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Community Champions

ByoU receive award from Stuart Murray
The cream of Wigan borough’s young people were honoured at a special celebration event on Saturday 24th September.The annual Cultural Partnership Convention, organised by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, was a chance for professionals and community members to come together and celebrate the exciting and diverse range of cultural activities Wigan Borough has to offer.

Each year a different cultural sector is honoured in a special awards ceremony at the event and 2011 certainly didn’t disappoint.
This year, the focus was children and young people giving the younger members of the community and their workers a chance to shine at the Haigh Hall event.

Stuart Murray, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Chief Executive, said: “It was great to see the young members of our community and their workers get the recognition they so rightly deserve. They are inspirational. ”

Gill David, Interim Chair of the Cultural Partnership said: “Once again the annual Cultural Partnership Convention has shown there is so much to celebrate about the Wigan Borough and its residents.”

The convention also gave guests a chance to discuss any good work currently taking place, any plans for the future and a chance to exchange great ideas and learn from one another.

Keynote speaker Rob Young (Northwest Co-ordinator for the 2012 Games) also gave an update on the road to London 2012 and what it means for people living in the region.

The awards are supported by the Cultural Partnership, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and Wigan Council.
They acknowledge the achievements of groups and individuals within Wigan Borough who work to improve the lives of children and young people.

Winners of the awards, judged by a panel of representatives from Wigan Borough’s cultural sector, are as follows:

Lifetime achievement award winner: Jilly McKiernan
It may seem an unusual step to give the lifetime achievement award to someone aged just 17, but Jilly has shown a selfless dedication to the needs of young people since before she could walk. Her charity work began when she took part in a sponsored toddle when she was just two years old. Since then Jilly has raise thousands of pounds for different causes through her own charity, Kidz 4 Kidz. Each year through Kidz 4 Kidz, Jilly organises events, collections, fun days, Christmas concerts and even writes and directs an annual pantomime. Jilly, from Ashton, is also one of the Members of Youth Parliament for the Wigan Borough and represents the views of local young people at a national level in this role. With what little time she must have left, Jilly still volunteers for different services and at different events that help other young people. Through all this she always has a smile on her face and always has time for other people.

Best children’s project award winner: Stubshaw Cross Residents Group
The group have successfully organised a summer activities for young people in the area each year since 2004. The project is run from Stubshaw Cross Recreation Ground in August each year, where football, rounders, archery and a climbing wall are just some of the activities provided. Arts, crafts and pod casting are also run from a fun bus at the site. During the project, Wigan Heritage Services worked with young people to promote the success of a heritage garden completed in 2009. Their work on this was later displayed at Ashton Library and in the Museum of Wigan Life. The project concludes with a Stubshaw’s Got Talent event for young people and parents and promotes self confidence, teamwork and community spirit. The project has been funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester, Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing.

Best young person’s project join award winners: ByoU project and the Nowt2Do? project
The ByoU project is run by Wigan Council youth workers to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people. Not only does the project offer support and guidance to the young people in making difficult decisions, building confidence and encountering prejudice, they also encourage participation in community events. This year, ByoU worked with local charity Fix It to produce a float to enter into the Manchester Pride parade in August. Around 30 young people worked to create the bespoke rainbow flag sprayed car complete with a large glittery shoe adorning the roof inspired by Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The Nowt2Do? project, led by Greater Manchester Police, provides a host of activities for young people in the borough. To date dance, football, drama, healthy eating, tennis, brick laying, art classes and many more activities have taken place and at no cost to the young people involved. The project has been running for two years and approximately 15,000 young people have participated. It demonstrates to the community that young people do want to get involved in safe, meaningful activities and aren’t all trouble makers. The project has even been linked to boosted exam results. The project is entirely funded from donations and funding bids.

Volunteer of the Year – Children award winner: Emilio Doran
Football mad Emilio Doran was just nine years old when he decided he wanted to take his passion for football and use it to raise money for a good cause. Emilio, from Marsh Green, designed his own posters, asked Marsh Green Primary School governors for use of their playing field and rallied young people and the community to attend a charity football tournament. Scores of young people and their parents came along and after charging 50p per player and organising a raffle for their parents, Emilio raised a total of £40 for Wigan and Leigh Hospice. The event was entirely organised by Emilio and supported by Wigan Council’s Positive Activities for Young People Team, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, Marsh Green Community Primary School and local police. Other young people from the area also gave their time to referee and marshal the games in what proved to be a great community event organised by a local lad.

Volunteer of the year – Young people award winner: Shauna Gracey
Shauna works tirelessly at the Equine Community Group in Ince – the centre made famous in the local press as being home to the borough’s horse whisperers. She gives riding lessons free of charge to young people and teaches horse whispering skills, simply in return for help with stable duties. Shauna frequently puts her own plans and social life on hold and ventures out in any weather to make sure the children of Ince can enjoy riding and animal assisted therapy. She has given children the confidence to demonstrate their newly acquired skills to their parents and local councillors and has never asked for anything but respect for the horses.