Youth achiever awards launched

Banbury Cake: Honoured: From top, Andrew Baker, Tom Gretton and Courtney Hughes Buy this photo » Honoured: From top, Andrew Baker, Tom Gretton and Courtney Hughes

PAST winners of the Oxfordshire Youth Awards opened the nominations for the 2014 awards.

Nominations for the awards, now in their fifth year, opened on Friday and close on February 17.

Last year’s awards saw more than 250 young people nominated.

The awards ceremony, to be held on March 17, is being moved from the 600-seat Oxford Town Hall ballroom to the 1,800-seat New Theatre in George Street.

Three of this year’s winners helped launch the 2014 awards on Friday.

They were enterprise winner Andrew Baker, 25, from Didcot, arts winner Tom Gretton, 18, of Blackbird Leys-based dance group Movers & Shakers, and volunteer winner Courtney Hughes, 15, also from Didcot, who raised cash for secret Santa presents for children who were in hospital on Christmas Day.

This year she has begun a similar secret Santa campaign for lonely, vulnerable people.

The Didcot Girls’ School pupil said: “I was shocked to be nominated and then even more shocked to win. I was really happy.”

The awards are run by Oxfordshire Association for Young People.

Chief executive Paul Lawrence said: “The awards celebrate all of the wonderful contributions made by young people across the county.

“No contribution is too small for a nomination if someone thinks that a young person deserves it.”

Guest presenters at the February ceremony included author Philip Pullman, ex-Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes and Oxford United striker Jon Paul Pittman.

Mr Lawrence said: “It is enormously inspiring to hear all the ways in which young people play a positive part.”

The awards are open to youngsters aged 11 to 19 in seven categories.

They are: arts superstar, sporting achievement, community champion, pride of Oxfordshire, inspirational entrepreneur, young Einstein of the year and youth project of the year.

To nominate someone, go to oxfordshire youthawards.org

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