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Meet three award-winning inspirational young people

Posted onPosted on 5th Dec

Inspirational young people who have overcome severe health challenges or go the extra mile for others were recognised at a prestigious youth awards evening.

They were named as the district winners of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Outstanding Achievement 4Uth Award for 2023.

The awards are a county council initiative to celebrate the achievements of young people across Nottinghamshire.

Among the seven district winners were: Ashfield — Shayden West, nominated by Zoe Taylor; Mansfield — Mia Louise Smith, nominated by Jane Penistone; and Newark and Sherwood — Reece Martin, nominated by Laura Burrows.

And Shayden was crowned this year’s countywide Outstanding Achievement 4Uth award winner at County Hall, West Bridgford, in recognition of his tireless voluntary work and the support he provides young people in his community. The 17-year-old, who attends Quarrydale Academy, Sutton, is also a former Member of Youth Parliament for Ashfield.

He was nominated for the award by Zoe Taylor, a Youth Worker at Quarrydale Young People’s Centre.

She said: “Shayden supports with weekly group sessions to help young people be more positive and have a better outlook on life.

“He sets a topic for each group session to discuss male mental health and how they can make changes to live their lives to full capacity.

“There are a lot of young people who need his help and appreciate the support that he offers them. Year 7s, who have started coming to the centre, will see him at school and ask him questions or for help with things, because they feel more comfortable”.

Shayden also volunteers at a homeless centre at weekends, alongside his Saturday job, and has helped to set up a sensory garden for adults with learning disabilities at an allotment in Sutton.

Dedicating four nights a week to volunteering at the Quarrydale Young People’s Centre, while juggling his A-level studies, Shayden’s kind and helpful nature is appreciated outside the centre as well.

Coun Tracey Taylor, cabinet member for Children and Families, hailed Shayden’s dedication to helping others improve their lives.

She said, “Shayden’s relentless efforts to support the young people in his community could not go unnoticed.

“Supporting with weekly group sessions at the council’s Quarrydale Young People’s Centre, alongside working towards his A-levels, is a huge commitment for someone his age.

“I commend him for taking on such responsibility and helping to make a positive and influential change to those around him whilst doing so.

“The passion and enthusiasm that he has shown for being a mentor and providing a regular support network to aid those with mental health challenges is inspiring to so many.”

The annual event at County Hall brought together all the county’s seven district winners and their proud families, who watched videos showcasing their triumphs and inspirational stories.

The event was attended by around 100 guests, including members of the youth service and the chairman of the council, Coun John Ogle.

He said: “This is the 12th year of the 4Uth Awards and each year we are consistently amazed at the difficulties they manage to overcome, while managing to help and support others as well.

“They are all very deserving and should be extremely proud of themselves, as I am sure Nottinghamshire is.”

There were around 70 young people nominated — with entries received from friends, family members, youth workers, and people who work in a range of voluntary, public sector, and other organisations.


Shayden West

Shayden, 16, who attends Quarrydale Academy, Sutton, has gone from being a very shy young man who struggled to converse with other youngsters to someone who is a bubbly, outgoing, supportive young man.

He is a former member of the Youth Parliament for Ashfield, and runs his own group session at the Quarrydale Young People Centre, with the support of a youth worker, to help young people make themselves more positive and have a better outlook on life.

Zoe Taylor, a youth worker at the young people centre, said: “Shayden has made changes to these young men’s lives by having genuine conversations with them about what affects them and how they can make changes to make sure they live their lives to full capacity and enjoy it.

“He is also empowering other young people to make positive changes for themselves, and they see him as a positive role model.”


Mia Louise Smith

Mia, 13, a pupil at Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, Mansfield, is a caring young person who has done so much to help others by tirelessly devoting many hours to fundraising in the community.

She has also overcome her shyness to perform at an open mic night, something she would not have considered doing less than six months ago.

Jane Penistone, of MyPlace at Westfield Folkhouse Young People’s Centre, Mansfield, said: “She also worked with others to organise a band night at a local pub, for which she went to all the meetings with the manager.

“She’s also done events like walking 6,000 steps a day and a sponsored haircut to raise funds and awareness for good causes.

“Mia has also volunteered over 150 hours with the police cadets, shadowing the police at community events such as the Emergency Services Day at Wollaton Hall in May.

“Mia cares deeply for her peers and encourages them to do their best and get involved.”


Reece Martin

Fifteen-year-old Reece, a student at The Dukeries Academy, Ollerton, has proved to be a key asset at Dukeries Young People’s Centre, where he helps and also volunteers in the community.

Laura Burrows, previously a youth worker at Dukeries Young People’s Centre, said: “Reece is always up for supporting his young people’s centre and a new challenge.

“He works hard every Saturday at our cook and eat sessions to help cook in the kitchen.

“Reece also cooks most senior sessions too for his peers. He is a member of the local Army Cadets, and he also volunteers at the local leisure centre, all while still completing his schooling.

“Reece works hard and puts 100% into all he does. He is an asset to the centre. We are so proud of his personal growth over the last few years. Well done!”