Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards celebrate their landmark 21st anniversary

PUBLISHED: 11:23 20 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 20 September 2013

2010 Personality of the Year Kimberley Walsh

2010 Personality of the Year Kimberley Walsh

Archant

What do Gaynor Faye, Mel B, Clare Teal and Jessica Ennis-Hill have in common with Michael Vaughan, Chris Moyles, Alistair Brownlee and Kevin Sinfield? As well as being hugely talented and from Yorkshire, they are all previous winners of the Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards which this year celebrate their landmark 21st anniversary.

The awards have come a long way since their inception. The event began as a lunchtime ceremony at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds, with actor and screenwriter Colin Welland as guest speaker and music from the West Yorkshire Police Band, and is now a gala dinner for around 400 people at the home of Leeds United, one of the event’s long-term sponsors.

The awards recognise young people who were born, live or work in the region. As well as the famous and talented, they mark the achievements of young people in all kinds of ways, from overcoming huge obstacles in their own lives to making a real impact on their communities.

For many years the awards raised funds for the Yorkshire activities of a national children’s charity but the 18th anniversary marked the birth of the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation, a brand new charity set up to distribute the funds direct to a wide range of individuals and projects across the region.

Grants have included one to help set up an Indian Music Youth Orchestra in Leeds; a number to schools for special projects; a day out for members of the Down’s Syndrome North Yorkshire Support Group and the funding for a soft play area at a special school. A young athlete from Northallerton and an actress from Scarborough have received help with their training costs, while an eight-year-old from Ripon attract huge attention at this year’s launch with his wheelchair tandem, a specially adapted cycle which lets him go on family bike rides.

It would be poetic if the total raised by the awards could reach the £1million mark in their 21st year but foundation chairman Peter McCormick OBE is not counting any chickens. ‘One of the strengths of the awards as a fundraising event is consistency. We work hard to keep costs to a minimum, with our trustees taking on a whole range of tasks, and, if you average it out over the years, we raise around £47,000 a year. It would be marvellous to think we could hit the million this year but the economic background means that I will be extremely happy if we can maintain our average.’

This year’s awards are bound to prove yet another emotional evening for nominees and guests alike. Every year offers new stories of courage in adversity and determination to succeed and the fact that the awards have reached their 21st year proves just what a pool of potential winners there is in Yorkshire.

This year’s Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards, sponsored and run by McCormicks Solicitors, a leading Harrogate-based Yorkshire law firm, takes place on Thursday, November 14th at the Centenary Pavilion at Leeds United.

For full details, visit yorkshireyoungachievers.co.uk or contact Sonia Jones at McCormicks Solicitors on 01423 530630.

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