condition affecting mental health with autism traits and affecting overall communication. She is hypermobile and suffers with cyclical vomiting syndrome. She is in remission from bilateral retina-blastoma and is globally developmentally delayed.
Lucy was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma when she was just nine months old, and her family were told she was blind. It soon became apparent that she was incredibly musical and, while still too young to go to school, she could play a song on a keyboard after hearing it just once.
The Piano saw her leave bystanders in tears as she performed on a keyboard at Leeds Railway Station.
She also gave a stunning performance of Debussy’s Arabesque No1 in front of 2,000 people at the Royal Festival Hall.
The young pianist was then invited to perform at King Charles’s Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle, where she played a note perfect performance in front of 18 million people.
Last month she played at Classic FM Live to a full audience at the Royal Albert Hall.
Lucy has just started recording her very own album of therapy music which will be released next year.
Achievement in Management and Enterprise, sponsored by CHR Estates
Stacey Burrows of Esholt, Bradford
Stacey has built up an amazing business, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, that has changed the lives of hundreds of young people across our region.
Her original life plan was to become a barrister, something she was successful in achieving, but then a public speaking course, designed to boost her confidence, set her off on a whole new track.
She realised the same lack of confidence she had suffered from also affected many youngsters and, driven by her enjoyment of working with young people, she set up a business offering drama and speech to enable children to reach their full potential.
This proved so successful she quit her job as a barrister and set about growing the business, forming Articulate Speech, Drama and Casting in 2013. It now has ten full-time office staff and eight teachers covering venues in West, South and North Yorkshire.
She has developed extensive relationships with production companies to ensure the children in Articulate can access the best possible opportunities in film and television, with some of Articulate’s youngsters appearing in productions including The Railway Children Return, The Duke, All Creatures Great and Small,. Gentleman Jack, Last Tango in Halifax, CBBC’s Biff and Chip and Emmerdale!
She now aims to work with underprivileged young people across the region through subsidised courses to ensure they can reveal the same potential as their peers.
Achievement in Education, sponsored by Harrogate Town
Iqra Tabassum of Bradford
Iqra has made an amazing success of her job, despite the fact that it is not what she envisaged when she set out on her career path.
She grew up in Bradford and originally planned to study biomedical engineering. She was offered a university place but suffered some health issues so, with the help of a personal academic tutor, who she describes as “inspirational”, she re-evaluated her options and chose to study civil and structural engineering at the University of Bradford.
Throughout her course, she was passionate about student representation, tutoring students with dyslexia, Ehlers–Danlos syndrome and autism in addition to her own studies.
She is now Education Officer for the University of Bradford and was described in her nomination as exhibiting “exceptional leadership, innovative thinking and an unyielding commitment to enhancing the educational experience of every student at the University”.
Her initiatives have included numerous successful events, including a Qawwali concert, student newsletters and surveys and involvement in external projects such as meeting the Kashmir Board of Investors to promote opportunities for women in STEM and her involvement in the Muslim women’s art research project.
Special Award, sponsored by GMI Property
Mike Riley of Harrogate
While the awards are primarily for young people, the Special Award recognises the contribution of supporters.
Mike Riley walked 206 miles from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, via England’s highest peak of Scafell over 14 days to raise a massive £4,000 for the Foundation.
He is a long-term supporter of the Awards and is, until the end of the season, head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body responsible for match officials in England. He has led the organisation for 13 years, overseeing the development of match officials in the Premier League, FA, EFL and National League competitions and more recently the Women’s Super League.
His walk was not without incident. A fall on Scafell led to a trip to A&E where he was treated for an injury to his elbow, a badly-sprained wrist and facial injuries.
It was not the first time he has supported the Foundation as he was also part of PGMOL’s Whistlestop Tour by bicycle of every Premier League club in the country.