“EVEN though I’ve read their stories, there’s something about hearing them on the night, and seeing them in person, that is really special.”
Stephen Mitchell fully expects to be touched by the inspirational and emotional stories that will be told at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards on Friday.
As the Leeds’ representative for the St James’s Place Foundation, he founded the awards four years ago and is still very much the driving force behind the event, which raises money to help disadvantaged youngsters through the Foundation, as well as honouring the bravest and most courageous children in the region.
Mr Mitchell, a senior partner at the St James’s Place Wealth Management Company, said: “We have the hardest time deciding on the winners. Meeting the children themselves is always incredible.
“It’s great to see their faces and their reactions when they win. What they go through is immense, it’s fantastic to be able to acknowledge them.”
Last year’s winners included five-year-old Grace Fu, from Seacroft, Leeds, who suffered a serious brain injury, and Megan Rodd, six, of Dewsbury, who raised thousands of pounds for charity.
The awards began in 2010 and have grown in size each year. Anything raised at the awards goes to the Foundation, which has given away grants totally more than £34m over the last 22 years.
Mr Mitchell said: “It’s a fantastic cause, and the money raised is treated with the greatest respect. We’re very careful about where we award grants, to make sure every penny is spent wisely.”
The awards will be presented by BBC Breakfast presenter Steph McGovern and comedian Jack Carroll, and guests include BBC economics editor Robert Peston, entertainers the Chuckle Brothers and singer Jonathan Ansell. Tickets are still available for the event, which takes place at the Royal Armouries’ New Dock Hall, on www.yorkshirechildren.co.uk