UNSUNG heroes in their own right, their courage, determination and strength during unimaginable circumstances inspires everyone around them.
A handful of the region’s bravest and most inspirational children received the recognition they deserved at last night’s Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards.
Celebrating the achievements of courageous and determined youngsters, hundreds of people attended the eighth annual awards dinner at Leeds’ New Dock Hall yesterday.
Fronted by BBC presenter Louise Minchin, the star-studded ceremony was raising money for the St James’s Place Charitable Foundation, which has given out more than £75m in grants to worthy charities.
Among the line-up of top-tier attendees cheering on the children was comedian Jack Carroll and Paralympian Hannah Cockroft, from Halifax, alongside Paul Elliott, whose brother Barry, forming the other half of the Chuckle Brothers, died earlier this year.
Award-winning children included Sarah Emmott, from Barwick-in-Elmet, whose battle in the first years of her young life captured the hearts of judges this year, honouring her with the Special Recognition award for under 12s.
The five-year-old has been battling a severe genetic kidney disease, and other complex health problems, since she was born.
Sarah has never eaten a meal, fed intravenously for three years and now nasally, and she suffers from daily pain.
Despite having injections every day and visiting the hospital’s dialysis unit regularly for protein infusions, her mum, Elaine, said she’s “always smiling”.
“I feel delighted that she has been nominated because she deserves it as well,” said her mum, Elaine Emmott.
“There are a lot of poorly children out there, but she has gone through hell and back.
“The pain she has had in her short life and she still smiles almost all of the time. She is infectious - extraordinary is what I call her. People who meet Sarah are almost spell-bound by her. She might be tiny but her personality is huge and she makes up for that.”
The family recently moved to Tadcaster and while Sarah is battling on, unfortunately her kidneys are rapidly declining, and Mrs Emmott, 45, said she will soon be in need of an organ transplant.
“It won’t be long now until she goes into kidney failure and needs an organ donation,” Mrs Emmott, who is currently on a career break as West Yorkshire Police radio operator, said.
“Her future is still up in the air but she is a fighter.”
And honours were also given out to older children, including Leeds’ own Nitasha Mustafa, who scooped the Fundraiser accolade. The 14-year-old, from Roundhay, raised hundreds of pounds for cancer charities after her cousin, Haris Iqbal, died following a battle with cancer.
Her mum, Aseia Mustafa, said: “When he got poorly, that inspired Nitasha.
“She would go to hospital to see him and other children who were on the ward.
“Then she started raising money and then taking it to the ward to give to the staff so they could get things for the children.”
A star baker in her own right, the Roundhay School pupil held a series of cake sales to raise cash, helped by her sisters, Saibah and Inayah Mustafa, on her fundraising quest.
Tim Willis, head of location at St James’s Place Leeds, which organised the ceremony, said: “We are once again extremely proud to host an amazing evening recognising the courage and achievements of some of Yorkshire’s finest young people, whilst at the same time raising funds for our charitable foundation.”
Inspirational Children from across Leeds made the shortlist last night during an emotional ceremony that tugged on the heartstrings of all those involved.
Dennis Randall, from Middleton, was the judges pick when it came to Outstanding Bravery in the 13-18-year-old age category.
The 13-year-old has a severe form of epilepsy that can see him suffer hundreds of seizures every week.
Last year, the he lost the ability to walk or talk following a severe seizure.
But through shear determination, the battling teenager has now re-learned many of his skills that he lost.
His mum, Lucy Murray, said: “Dennis has always been a very brave and courageous young boy.
“He got through it with his own determination.
That’s how e approaches a lot of things. He is very determined, he doesn’t let thing get him down and always has a smile on his face.”
Despite being unable to eat at the moment, and suffering from fatigue, Miss Murray, 34, said he is now doing well.
“He is a lot more tired than he used to be,” she said.
“But aside from that he is doing well.
Miss Murray, who cares full time for Dennis, said that she was delighted that he had been nominated for the award.
“I’m really proud and really pleased that somebody felt that he was worthy of being nominated,” she said.
Nitasha Mustafa, from Roundhay, Leeds, was inspired to fundraise after her cousin died following a battle with cancer earlier this year.
The 14-year-old held bake sales to raise hundreds of pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and Cancer Research charities in his memory, to help those staying on children’s wards in Leeds.
Her mum, Aseia Mustafa, said: “I was proud and shocked when I found out she had been nominated.”
Cameron Osburn, 17, from Harrogate, suffers from has cerebral palsy but has a passion for sport.
While struggling with mainstream football, he took up Silat, an Indonesian martial art, and went on to become the first junior black belt in the UK. The teenager has since joined a disabled football club in York.
He also helped form an under 12s disability football team, Adversity United, in Harrogate, which trains every week.
Five-year-old Sarah Emmott, who moved from Leeds to Tadcaster, is battling genetic kidney disease that leaves her in daily pain.
The youngster has spent a significant amount of her life in Leeds General Infirmary. With her kidneys rapidly deteriorating, Sarah will in the future eventually need an organ transplant.
However, her family have praised her fighting spirit, and say that her extraordinary determination “spell binds” all those who meet her.