Talented and determined young people from across the region were honoured at the 2016 Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards in front of more than 400 guests last night (17 November) at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion.
Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic medallists were named as joint Personalities of the Year in honour of their impressive performances in Rio, with four attending to receive their awards in person.
There were winners from Harrogate, Wetherby and Barwick-in-Elmet in the 24rd Awards, sponsored by McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate. The Awards mark the achievements of young people in eight categories, from the Arts to Sport, and are organised by the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation which has now raised nearly £1.2m to support young people in Yorkshire.
Among those honoured were Olympic bronze medallist Katy Marchant of Barwick-in-Elmet; twins Emily and Laura-Jane Keston of Harrogate, who won the Achievement in Management and Enterprise Award; and Berenice Gilmour of Wetherby, a Harrogate college student who took the Achievement in Education title.
The Chairman of the Awards, Peter McCormick OBE, said:
These young people, from the Olympians to our Unsung Hero, typify the best in Yorkshire and we heard some terrific stories of dedication and grit during the evening. For example, I am sure we will be hearing more about our Youngster of the Year, Lucy Sherman, in years to come!
“These Awards are also our main fundraiser of the year and none of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors and our guests on the night.
The full line up of winners was:
Personalities of the Year, sponsored by Rudding Park
Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic medallists.
For only the second time in the Awards’ history, the Personality of the Year went to a group, with Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic medallists all being honoured. Attending to receive their awards in person from Peter Banks of sponsors Rudding Park were:
Adam Duggleby from Hull, who was the sighted pilot for Paralympic cyclist Steve Bate, with the pair winning gold in both the Pursuit and Time Trial and bronze in the Road Race.
Katy Marchant, also from Leeds, who took bronze in the velodrome in the women’s individual sprint.
Nile Wilson, also representing Leeds, who became the first Briton to win a gymnastics horizontal bar medal when he took bronze.
Steve Bate, born and brought up in New Zealand but now Yorkshire-based, the Paralympian who partnered Adam Duggleby to two golds and a bronze.
Youngster of the Year, sponsored by DFS Furniture Company
Lucy Sherman, 11, of Leeds
Lucy has achieved remarkable success for someone of her age, two days after the awards completing a year-long tour of the UK and Ireland playing Jemima Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Even with the tour still in progress, she has been rehearsing for her next role in Strictly Ballroom which opens at West Yorkshire Playhouse at the end of this month.
Her talents were first spotted when she had a singing lesson at the age of seven. Her singing teacher, Opera North’s Sue Lees, recognised her obvious ability and helped her to gain her first part as a fairy in an Opera North production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Since then she has appeared in a host of productions, ranging from La Boheme to Annie.
Achievement in the Arts, sponsored by Barclays
Avigail Collins, originally of Leeds
Avigail is a stylist who has worked with some of the biggest names in show business.
Brought up in North Leeds and Scarcroft, she studied fashion at Leeds College of Art and Design before making the move to London aged 18 to take up a place at a prestigious fashion school.
She and her then husband-to-be, Damian Collins, set up their own fashion label and in 2007 the pair got three-month placements in New York, a move which was to prove a major step when they made contact with the head stylist for MTV who was working with a new singer called Rihanna.
Since then she has become not only Rihanna’s stylist but has worked with a host of household names, including Pixie Lott, Daisy Lowe, Sam Smith and Tinie Tempah.
In 2012 she and husband Damian launched their own clothing range, Silver Spoon Attire.
Achievement in Management and Enterprise, sponsored by The Wetherby Whaler Group
Emily and L-J Keston, originally of Harrogate
The twins grew up in Harrogate, one of them gaining a degree in journalism while the other achieved the same in law.
But their interest in the performing arts has led them along a different path together. As actresses, both have performed professionally, having started their careers in the original West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Their television and film credits include appearing as the infamous Jenny and Rosie Dolly in ITV’s Mr Selfridge series, The Safe House, and Bridget Jones and the Edge of Reason.
More recently, they became Executive Directors and Producers of their own business, Stagebox, to provide high calibre training in musical theatre for young people aged from seven to 18.
Originally launched in Harrogate, Stagebox is now in Leeds and Manchester and has just opened a London base. The business brings new opportunities to young performers in the Yorkshire region and currently has two youngsters going to Dubai to appear in Les Miserables and two more embarking on an international tour of Mary Poppins.
