Meet our worthy winners – our 2020 heroes
Due to the cancellation of our awards ceremony due to COVID-19, we have unveiled our winners virtually since we did not want them to be waiting any longer to celebrate. You can read more about why we did that here.
Below, you can meet each of our inspirational winners briefly – we explain a little about their lives and their courage and achievements.
But we didn’t want to give everything away just yet either. We will be telling their stories in more detail over the coming months culminating in a rearranged gala awards evening now taking place on April 9, 2021 (COVID-19 permitting). Enjoy.
MEET THE WINNERS
Child of Courage: under 13 years
In November 2018, McKenzie began complaining about a stiff neck and swollen lymph nodes. He was taken to various doctors and eventually diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. Since then, McKenzie has endured five gruelling cycles of chemotherapy and 34 sessions of proton-beam therapy. He has never once complained. Despite the partial loss of hearing due to chemotherapy, McKenzie still remains incredibly brave and his story is an inspiration to all.
Child of Courage: 13-18
Abi has a congenital undiagnosed muscle condition which means the muscles in her body are very weak. As a result, she requires a wheelchair and is tube-fed due to an inability to swallow. Her main goal is to walk independently. She does much for others. In March 2019, Abi organised a Zumbathon and raised £1,220 for research into Huntington’s Disease. She also cut all of her hair off last year and sent it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have suffered hair loss.
Casey-Jane is a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and speaks at conferences where she shares her story of overcoming bullying and dealing with severe anxiety. She campaigns for change in the mental health services in Wales after living in fear for many years because of being bullied. Casey-Jane is an inspiration to other young people that may have endured challenging times and is an active supporter of the Barnardo’s Believe in Me campaign.
Young Sporting Hero
A remarkable athlete, Lily was swimming at Welsh level in Paralympic trials when she was just 12 years old. She then discovered Wheelchair Motocross. Six months after she started participating in the sport, Lily became the first person in Europe and the youngest person ever to perform a wheelchair backflip. Lily has since won several titles, including Gold in the German Open and she became Women’s World Champion in 2019.
Cerys is a dedicated young harpist who first came across a harp aged six and has loved it ever since. Unfortunately, her peers at school began bullying her for her love of music which resulted in her moving schools. She has many accomplishments including winning the Under 16s Harp Solo in the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2018 when only 10 years of age; she won the Urdd Hap Solo under 12s that same year. She was also first place in the Harp Duet (Open Age Category) in Gwyl Cerdd Dant 2019.
Exceptional Young Carer
Andrea is 18 years old and one of eight siblings. She came to the UK with her family from Slovakia when she was four years old. As she grew up, she adopted the role of carer for her siblings as her parents couldn’t look after them. She cooked, cleaned, and often went without food so that her siblings could eat. Andrea missed a lot of school to look after her siblings but has never once complained and always exhibits a remarkably cheerful nature.
Sophie was severely bullied at school. With no friends to play with and a keen interest in environmental matters, she would instead spend her lunch breaks litter picking. When Sophie changed schools, she took this interest to a new level. She started an eco-club, which implemented many environmentally positive changes at the school, including new recycling bins. Sophie’s enthusiasm motivated many pupils to join her club and, as a result, they too have learned about how they can make a difference.
Lewis Craven (Flourish Summer of Picnics)
Lewis Craven, who has autism, had heard about so-called holiday hunger, whereby some families struggle to feed their children during the school holidays. As a passionate cook, Lewis joined a Lottery-funded scheme called Flourish, run by Cardiff Community Housing Association, which feeds 500 people a week during the summer holidays. The Flourish Summer of Picnics, as it became known, comprised 18 young chefs aged from 15-21 who came together at a commercial kitchen in Butetown to make up picnics and packed lunches for families in need.
Bethan represents an inspirational young person in so many ways. Her mother has four types of epilepsy and has always worked tirelessly to help her father with the challenges they face. She became a qualified karate instructor at 12 and opened her own not-for-profit karate club with the aim of making it more affordable for young people to join. When she isn’t teaching karate, Bethan volunteers for the police. She also sits on the board for the Young Person Commissioner for Wales. And Bethan hasn't stopped there, as well as maintaining college, Bethan now works at a nursing home and is an assistant leader in the police cadets.
The Roberts family
Henry was just five months old in 2012 when he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour, which required emergency surgery. Two years after Henry finished his treatment in 2015, which lasted six months, his brother Edward was diagnosed with an equally rare and life-threatening form of cancer and underwent treatment for a whole year. It is hard to imagine the devastation this lovely family have felt, yet their positive attitude has remained inspiring and admirable throughout adversity.
Holly & Emily Walker
Sisters Holly, aged 14, and Emily, aged 12, sadly lost their brother Tom to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in June 2018 when he was just 13. Since then, the sisters have raised a huge sum of money in his memory for Cancer Research Wales. One fundraising event, called ‘Swim for Tom’, saw over 600 swimmers swim a combined total of 39,000 lengths and raise over £25,000. Tom’s parents and sisters have also raised funds for a research scholarship for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia research, with the total raised approaching a remarkable £120,000.
The Roots Foundation
Based on her own experiences, Emma Lewis identified a need for children to be better supported when they leave the care system. So she founded the charity the Roots Foundation. Thanks to the DIY SOS Big Build programme, the charity has an amazing base in Swansea with apartments where young people are taught how to transition positively into independent living. The Roots Foundation, which is run by volunteers, also provides activities, training, workshops, support groups and coffee mornings.