Young Achievers' celebrate success

This year's Young Achievers have received their awards at a presentation ceremony at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland City Council's annual awards which celebrate the city's most talented, creative and community spirited young people were launched more than two decades ago. 

The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Alan Emerson, was joined by Portfolio Holder for Children's Services Councillor Louise Farthing and Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council Irene Lucas to help present the awards which recognise the outstanding contribution made by young people to all aspects of community life.

The Sunderland Young Achievers' awards are organised by Sunderland City Council with the support and sponsorship of the local business and community sector.   

This year's sponsors were Gentoo, R&B Group, University of Sunderland Students Union, Sunderland Governors’ Association, Nissan, Everyone Active, Sunderland City College, Sunderland Carers Centre, Sun-FM and SAFC Foundation of Light.      

The awards are open to anyone living in Sunderland aged between eight and 20 years old, and celebrate the achievements, bravery, talent and positive contribution they have made to the lives of their families, communities and city. 

The categories are Music and Performing Arts, Personal Achievement, Academic Achievement, Young Carer, Volunteer, Sport, Anti-Bullying Team, Young Apprentice and Service to the Community.  

​Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing said: “I was proud to be invited to help present the annual Young Achievers’ Awards, which recognise the skills, talent, dedication and community spirit of young people in our city.      

 “This annual event is recognition of their individual and shared talent, and commitment to improving their own lives and the lives of all those around them.  

“I believe that these awards are a great incentive for all our young people, to strive to be the best that they can be in whatever they do.”

Councillor Farthing added: “I’d also like to thank everyone who makes these awards possible. From everyone who takes times to nominate someone, to the sponsors and organisers who work so hard to stage these fantastic annual events.”    

Overall winner this year was Tom Smith, 12 from East Rainton who was presented with the Andy Neal Award 2017, which commemorates a former council employee who helped establish the Young Achievers’ Awards.

Tom won the Music and Performing Arts Category (8-13). Tom was born with a life limiting condition, hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome which means he was born, and continues to function, with only half a working heart. 

He has not allowed this hamper what he loves to do which is to write and perform. Tom recently came joint second in Gentoo’s ‘Genfactor’ competition where he performed to a 1000 strong audience.

Tom has also appeared on stage with some of the region’s leading musicians, including performing alongside them on the charity recording of The Beatles classic Help! in aid of Syrian refugees.

Tom said of his win: “I was very shocked to win. When I won the first award of the night it was amazing and I was like ‘it can’t get better than this’, then when they called my name out for the overall award I just wasn’t expecting it whatsoever. I felt very overwhelmed.”

Presenting the overall Young Achiever 2017 award to Tom, the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson said: “As Mayor of Sunderland I was delighted to present these awards which recognise and celebrate the massive contribution young people make to all aspects of life in our community.

“We can all be very proud of their achievements, and I’d like to congratulate Tom and all our winners.”

Also presented with awards were the winners of the Youth Arts Exhibition which was organised by Arts Centre Washington earlier this year.

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