Achievement in Sport, sponsored by Leeds United Football Club
Jamie Vardy, originally of Sheffield
Jamie was born in Sheffield in 1987 and has been part of one of the greatest sporting achievements in football.
After being released by Sheffield Wednesday at the age of sixteen, he began his senior career with Stocksbridge Park Steels, breaking into the first team in 2007 and spending three seasons before joining Northern Premier League side F.C. Halifax Town in 2010.
Scoring 26 goals in his debut season, he won the club’s “Player’s Player of the Year” award, then moved to Conference Premier side Fleetwood Town in August 2011 where he scored 31 league goals in his first season, winning the team’s “Player of the Year” award as they won the division.
In May 2012, he signed for Leicester City in the Championship for a non-League record transfer fee of £1 million, and helped the team win the Championship in 2014. In the 2015–16 Premier League season, he scored in 11 consecutive Premier League matches, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record, and was voted the Premier League Player of the Season and FWA Footballer of the Year as 5000/1 outsiders Leicester won the Premier League title. He made his international debut in June 2015 and was selected for UEFA Euro 2016.
He has also set up his own Foundation, the V9 Academy, to help aspiring non-league footballers to realise their Premier League ambitions.
Achievement in Education, sponsored by Positive Tax Solutions
Berenice Gilmour of Wetherby
Berenice has made a major change in her life and education has played a key part in achieving her new ambitions.
She originally trained as a dancer and ran her own dance school for some time, bringing up her children and caring for her mother along the way.
While trying to work out how to afford a dance costume for her eldest daughter, she found a new passion in life, borrowing her daughter’s own sewing machine and designing and making her first outfit. Friends and family were impressed and more commissions followed. So delighted with her success was she that she turned her attention to the world of fashion and is currently in her third year of a Fashion Degree at Harrogate College.
She hit a new high this year when she was crowned Best Student Designer by Bridal Buyer in a ceremony at the Harrogate Bridal Show. Her stunning dress was based on a Birds of Paradise brief.
The day after receiving her award, she knocked on the door of renowned Leeds bridal designer Anita Massarella with the result that she now has an internship with the retailer while she completes her degree.
Debra Forsythe – Conroy, Principal at Harrogate College said:
What a fantastic achievement for Berenice to have been awarded this prestigious prize. Harrogate College once again is very proud of its students!
Berenice Gilmour said:
I never expected to win! I’m blown away and honoured to have been part of such an inspiring evening.
Unsung Hero, sponsored by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions
Connor Lynes, 15, of Hull
Connor was aged just one when he lost his devoted dad to a sudden illness and two years later he ended up living with his aunt and his nan when his mum was unable to cope. He then also lost his nan after a short battle with cancer and it affected him badly.
He took up Rugby League, proving a talented player, but when he was eight he was hit by a car and suffered multiple fractures to his lower leg, undergoing three operations to repair the damage. He was told he might never play Rugby again but after nine months of gruelling physio he returned to the pitch, being named Clubman of the Year in 2015 for his efforts.
However, last year Connor became very ill and it was discovered that a tackle during a game the previous day had torn an artery in his neck, causing a blood clot to travel to his brain leading to a major stroke.
Operations to remove the clot were only partially successful and he remained in a medically-induced coma for some time. When he was woken initially, he could not move one side of his body or talk but made progress over the next couple of days before suffering a second stroke. He was finally allowed home six weeks later.
Part of the clot remains and Connor spent another week in hospital earlier this month in a vain bid to remove it.
He will never be able to play Rugby again but other young people are benefiting from his fighting spirit and determination and he has now raised more than £5,000 for local charities. So successful was his own social media campaign to raise awareness of brain injury in sport, that most of the Super League teams joined in.
Special Award, sponsored by Walsh Taylor
Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson
The Special Award is made to friends and supporters of the Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards who have gone the extra mile to help raise funds to support young people in the region.
Premier League referees Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson are both long-term supporters of the Awards and this year decided to do something a bit more challenging to show their
They took on a nine-day, 1,000-mile cycling tour of every Premier League football club in England and Wales to raise funds for both the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation and another Yorkshire charity, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.
They collected cash along the route and fundraising items from the clubs before a triumphant finish at Sunderland as the final club of the tour. The final total from their efforts is expected to be around £20,000.