SOME of Darlington’s most outstanding young people had their achievements and hard work recognised at the 19th annual Vibe Awards.
Comedian Patrick Monahan acted as compere for the event, at Darlington Civic Theatre, on Tuesday (March 11) evening.
More than 300 nominations were received for the awards, which celebrate the achievements of people aged between ten and 19.
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Hundreds of people attended the awards evening, which was opened with a performance of a James Bond medley by youngsters from Stagecoach.
Awards were presented in six categories – contribution to the community, contribution to sport, contribution to the arts, achievement against the odds in learning, achievement against the odds in life and the final award of the night, the overall Star Vibe award, presented for the first time this year.
The evening was rounded off with a performance by members of the Red Hall dance company.
Roll of honour…
Ben Marshall was named the winner of the first-ever Star Vibe award. The 11-year-old is the primary carer for his sick mother.
Despite his busy schedule at home, Ben keeps his school work to a high standard and is praised for his high work rate, organisation and effort.
Darlington Youth Partnership was chosen as the winner of the contribution to the community award.
In November last year, some of the group represented the UK at a conference in the Netherlands. They also played a key role in organising workshops for young people interested in becoming Darlington’s youth MP.
The other nominees were Adam Howell, who volunteers for a number of organisations in Darlington, including St Mark’s Church, and the 1689 Group, a group of students of Carmel College dedicated to reaching out to those with disabilities and learning difficulties.
In the contribution to sport category, the runners-up were Carla Marie Diaper and Amy Alderson.
Carla is an assistant with exercise class specialists Fit Lab and Amy is an outstanding junior triathlete who qualified for the 2014 European Under 20 Sprint Triathlon championships aged just 16.
The winner was Ben Liddle, who started training in karate in 2006, aged just nine. He has trained religiously ever since, earning his black belt, and has won a number of championships and trophies.
Bayleigh Firth was the winner in the learning category.
The 11-year-old has cerebral palsy, but she does not let this stop her from doing the same thing as her peers.
She is described as a role model to her fellow students at Longfield Academy and her hard work and determination are an inspiration to others.
Also shortlisted were Sophie Bryant and Ryan Burton.
Sophie underwent two operations to remove a cyst on her brain in 2012 and has worked relentlessly to catch up since returning to lessons at Hummersknott Academy.
Ryan has had a number of health issues and began attending sessions at youth hub C:The Box, in Priestgate, in September 2012, to catch up on the skills had missed out on during his school days and has blossomed since then.
Sophie Harrison was the winner in the contribution to the arts category. A talented singer and actor, she has been involved in performing arts for many years. She introduced a successful glee club into her school, St Aidan’s Academy, last year.
The others shortlisted were 12-year-old Macy Stasiak, who recently completed an 18-month stint in the West End musical Billy Elliott, and Josh Morrison who has won praise for his animated series, the Adventures of Josh and Del.
Queen Elizabeth (QE) Sixth Form College student Amy Weatherburn was victorious in the achievement against the odds in life category.
She impressed college staff for maintaining a warm and friendly attitude in the face of the demands of her home and college life, as well as her own health battles.
Amy suffers from Crohn’s disease, as well as helping to care for her parents. Her father has epilepsy, while her mother, who passed away recently, had multiple sclerosis. She is taking a gap year before pursuing a career in teaching.
The other finalists were Darlington Association on Disability volunteer James McElheran and profoundly deaf QE student Fred Milman whose academic achievement has been outstanding.