Tough-talking Steph has tissues at the ready for Children of Courage Awards

BBC's Steph McGovern with young comedy star Jack Carroll and the 2013 Children of Courage winners.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

BBC's Steph McGovern with young comedy star Jack Carroll and the 2013 Children of Courage winners. Picture Bruce Rollinson

  • by Lindsay Pantry

As a tough-talking business presenter on BBC Breakfast, Steph McGovern is used to remaining calm under pressure - but she admits to having to force back the tears when hosting the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards last year.

The journalist will once again host the awards, which honour brave and courageous young people, when they take place at the Royal Armouries next month.

The event, now in its fourth year, aims to raise money to help disadvantaged and disabled children while acknowledging those children in our region who have shown courage in dealing with difficult circumstances.

Miss McGovern first got involved with the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards after hosting a fundraising event for organisers Leeds-based the St James’s Place Foundation, which has handed out more than £34m in grants to causes benefitting children in need.

She said: “I do a few awards dos, usually best business awards and things like that, but this was so much more. It was very honest, people dealing with real life. These are ordinary kids, but dealing with extraordinary things.”

After hosting last year’s event, she was keen to get involved again.

“It was so humbling,” she said. “I had to control myself so I wouldn’t start crying. The stories were so powerful, but when the kids came up to collect their awards they were so modest.

“It’s such a lovely event to be part of. It’s an amazing thing to reward them for things they do on a daily basis.”

One winner that particularly stuck in her mind from last year was nine-year-old Josh Toothill, of Horsforth, who was recognised in the young carer category.

When he was four years old, his mother Caroline became a wheelchair user and suffered constant pain. She described her son as “an angel” for the invaluable help her provides around the home.

Miss McGovern said: “Josh didn’t see it as anything unusual, he did all that whilst doing everything else you do as a kid. When his mum came up on stage with him she was in tears.

“Every story was just as powerful.”

Recognising courageous young people is something close to Miss McGovern’s heart. She is a school governor in her native Teeside, patron of two charities which help young people, and regularly runs workshops for school children in the north east.

“I think it’s really important to show young people role models, to instil confidence and show people that there’s more out there for them,” she said.

Although nominations have now closed, tickets to the ceremony are available.

The event includes dinner and entertainment by tenor Jonathan Ansell. Businesses can take out a sponsorship package, book a table or buy individual tickets.

Miss McGovern, 32, said: “Not only is this a beautiful, glamorous event, it puts things into perspective. It’s a great night out, but you will definitely need to take tissues with you.” Visit




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