MEET some special young people! These inspirational youngsters have all shown strength and maturity beyond their years to be judged the Doncaster Superkids of 2012.
A glittering lunchtime celebration and presentation to nine nominees who are shining examples to everyone took place at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The deserving winners of the Doncaster Free Press Superkids awards were nominated for categories ranging from sport to triumph over adversity.
Their individual stories and achievements drew gasps of admiration from an audience that included event sponsors from the business community who were keen to support the occasion and honour the young folk who make Doncaster proud.
Each of the young guests and their families were greeted at the ceremony by Snow White and Muddles (Leah Murphy and James Percy from the Doncaster Civic Theatre pantomime that opens this week) then were welcomed officially by the editor in chief of South Yorkshire Newspapers, Graeme Huston, before enjoying a celebratory Christmas meal. After that the real action started...
Fifteen-year-old Thomas Donaldson-Badger from Heckdyke opened the ceremony in fine voice with his moving renditions of Dream the Impossible Dream, and You Raise Me Up, after which bubbly JoJo Kelly from Capital Radio claimed the stage as host.
JoJo exuded warmth and humour as she welcomed up presenters and award recipients. She was visibly moved at times, as she explained the nominations, and said: “When you get to meet these young people after reading about them and their achievements, it really does touch you deeply.”
First up to be honoured was Young Citizen of the Year Ashleigh Lewis, 14, of Wheatley, who works as a member of Doncaster Youth Council. This award was sponsored by the Doncaster Free Press and presented by Coun Cynthia Ransome of Doncaster Council.
The Sports Award, sponsored by Castle Conservatories, was handed to 15-year-old taekwondo champion Emily Watson of Hatfield, by Free Press editor Graeme Huston, after which singer Tom Donaldson-Badger was visibly shocked to be called up for the Fundraising Award. This was sponsored by the Frenchgate Centre and presented by its deputy manager Elaine Retallic.
The Carer of the Year Award was sponsored by Weldricks and presented by managing director Christopher Allcock to 12-year-old Doncastrian Thomas Wilson. Thomas was joined by sister Diane, 18, who won the award herself two years ago.
Next was the Educational Progress Award. George Trow of sponsor body Doncaster College gave this to remarkable 16-year- old Ryan Amesbury of Moorends, who has battled bone cancer with real fortitude.
Another stoic young man, Robbie Sockett, 13, of Askern, received the Courage Award from Shaun Lockwood, the marketing manager of the Keepmoat Stadium that acted as sponsor. And the Environment Champion Award, sponsored by Doncaster Refurnish was handed to 10-year-old Ben Spoor of Holme by company representative Andy Simpson.
Diane Parker and Stephanie Veysey, partners at solicitors Atherton Godfrey who sponsored the Special Award, made their presentation to inspirational 17-year-old Jessica Carr of Scawthorpe. Then Snow White and Muddles joined forces to give the final Triumph over Adversity Award, sponsored by the Civic Theatre – to seven-year-old Abigail Cook of Warmsworth, who is battling a rare debilitating condition, but whose smile lit up the room.
JoJo wrapped up the warmth that had spread all around the executive suite at the Keepmoat, by linking with Mr Huston in thanking all the sponsors who had made the event possible. She added: “Last but not least, congratulations and well done to the biggest stars of the day – our 2012 Superkids winners!”
The ceremony closed with another song from Tom Donaldson-Badger – and tumultuous applause.