30 June 2016

Some of the county’s most inspiring young people have been honoured at Northamptonshire’s fourth annual Youth Ambition Awards.

Winners included a play about bullying created and performed by pupils, a teenager who leads a group working to improve services for looked after children, and a youth project targeting stigma around mental health.

Alison Li (CDS) with Leah Thompson the winner of the Young apprentice of the year award and Cllr Golby

The awards, organised by Northamptonshire County Council, were presented at a special event at Wicksteed Park yesterday (Wednesday) to recognise some of the fantastic things being done by children and young people across Northamptonshire.

This year, for the first time, the winners received a £200 cash prize, plus there was a special recognition award for a finalist who didn’t win in their category but who deserves to be recognised.

The six awards are:

  • Young Apprentice of the Year Award – sponsored by CDS
  • Young Role Model of the Year Award – sponsored by Centurion Training Solutions Ltd
  • Project or Campaign of the Year Award – sponsored by Canon
  • The Taking Charge of Your Life Award – sponsored by Prospects Services
  • The Arts Award – sponsored by RJDM Studios
  • The Special Recognition Award – sponsored by Galliford Try

Also supporting the Youth Ambition Awards are Guidant Group, Print Projects and CIPD.

County council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Matthew Golby, who presented the awards, said: “This is the first Youth Ambition Awards I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of and it was a really moving occasion.

“You can’t help but be moved by some of the inspiring stories we’ve heard, and all the children and young people who were shortlisted for an award should be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to nominate a young person for one of our Youth Ambition Awards and to our sponsors who have helped to make this such a wonderful event.”

The Youth Ambition Awards are held in conjunction with Northamptonshire Newspapers’ Education Awards.


Young Apprentice of the Year – Leah Thompson

Leah, 20, recently completed an 18-month apprenticeship with public sector shared services organisation LGSS and has recently earned a full-time job as a digital information officer, working on Northamptonshire County Council’s website.

Her manager Richard Beards said: “The commitment, professionalism and maturity Leah shows about creating a career for herself are what really stand her apart. She is having a real impact on the success of the team.”

Young Role Model of the Year – Joe Plumb

Eighteen-year-old Joe grew up in care and despite having a number of complex health issues, he has taken on the role of chairman of the Children in Care Council for Northamptonshire. He recently gave a presentation to social workers and other professionals about the health and wellbeing needs of looked after children, and has also launched his own anti-bullying charity.

Louise Crookenden-Johnson, who works in children’s social care and was one of two people to nominate Joe for the award, said: “Joe has offered invaluable support to Northamptonshire County Council in the drive to improve children’s services, making a real practical and emotional impact at recent staff and partner events.”

Project or Campaign of the Year – Northamptonshire Mental Health Stigma Programme Participation Group

This group, made up of 11 to 18-year-olds from across the county, has introduced a new education pack for schools and designed and created a website – www.talkoutloud.info – as part of their work to tackle the stigma around mental health.

Katharine Alsop, who nominated the group, said: “These are a really dedicated and committed bunch of young people, who have chosen to get involved to talk about a subject that attracts a lot of stigma. The great thing to see is that they are all making a huge difference, not only to their schools and communities but also to their own personal development.”

The Taking Charge of Your Life Award – Pascale Cordell

Sixteen-year-old Pascale has proved to be an exceptional student, passing all her GCSEs with A* to C grades and starting her AS levels despite recently being taken into care. She has just been accepted for a prestigious law internship this summer and will also be taking part in a volunteer scheme in Sri Lanka working with people with mental health issues.

Social worker Nicola Thrower said: “Pascale is an inspiration for other young people as despite the adversities she has experienced, she maintains her determination and motivation for success. She has her goals and ambitions and she is reaching for these and doing all she can to ensure that she gets there.”

The Arts Award – Northampton School for Boys

These eight students, all aged 17, wrote and performed a special play called Walk A Mile in My Shoes to raise awareness about bullying.

The play was performed to all year groups at Northampton School for Boys and at the Northamptonshire charity Lowdown’s anti-bullying conference. Lowdown is now seeking funding to film the play so it can be used as a resource for schools.

Assistant headteacher Lindsay Greenaway said: “I nominated these students for their constant and continued use of drama, using their own time and talent to convey much needed messages to make a difference.”

The Special Recognition Award – Chelsea Hammond

Chelsea, 20, turned her life around after getting involved with the Prince’s Trust. She has recently battled with depression and anxiety, but has successfully completed the programme and even found the courage to talk about her experience with the Prince’s Trust to an audience of 80 people.

Shirley Turner, from the education, employment and training service Prospects and who nominated Chelsea, said: “After a very difficult start, Chelsea pushed herself and completed the very challenging Prince’s Trust programme. She has shown real courage in taking control of her life and now wants to help other people reach their full potential.”