INSPIRATIONAL YOUTH 2023
Winner: Sophia Houlston
Sophia, was diagnosed, with two rare forms of cancer, during Covid, aged just 10.
She had to have her leg amputated, and endure, the overwhelming emotional and physical strain, and harsh treatment of chemotherapy - the brutal side effects, the nausea, hair loss, and exhaustion - and then having to relearn, the basic act of walking. Instead of allowing cancer to define her life, and control her future, she is using her tale, to inspire people, raising crucial awareness, of childhood cancer. Sophia, not only learned to walk again, but she also took it upon herself, to learn how to ride a bike! Now age 13, she's taken on a new passion, for riding, and is using it, to show the world, that nothing can stop her! As a young amputee, who had already kicked cancer's butt, she took on the incredible challenge, of riding 100km on a tandem, last September, for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Her Nominator, Lindsey Bidwell, said, “Sophia volunteers so much time to our children's cancer charity and is a real-life superhero, and a wonderful advocate of support, to other children who have cancer. She deserves such recognition, for her strength, bravery, resilience and sheer determination, alongside her beautiful big heart and smile.”
Highly Commended: Clodagh Payne
Clodagh, has worked hard to beat multiple adversities, including, some of life's most difficult situations for a young woman. She, now champions positive behaviour and inclusion, and talks openly to the media and to other young people, as an advocate for ‘Keep It 100 Youth CIC’, bravely talking out against bullying, knife crime and about healthy relationships.
Her nominator, Luisa Di Marco, Said, “You cannot fail to be impressed with Clodagh’s thoughtful approach to life. She always thinks of others before herself.”
Highly Commended: Rosemary Crawley
Rosemary’s story is a testament to resilience, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to helping others, even in the face of adversity. Rosemary’s journey has been fraught with challenges, diagnosed with Autism, she has faced unique hurdles in understanding and navigating the world around her. The challenges extended beyond autism, as Rosemary grew older, she faced mental health battles, which added an even more daunting layer to her journey. She faced many weeks in and out of hospital and she became estranged from part of her family, a heart-breaking separation which at times left her feeling isolated and alone. Yet even in the face of these immense hardships, Rosemary was unwavering in her kindness towards others and animals. She transformed her own pain into a powerful drive to make a difference in the lives of those around her. She has shown huge courage pushing herself forward and out of her comfort zone to gain an apprenticeship within a care home. The drive to help others ever present but also the drive to understanding herself, digging deep inside to experience herself in a new light. This resilience and compassion demonstrate that even in the most challenging circumstances, one person can create profound change, not only for themselves but for others in the community, she is an inspirational young lady.
Highly Commended: Jayden Nash
Jayden, who comes from Southend, was born with Downs Syndrome, yet despite his difficulties, he always tried to live as any normal healthy and energetic boy would, always enjoying being ‘on the go’. He loved singing and dancing, watching musicals at the theatre, swimming, bowling, riding a bike, basketball, walking, and playing at the park. He managed his own personal and hygiene needs, and enjoyed attending a special needs school, where he had many friends, and was doing well. Suddenly, on a normal day, in November 2022, Jayden had a random seizure. He ended up, in an induced coma, in the Royal London Hospital, where he remained, until the beginning of this year, before being moved to a ward. Jayden suffered 3 strokes, and has been diagnosed, with Hyper-trophic Cardio-myopathy and Moya-moya (HCM) a very rare condition. Jayden is a fighter … it’s a miracle, that he’s still here, he’s a real superhero, still managing to smile, and give off infectious laughs. Now, following a great deal of effort, he is beginning to talk again. Currently, unable to walk, following the loss of movement in his limbs, he is waiting, to undergo intensive rehabilitation, at Tadworth hospital. Meanwhile, he is managing a little in a walking frame, and working in a pool.
His Nominator, Carer Lisa Mallaby, said, “Jayden is a real inspiration to us all, he always enjoyed being out and about, but it’s been almost a year since he last saw the outside world. He still has so much love and care for others, he will never give up; and all his friends will never give up on him.”
Highly Commended: Charlie McCartney
Charlie is an amazing young man who celebrates his autism diagnosis and how his special brain processes information. Charlie decided he wanted to create an inclusive football team where any child could come to play football in a safe environment and feel included and understood, regardless of their age, stage or difference. From this idea of Charlie’s, Autistic FC was born. There are now approximately 50 members and are training twice a week. Charlie and Autistic FC have been interviewed on Sky Sport News and BBC Newsround and their ultimate goal would be an Autistic League. He has his own YouTube channel and has created merchandise for Autistic FC. Charlie is passionate about all things Autistic FC and has been a massive friend and inspiration to his team members.