A night of cheers and tears as Yorkshire’s bravest young people are saluted

Award winner Holly Marsden, of Morley, with Eddie Gray and Christine Talbot.
Award winner Holly Marsden, of Morley, with Eddie Gray and Christine Talbot.

They have all, in their own different ways, demonstrated strength and fortitude beyond their years.

And now some of Yorkshire’s bravest youngsters have received deserved recognition for achievements that mark them out as truly inspirational characters.

Award winner Hayden Connett.

Award winner Hayden Connett.

Hundreds of people packed into Leeds’s New Dock Hall for the seventh annual Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards.

Attendees included famous names such as Leeds United legend Eddie Gray, Paralympic wheelchair athlete Hannah Cockroft, Olympic gymnast Nile Wilson and former Huddersfield Giants rugby league player Eorl Crabtree.

But there was no doubt as to the real stars of the show – the award recipients themselves, 10 children who have faced up to daunting challenges without fear or expectation of favour.

Winners included Finn Knaggs, 15, from Guiseley, near Leeds, who was given a special recognition prize in the event’s 13 to 18 age category.

Award winner Lola Daley.

Award winner Lola Daley.

Finn was left with profound sensory neural hearing loss and complex epilepsy after contracting pneumococcal meningitis at seven months old.

But he refuses to let his disabilities hold him back and has flourished through his love of football, table tennis and sporting competitions organised by the Panathlon Challenge charity.

The teenager’s mother Kim said: “When Finn was ill as a baby the doctors told me his body was essentially shutting down and there wasn’t much hope.

“The experts later said they weren’t sure whether he would be able to walk. If only they could see him now, either at Panathlon competitions or booting a ball over the fence into our neighbour’s garden 10 times a day!”

Award winner Charlie Senior.

Award winner Charlie Senior.

The winners in various other categories – including young carer and outstanding bravery – were Lola Daley, Hayden Connett, Charlie Senior, Joe Johnson, Shahayna Begum, Paige Patching, George Marriott, Holly Marsden and Billie Lambert.

There was also a group award, which went to Sheffield-based PACT (Parents Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia) following a public vote.

PACT received a surprise £5,000 first prize, with £2,500 going to each of the runners-up, Heart Research UK and the Leeds-based Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Friday night’s event was organised by St James’s Place Wealth Management and raised money for the company’s St James’s Place Charitable Foundation.

Paul Elliott and Jack Carroll.

Paul Elliott and Jack Carroll.

The foundation distributes funds to good causes across Yorkshire, with one of the biggest beneficiaries over the years being Huddersfield’s Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

St James’s Place Charitable Foundation committee member Stephen Mitchell said: “All the nominees should be very proud of themselves, whether they won an award or not because, in our eyes, they are all winners.”

Other guests at the ceremony included the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity and businesswoman Kate Hardcastle.

Coun Dowson said: “It was an absolute privilege and honour to be in attendance at this year’s Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards, and have the opportunity to meet and hear the personal stories of some truly remarkable and inspiring young people.”

The Yorkshire Post is a media partner of the event. Editor James Mitchinson said: “The most humbling thing about those amazing, brave, inspirational children is that they often have no idea that they are the wonderful person we all see.

“To Yorkshire’s Children of Courage and their families, I say thank you for your fortitude and I hope you enjoyed your night. You deserve it.”

Award winner George Marriott.

Award winner George Marriott.

There were performances from singer Bethany Hare – a winner of one of the event’s awards in 2011 – and students from the Yorkshire-based Adele Taylor School of Dance.

Entertainment was supplied by X Factor singer and West End star Ray Quinn, Hipperholme comic Jack Carroll and Paul Elliott, one half of TV’s Chuckle Brothers.

Presentation duties were handled by Christine Talbot from ITV’s Calendar news programme.

Award winner Billie Lambert.

Award winner Billie Lambert.

Ray Quinn performs.

Ray Quinn performs.

The rooftops of the terraced houses in Holbeck.

241 homes on Leeds ‘flood risk’ site approved despite almost 300 objections