Inspirational young people from Norfolk and Suffolk were last night honoured for their amazing achievements, courage and success at a special awards ceremony.

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Now in its third year, the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards aims to find and reward bright young stars from our two counties in a number of categories ranging from culture to bravery to young farmer, and the awards are sponsored by the EDP, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, OPEN Youth Trust, and The Garage.

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton presented the awards which were held at OPEN in Norwich.

She said she was absolutely blown away by how amazing all of the finalists were and that she was honoured to share the stage with such incredible and inspirational people.

“It was really nice to be part of something so positive and that really shouts about what the young people have done,” she said.

“I just think they are all absolutely amazing.”

She also said how impressed she was with the talented young performers from The Garage who in between the different awards entertained the 300-strong audience with beat boxing, hip hop, street dance, theatre and more,

There were eight award categories and the winner of each was given £1,000 to help them further their dreams and ambitions.

Seventeen-year-old Kelsey McTaggart, from Ashill, near Watton, and who won the bravery category, also received an extra prize when she was announced as the Bernard Matthews Young Person of the Year, an award created in memory of Mr Matthews who died in November.

In March 2009 Kelsey suffered an arterial ventricular malformation of the brain and she had a stroke which left her unable to breathe unaided, walk, talk, see and communicate.

Judges were extremely impressed by Kelsey’s immense bravery as she battled to recover and her determination to do well in her academic studies despite everything.

Lorna Cousins, marketing controller communications for Bernard Matthews, said she was amazed by the standard of entries for this year’s youth awards and she said every single finalist was a winner really.

She said: “The winners were really difficult to choose because each and every one of the finalists was inspiring in their own way.

“One of the great things about the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards is that it is an awards ceremony to recognise young people and it is also run by them too because there were lots of young people from The Garage involved in providing the entertainment.

“It is the young people who will shape our region in the future and so it is really important that we champion, reward and support them.”

The Bernard Matthews Youth Awards 2011 winners were:

Bernard Matthews Young Person of the Year and Bravery winner

Kelsey McTaggart, 17, from Ashill, near Watton, won both the bravery category and the Bernard Matthews Young Person of the Year award for overcoming all the odds to survive and for showing immense strength, determination and courage.

In March 2009 Kelsey’s life changed dramatically when she suffered an arterial ventricular malformation of the brain and she had a stroke which left her unable to breathe unaided, walk, talk, see and communicate.

Kelsey courageously battled to survive and worked to re-learn things other people take for granted. Despite having part of her brain removed she was determined to return to school to complete her exams and she successfully achieved 13 GCSEs. She is now studying A-levels at Wymondham High.

Kelsey said: “There were so many good people in my category and so I was very surprised to win.

“It makes me really think that what I have done is a big achievement, and it makes me want to help other young people who find themselves in similar situations.

“I would like to thank everybody who has helped me, especially Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital because without them I would not be alive today.”

Kelsey’s mum Caroline McTaggart said: “What happened to Kelsey meant that we lost one daughter and gained a totally new one. Kelsey is a very unique person, I was very proud to see her win the awards and a bit overwhelmed.”

Kelsey said she planned to donate some of her prize money to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and to use some of the money to pay for driving lessons.

Also shortlisted:

• Ryan Dagg, 18, from Dereham, for showing exceptional courage in the face of a debilitating illness. Ryan was diagnosed with an immune deficiency called vasculitis when he was in year nine, and during year 13 suffered strokes that left him in a coma. Despite everything he fought his way back to health and was determined to continue his A Levels.

• James Crisp, 17, from Harleston, for being a carer for his disabled mother who has severe arthritis and his 10-year-old brother who has severe learning difficulties while also studying three A Levels.

• Molly, Lauren and William Spinks, 16, 19 and 14, from Caister-on-Sea, for working as a team to care for their mother who has a chronic illness and for carrying out lifesaving first aid to save their mother’s life.

• Luke and Jodie Shambrook, 15 and 17, from Thetford, for their courage in overcoming the trauma of being bullied.

• Bethany Skipper, 15, from Yaxham, near Dereham, for her great courage in battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and helping to raise £3,500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Sporting Achiever

Victoria Williamson, 17, from Hevingham, near Norwich, was given the sporting achiever accolade for her huge commitment to sprint track cycling and winning an impressive amount of medals in her sport.

She was previously shortlisted for the sporting achiever prize in the 2010 Bernard Matthews Youth Awards.

Victoria rides for the Great Britain junior team and in 2010 competed in Italy, Russia and Belgium.

She was also selected for the under 23 team sprint held in Russia, and is also on the British Cycling Sprint Olympic Development Programme.

Victoria’s award was collected by her mum Tracey.

Also shortlisted:

• Albert Hicks, 17, from Attleborough, for achievements in kayak racing including representing Great Britain in the World Marathon Championships.

• Annabelle Block, 18, from Henstead, near Beccles, for excellence in competitive horse riding in a range of disciplines.

• Matthew Fidgett, 18, from Costessey, Norwich, for achievements in tenpin bowling and representing England in his sport.

