Toby Wheeler - Inspirational Youth Winner
Toby, who has quadriplegic Cerebral palsy, read about the efforts of Jessica Grocott and her family trying to raise funds to access therapy only available in the US for her 2 year old son Angus, who also has quadriplegic Cerebral palsy. Toby along with the help of his carer Harriett contacted Jessica to say he would like to help ‘team Angus’ Toby and carer Harriett worked tirelessly to organize the ‘wheeler way race’, A race held at Essex University for individuals with disabilities. It was an enormous success fully supported by the community. The day was extremely emotional and inspiring. Toby himself was one of many pushing themselves on the day. Toby started walking with the aid of a specialized walking frame just a few years ago. He has gained strength and confidence since having spinal and hip surgeries and through hard work and determination, combined with a physiotherapy program, has gradually increased the distance he can achieve. He managed to walk the whole race in his walker (something he could never have dreamed capable of a year previous), there were also other entrants carried over the finish line by family members. And Angus also joined in! What a day! Toby is an inspiration and certainly puts others before himself.
Denvar Spencer - Highly Commended
Denvar always puts every one else first. Shehelps look after her six-month old special needs niece. She dances for fundraisers to educate children in Guiana. She gives half her pocket money to water aid. Although bullied at school she still achieved good grades. She dances and performs all over to UK and never brags. Denvar is a confident to all her friends has been her mother’s rock since her Granddad passed away. Her Mother Tammie says:
‘Denver often goes without to give to others. She works so hard at school, at home
and with her dance. She is always happy and smiling, she really is a special soul.’
Callum Riordan - Highly Commended
Callum got the taste for caring for others by looking after his older sister Georgina, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He went on at 13 to be an ambassador for PARC (Play and Resource Centre) Essex, going into primary schools and talking about the charity. Aged 16 he went to work as a play worker for PARC, whilst completing his BTEC in sports and science. This year he is doing voluntary work for John Bosco at Halstead, looking after younger boys. Callum is a naturally caring, loveable, and funny boy who watches out for anyone who needs help. He is capable of dealing with all situations and is one of PARC Essex strongest play workers mentally and physically. He always tries to give the person he is looking after a lovely time. He doesn’t look on work as anything but a vocation. When younger he was an altar boy and gets a lot of comfort from his religion. Callum always helps his mother and sister with open house cafes raising funds for different charities. Callum visited South Africa with the family, to a baby special needs home and school. Bringing with him donations of boots and kits for a football academy. He used his time there to help in the school.
Connie Lunn - Highly Commended
In 2013 Connie was a pupil at Hedingham School where after seeing the life saving benefits of a defibrillator she set up a fundraising campaign to get one placed in the school. In 2015 youth services in the area were reduced and volunteers from the community were requested to help run youth
provisions. Connie stepped forward as soon as she was 18 to volunteer on
the Essex Youth Bus at Halstead. She said it was because she had enjoyed
attending the bus herself and wanted other young people to have the
same opportunity. In 2017 due to the increase in numbers of young
people attending the session was moved to Halstead Resource Centre,
one session a week increased to two sessions a week. Connie volunteers
at both sessions, which has encouraged other young people to consider
becoming volunteers. Connie has been a member of St Johns Ambulance
since she was six years old and in 2012 was awarded a Grand Prior Award,
which is the highest accolade a St Johns Cadet can achieve, she is still part
of the St Johns 'family'.
Her nominator Anne Thrussell said, ‘There are not enough words to
describe how much commitment Connie shows in her volunteering. She is
reliable, conscientious, a good listener and communicator as well as a
great role model for the young people of the area. Although Connie is only
21, she has considerable experience of volunteering and has already
provided a great service to the local community’.
Peter Redwood Smith - Highly Commended
Peter has undertaken a number of extreme endurance events (marathons, ultra-marathons and adventure races) to raise money for charity, including supporting military veterans, all whilst dressed in a Superman costume and carrying a heavy pack. He has raised tens of thousands of pounds. Peter started running to overcome mental health issues including depression and has put his body on the line to complete some of his more extreme challenges. He wants to raise awareness for mental health issues as well as all the charities he supports. He certainly is an inspiration.