A CARING and resilient teenager has been recognised for the voluntary work she does in her home town.

Xena Taylor, from Willington, County Durham, has been described as an “inspiration” and “someone who sees the best around her” despite facing adversity in her own life.

The 14-year-old completed a Young Leadership Qualification via Durham Sports last year and dedicated much of her spare time to helping out at Willington Open Door Methodist Church – all whilst her dad was seriously ill.

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Sue Hine, who runs the church, said: “Xena has faced difficult personal issues and has impressed her family, friends, and others who have supported her through the challenges she faced with her quiet determination.

“Xena has been helping as a volunteer at Willington Open Door Methodist Church for some time and is sensitive and very supportive to others.

“She has proven to be a hard worker who undertakes any task asked of her with a smile.

“Xena you are an inspiration to others to see the best in all that is around you. We wish you well in the future and thank you for all you do for our community.”

Xena Taylor won the Young Achiever of the Year trophy

Xena Taylor won the Young Achiever of the Year trophy

In recognition of her public spirit, Xena won the Young Achiever of the Year trophy and £100 in the annual awards led by Charity Shop 4U.

The volunteer-led shop sells second-hand clothing, music, books, and household goods but is best known for its annual grants and prize initiative for outstanding local youngsters.

The shop has given out more than £17,000 since it began granting awards in 2018 and in 2021 awarded almost £6,000 to 16 individuals, schools, and voluntary groups in Hunwick, Page Bank, Oakenshaw, Willington and Sunnybrow.

Runner-up Bede Donkin

Runner-up Bede Donkin

The 2021 runner-up for the Young Achiever award, with a prize of £50, was Our Lady and St Thomas Catholic Primary School pupil, Bede Donkin, seven, who endured two years of treatment to overcome leukaemia.

She ran The Great North Children’s Run raising £1,064 for the Brave Little Hearts charity and funds for her school and its running track.

Other young achievers whose efforts won prizes of £25 each included previous winner and Team Warrior TKD Willington member, Amy Bone.

The 17-year-old last year maintained her place on the Great Britain Taekwondo team and was selected for the European Championships.

Joseph Davis, 15, of Hunwick plays at Willington Cricket Club and has risen to senior level after representing the club at all levels since he was six years old. He hit 131 off 88 balls for the first team against Felling CC this year. He is a member of Durham County Under 15s and was selected for The North of England to play at the ECB Bunbury Festival.

William Maddox McGurk, nine, created a Facebook page called Hunwick Rocks that encouraged people to paint rocks and hide them around the village to help cheer up others and feel a connection during lockdown.

They were as follows:

• 4th Willington Scout Group – for the group to camp at Moorhouse Adventure Centre and minibus hire

• Hunwick Cricket Club –fees for three volunteers to be trained for coaching qualifications

• Hunwick Community Social & Environmental Group –planting sessions to provide healthy snacks

• Little Stars Early Years – Toothbrushes, paste, and information packs to all its new starters and to provide all children with a book as a birthday and Christmas present

• Louise Claire Strike, 17 – help with further education costs and travel to gain university places

• Oakenshaw Community Foundation – Coached outdoor sports sessions for young people

• Oscar Lee, 13 – Prescription goggles so he can keep on playing as a football goalkeeper

• A boy of 12 was given help with study equipment

• Our Lady and St Thomas School – Outdoor gym, furniture, and play equipment

• St Stephen’s CE Primary School – Waterproofs and Wellingtons for Early Years children to use on forest walks

• Sunnybrow Primary School – to revamp outdoor area.

• Team Warrior TKD Willington – Body armour, mats, and electronic scoring equipment

• Willington Cricket Club – Cost of training in winter months, training of new coaches, new equipment and hire of leisure centre

• Willington Open Door Methodist Church – Small picnic table for outdoor activities and art event with local artist for young people

• Willington Youth Under 9s Blues football team – Training clothes, playing and training fees

Chair of trustees, Rosalind Glasper, said the standard and number of entries increases each year.

She said: “It is great to be able to reward the young people and their groups, schools, and clubs for their incredible efforts and achievements.”

Mrs Glasper also thanked their customers for making a difference and paid tribute to the efforts of the shop’s volunteers who manage to keep it open six days a week.

“We are so grateful to our growing number of customers because all of this money we give out, comes from their purchases.

“Our amazing volunteers should be so, so proud of their tireless work. Many are older people but all bring incredible energy and commitment.

“Thank you to all who help,” she said.

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