• Emily Crow, 12, from Sprowston, near Norwich, for excellence in gymnastics including being British floor champion for her age.

• Alfie Hewett, 13, from Cantley, for excellence in wheelchair tennis and representing Great Britain in his sport.

Young Farmer

Tom Buck, 15, from Yaxham, near Dereham, won the young farmer award for his commitment to breeding and showing purebred poultry ranging from dewlap toulouse geese to tiny pekin bantams.

Tom has kept poultry since he was two years old and he goes to shows all over the country.

He belongs to seven poultry clubs, does a lot of volunteer work with the Norfolk Poultry Club, and is extremely enthusiastic about making more young people interested in poultry.

Tom’s award was collected by his brother James.

Also shortlisted:

• Robert Crawford, 17, from Topcroft, near Bungay, for his dedication to breeding cattle including Holstein and Ayrshire cattle. Robert is also involved in arable farming.

Environmental

The Eco Bugs Group, a team of 11 to 16-year-olds from Wayland Community High School, in Watton, won the environment award for the group’s huge commitment to helping the environment at the school and in the local community.

The group was started in 2005 and has nine teams - garden, wildlife, energy, pond, recycling, litter, transport, eFutures and community rangers.

The group’s many ventures include working on their eco garden, litter picking, and working with the National Trust to monitor and reduce energy waste in school.

This year members of the group are hoping to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they grow as well as run some Saturday morning cookery workshops using their produce.

The group is totally self-funded and generates funds from the income it makes from recycling various materials as well as selling some of its vegetables and plants.

Also shortlisted:

• Flexi Horticulture Group, from City College Norwich, for their work growing plants and using them to help improve the environment in a range of areas across Norwich.

• Bungay High School Environmental Conservation Group, for their conservation work in Norfolk and north Suffolk,

Educational Achievement

Saul Watson, 17, from Costessey, near Norwich, was given the education award for achieving good academic results while also being a young carer for his mum.

Saul, who goes to Ormiston Victory Academy, is on call to help his mum 24 hours a day.

As well as being a young carer he is also working hard to achieve his dream of studying aeronautical engineering at university. He has achieved good GCSEs and is currently studying physics, maths, chemistry and a extended project for A-level.

Also shortlisted:

• Natalie West, 17, from Norwich, for excellent achievement at GCSE and A level and achieving great things in drama.

• VTalentYear, a group from Great Yarmouth College, for overcoming a range of factors to attend college and being committed to volunteering to help others.

Cultural Achiever

Seventeen-year-old Matthew Neave scooped the culture award for being the driving force behind a North Walsham High School film project which involved students from England, Germany and Romania working together.

The project - which lasted two-and-a-half-years - involved creating a full-length original feature film that was based on vampirism and filmed on location in Transylvania.

Also shortlisted:

• Charlotte Evans, 18, from Little Ellingham, near Attleborough, for outstanding achievements in music, especially in playing the oboe.

• James Seabrook, 17, from Bungay, for excellence in tuba playing, setting up a choir for teenage boys, and helping to found a rock band.

Community Support

Charlie Dinsdale and Witney Catchpole, 17 and 16, from Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft, picked up the community support prize for being the driving force behind the Shelter a Hoodie Project in Carleton Coleville. Their motivation and commitment to the project is a great example of how young people can make a positive difference to the wider community.

After complaints were made by older residents about too much noise being made by young people hanging about in residential areas, Witney and Charlie decided to try and combat the problem by setting up the Shelter a Hoodie Project to create a place where young people could meet away from built-up neighbourhoods.

In just four months £9,500 was raised and this has funded a purpose-built teen shelter in a local park where young people can meet without disturbing other members of the community.

Also shortlisted:

• Holt Youth Project, for forming ROPE (Reaching out Project to the Elderly), creating a DVD promoting life in rural Norfolk, and taking part other community projects.

• The Youth Advisory Panel, a Norwich-based group of young volunteers which helps Victim Support and other agencies improve their services to help young people affected by crime.

• Breckland Youth Council for commitment to giving young people a voice.

• Hannah Fenn, 18, from Bradwell, Great Yarmouth, for her dedication to making sure the views of young people are heard.

• Josie Andrews, 15, from Norwich, for her huge amount of voluntary work at Bowthorpe-based Hat Trick Football.

Charity

Nathan Ward, 15, from Lowestoft, was given the charity accolade for his commitment to helping lots of good causes and the creative way in which he raises funds.

Nathan has created a dalek costume powered by a mobility scooter which he regularly takes down the High Street in Lowestoft to fundraise for charities.

One of the organisation’s Nathan supports is SHIMS, a support group for people with multiple sclerosis.

He also works with the Norwich Sci-Fi Club to raise funds for a number of different charities, and he has raised money for Help an East Coast Child.

Also shortlisted:

• Sophie Bailey, 16, Sarah Bailey, 17, Emily White, 18, and Zara Horn, 18, a team from The Magpie Centre, Runcton Holme, near King’s Lynn, for work with West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled Association and the Breckland Special Olympics equestrian groups.

• Kirsty Ward, 17, from Hellesdon, near Norwich, for organising a fun run which raised more than £1,000 for Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association.

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