Winners of the Pride of Somerset Youth Awards 2021 announced

The achievements of eight remarkable young people have been recognised in the 2021 Pride of Somerset Youth Awards. In an online ceremony which will be released on Somerset Day, 11 May, BBC Radio Somerset’s breakfast programme presenter Claire Carter congratulated the winners. Each young person has received a certificate and a gift voucher with support from the Rotary Club of Taunton, Somerset Day Community Interest Company; Avon and Somerset Police and Young Somerset. 

 Awards were made in eight categories:     

 Enterprise – During the covid lockdown Sophie Leith and Gabrielle Harrison started a community newspaper which they delivered to residents of their village, West Buckland. Despite returning to school they continue to edit the publication and spend weekends delivering it to the appreciative readers. The nomination emphasized that Sophie and Gabrielle have not charged a penny for the paper but instead enjoy the positive impact their efforts have had on local residents.       

 Overcoming physical adversity – Amy Keitch is a member of Taunton and District Air Training Corps and despite serious medical conditions she has achieved the Duke of Edinburgh scheme’s prestigious Gold award, completed the 35 kilometre Ten Tors hike, paddled 20 miles down the Ardeche River in France and qualified as a lifeguard. Her nomination declares that ‘Amy is a truly brave, kind and remarkable young lady who is a total inspiration’.        

 Overcoming social adversity – Elias Abiye lives in Yeovil but was born in Eritrea and lived with relatives after losing his parents in early childhood. He came to the UK in 2018 as an asylum seeker. Elias has worked hard to complete the coveted Gold Duke of Edinburgh scheme award which involved volunteering in a charity shop, playing 5 a side football and learning how to swim.  His nomination states that ‘Elias is the first Somerset Care Leaver to achieve the Gold DofE awards and is an inspiration to others’.

 Cultural activity – Emily Vernon from Taunton has struggled with self-esteem since she had Alopecia aged 6 but she took solace in music. Emily has achieved grades in a variety of instruments and won her age group’s prize in the Taunton Music Festival for singing and flute.  Her efforts have been rewarded with a place in the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain.  

 Charity – Charley Jones of Mark has raised money for charity every year since the death of her grandfather. She raised £1,560 for Cancer Relief from a quiz held in her village hall and £1,343 for SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). Charley has also organised coffee and cake mornings and will be hosting another quiz when lockdown regulations permit. Her nominee and all her family are very proud of what she has achieve and are sure that it would have made her late granddad very proud.

 Sport – Fin Bendle lives in Taunton and, following the still birth of his baby brother in 2017, Fin and his family had huge support from Musgrove Park Hospital. Fin wanted to do something to help the hospital’s maternity unit so, as he plays for Somerset Under 12’s he decided to bat for the duration of a one day cricket game (100 overs). His outstanding effort raised over £11,000 for his ‘100 Over Smash’ and he batted for more than 6 hours facing in excess of 600 balls. Fin received many messages of support during the day and a personal visit from Somerset and England cricketer Jack Leach. He was commended not only for his fundraising but for smiling throughout the day.  

 Volunteering – Owen Greenslade-Yates of Taunton created his own campaign which he named ‘Owen’s War on Plastic’. He delivers his message to fellow students in assemblies and speaks out on environmental issues. Owen was also commended for helping the emergency services by directing traffic around an ambulance while the paramedics treated someone. He is a volunteer on the West Somerset Railway, arriving early to set up and serve food and drinks at Bishops Lydeard. He was nominated for his outstanding commitment to his school and the wider community.                                                                                                                 

 The Sandy Padgett Award – given in memory of a former district police commander – was presented to Esme Achiro of Wincanton. Esme was aged 6 in the back of the car driven by her mother who became very ill. Having pulled over to the side of a busy dual carriageway her mother’s condition quickly deteriorated and, although very scared at the time, Esme realised the seriousness and dialled 999 for an ambulance. She was able to guide the medical team to the location using the car’s sat nav device. Despite being so young at the time, her ability to stay calm under pressure played a significant part in aiding her mother’s treatment. A police spokesperson said, ‘The bravery and courage of Esme in such atraumatic situation cannot be underestimated and is truly deserving of recognition’.  

 Peter Renshaw of Taunton Rotary Club announced, ‘This is the 14th year of the Pride of Somerset Awards and as it was not possible to hold the awards last year it was felt by the organisers to be important that the achievements of Somerset Young People should be recognised’.  

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