“Well done Oxfordshire Youth for putting together such a fantastic awards ceremony. And congratulations to everyone who has been nominated. You are all heroes and how lucky Oxfordshire is to have you.” – High Sheriff of Oxfordshire

On Wednesday 28th October we had the pleasure of delivering the Oxfordshire Youth Awards 2020, and what a night it was.

Was it delivered how we originally planned? No, our awards ceremony at the New Theatre is yet another casualty of the year 2020 but we refused to let that stop us celebrating the young people of Oxfordshire and all their amazing achievements.

When it became clear that Covid-19 and its devastating effects were going to be with us longer than anyone could have predicted, we decided we would just have to come up with a different way to celebrate the young people in Oxfordshire. Our fantastic Youth Awards youth committee was the driving force behind this new plan.

With support from our media partner Oxford Media Factory we were able to put on a partly pre-recorded livestream event. We didn’t know what to expect as this was something we had never done before. But with our charismatic host Darius at the helm, some incredible performances from Oxfordshire’s talented local artists, and the wonderful audience engagement on social media the event became better than we could have ever expected!

And the winner is…

By far, the highlight of the night was seeing the reactions of all the young award winners.

To say deciding on the winners was a difficult task is a complete understatement. It took many hours for our youth committee to whittle it down to one winner for each category. When hearing the stories and achievements of each group or individual, it’s easy to see that all the winners were completely deserving.

In the week following the Youth Awards, we were thrilled to hear some of the winners in conversation with Fleur Ostojak on BBC Radio Oxford. The interviews will be available on the BBC Sounds website for a limited amount of time.

Community Champion

Winner – Ace Manthey

After battling Leukaemia as a child, Ace has endeavoured to support charities such as Star Light and Cancer Research. This year at his school he was the driving force behind their Race for Life week which raised over £7800 for Cancer Research.

Listen to Ace’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts 38:50).

Youth Project of the Year

Winner – Jacari

Through the Jacari Project Oxford, volunteers from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes university are paired with local children who have English as an additional language to deliver English lessons to them, many children are from migrant or refugee families. These lessons help to boost the children’s academic confidence and enable them to fully access the school curriculum.

Listen to Jacari’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts 36:20).

Youth Activist

Winner – Children Heard and Seen Youth Panel

Children Heard and Seen support children who are impacted by parental imprisonment, who often face stigma, shame and isolation due to their parents offending. The Children Heard and Seen Youth Panel have challenged the perceptions of children who have a parent in prison. They have organised and presented a children’s voice conference at Westminster presenting to MPs Peers, policy officials, criminologists, prison governors court staff and solicitors. They also travelled to Poland to speak at the Children of Prisoners Europe Annual Conference and they have given oral evidence to the Joint Select Committee of Human Rights at Parliament regarding the right to family life: Children whose mothers are in prison inquiry.

Inspirational Entrepreneur

Winner – Harvey King

Harvey’s podcast and platform The Young Innovators is an exceptional place for young people to go and be inspired and learn more about business.

Arts Superstar

Winner – Displaced Voices Poets
Merzia Qahramany, Halema Malak, Ftoun Abu Keresh, Timileyin Amusan

Four young people from Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria were invited to become part of the Orchestra of St John’s Displaced Voices Project. They performed their poetry over live orchestral backing tracks that they created in collaboration with a professional composer. They did this in front of large audiences overcoming their fears of speaking in public and sharing their stories and experiences.

Listen to the Displaced Voices Poets’ interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts at 1:10:40).

STEM Innovator

Winner – Lucas Brooks

Lucas took part in a school project involving zero waste which was in collaboration with their partner school in South Africa. Lucas introduced the documentary premier to hundreds of guests and took part in additional learning at home to create two videos using hundreds of still shots to show the impact of waste in the sea on animals.

Sports Personality

Winner – Emma Gorringe

Emma was left with a disability following chemotherapy when she was younger, following in her sister’s footsteps she fell in love with training at the Berinsfield Boxing Gym, she struggled to keep up with the others but she was determined that it would not stop her, the training helped to build up her strength in her legs. After training at the gym for 8 years she wanted to become the first registered disabled amateur boxer, this was not easy and required training hard and further surgery but she passed the medical examination and got her card to box. In December 2019 she had her first skills bout for ‘This Girl can Box’ at the BXR Gym and made history!!

Listen to Emma’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts 34:10).

Pride of Oxfordshire

Winner – Autumn Walsh

Autumn has dealt with difficult times from childhood and yet has consistently shown strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Some of Autumn’s achievements include: being a poetry competition winner (resulting in two publicised poems), leading youth sessions, and taking on high-levels of responsibility to advocate for other young people – including interviewing for new social workers. She is now a Chair of Children in Care Council, the VOXY Council’s Vice-Chair, and she is an ambassador for A National Voice.

Listen to Autumn’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts 1:11:40).

Covid-19 Young Hero

Winner – Camron Hignell

Camron Hignell from Berinsfield is a member of Youth Challenge Oxfordshire (YoCO) and volunteered alongside Berinsfield Information and Volunteers Centre (BIVC) to support elderly and vulnerable residents who were shielding throughout the first lockdown. He has continued to do so until the present day as he enjoys it so much. He has been completing and delivering shopping, prescriptions and has befriended a lot of the residents during this challenging time of social isolation and uncertainty. He doesn’t just complete tasks, he takes the time and effort to go the extra mile, ensuring little treats for residents are in the shopping to cheer them up or spending an extra 20 minutes making conversation with them. Earlier this year, he also got nominated and awarded the young volunteer award through South Oxfordshire Housing Association and was recognised by SOHA tenants for his thoughtful support in the community. In the past, Camron experienced issues with his own mental health. He has used this difficult time to work on his confidence and, through his volunteering work, has decided to become a Mental Health Ambassador for Oxfordshire Youth.

Listen to Cameron’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford with Fleur Ostojak (starts at 36:05).

The night is one that we won’t forget and we hope you won’t either. Being able to bring people together in celebration is our privilege and we hope that the Oxfordshire Youth Awards 2020 will only motivate every single nominee to keep doing what they are doing because you never know who you are inspiring.

As always a huge thank you to everyone who made this event possible: our media partner Oxford Media Factory and headline sponsor Blenheim, and our fabulous youth committee for all their hard work and dedication to making this event the best it could be.

Thank you to every award sponsor: Oxford Bus Company, Samla Tribe, Jennings, Oxfordshire County Council (Councillor Priority Fund), University of Oxford Apprenticeships, Decathlon and Owen Mumford.

Thank you to BBC Radio Oxford for supporting and covering this event with a special mention to Fleur Ostajak, who has been an unbelievable support in promoting the event from the very beginning.

The night wouldn’t have been half the success it was without the amazing performers including Messy Jam, Jen Berkova, Roguey Roads, Zak Young, José Kelly and Angels Performing Arts.

And a huge thank you to everyone that watched and gave us, the performers, winners and nominees some love during the event. We’ll see you all in 2022, we cannot wait!

If you missed the awards or would like to watch the event again, you can still do so on our website.

Watch our Oxfordshire Youth Awards 2020 Highlights video: