Our Child of Wales Awrads 2022 winners were honoured in an unforgettable ceremony on Friday 4th March at Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel. The star studded event shone a light on some of the most incredible children and young people across Wales.
You can follow their stories here
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. Soon, many pupils joined Sophie’s club and have learned about how they can make a difference.
She loved being at home during lockdown and focussed really hard on her schoolwork in the morning, so her afternoons could be spent with her ponies, planting fruit and veg and providing neighbours with letters and drawings. She holds regular eco meetings in school and they are currently aiming to be a plastic free school.
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.
McKenzie, now 11, has completed his cancer treatment and even though he still requires 3 monthly scans, and has a damaged pituitary gland which affects his growth, he still remains to have a positive outlook on life. He is still a happy child and is looking forward to being able to go on holiday and enjoy life as much as he can.
Mark Jermin, of Mark Jermin Stage School, knew that lockdown would be difficult for everyone, especially his students. So, when students were told to learn from home, Mark worked tirelessly to keep in touch with his students via video link.
He made it his mission to make sure that they stayed healthy, active and motivated. He was always there to support his students and he continues to inspire young people to believe in their dreams, and to go out and make them happen.
The Roberts Family
In 2012, when Henry was only five years old, he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour which required emergency surgery. Just as Henry was finishing his treatment in 2015, his brother Edward was diagnosed with an equally rare and life-threatening form of cancer. It is hard to imagine the devastation this lovely family have felt, yet their positive attitude has remained inspiring and admirable throughout adversity.
Whilst the last 18 months were difficult for the Roberts family, with memories of isolation and protection from germs being brought back, they made the most of their extended time spent together. They grasped opportunities when they could go out and took walks in the sea air and in their local area.
Flourish - Summer of Picnics
Lewis Craven, who has autism, had heard about 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.
During the pandemic, some of the chefs continued to support families in parks, playgroups and their own gardens during summer holidays. Lewis and some of his colleagues now attend Cardiff and the Vale College and others have gone on to full time employment.
Andrea is 19 years old and the eldest of eight siblings. She came to the UK with her family from Slovenia 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.
Over the last 18 months, Andrea has found even more of her independence and is working full time and has moved into a flat with her boyfriend. She is happy in herself and where she is and is thankful for all of the opportunities she has had to get her where she is now.
Bethan represents an inspirational young person in so many ways. Her mother has four types of epilepsy and she 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 and she also sat on the board for the Young Person Commissioner for Wales.
Bethan, now 19, has pushed herself further over the last 18 months and is being trained up to be a senior carer in a care home for the elderly. She is often working 12 hour shifts, but that doesn’t stop her, she’s straight home from work and back out at the Karate club.
Casey-Jane lived in fear and with severe anxiety for many years because of being bullied. She has made so many strides to overcome her fears and now campaigns for change in the mental health services in Wales. She was a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and often spoke at conferences where she shared her story. 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.
Now 18, Casey-Jane has been working nonstop at the Principality stadium and is leading a team to provide the best experience for visitors when games are on. She was a rock for her family during covid and helped to support her mum and family.
Ffion, based in Furnace, took to YouTube to create fun “follow the rules” videos during lockdown in 2020.
Often donning fun fancy dress such as a nun, Carmen Miranda, Cruella Devil and many more, her videos were uplifting for the whole community. She made following the rules fun and many in the community were often waiting to see which character she would portray next. Her videos were so loved that they were noticed by Michael Sheen and Jennie McAlpine and she even featured on ITV News. She also coined her own catch phrase, used at the end of each video, “Cwtch in and have a drink.”
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 16 Harp Solo in the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2018 and she won first place in the Harp Duet (Open Age Category) in Gwyl Cerdd Dant 2019.
Cerys has had a hugely successful 20 months and has had successful auditions for 2021 National Children’s Orchestra of GB Under 13’s and 2022 National Children’s Main Orchestra of GB. She has also secured mentorship for 12 months by BBC Symphony Orchestra Harpist and performed alongside Sheku Kanneh- Mason and Alexander Armstrong at a fundraising gala in 2021.
Abi has a congenital undiagnosed muscle condition which means the muscles in her body are very weak, and as a result, she requires a wheelchair. She does so much for others and in March 2019, Abi organised a Zumbathon to raise money for research into Huntington’s Disease. She also cut all of her hair off in 2019 and sent it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have suffered hair loss.
Lockdown was a difficult time for Abi, but she pressed forward with her positive attitude and kept herself busy by doing quizzes, dressing up, performing karaoke and having holidays’ in the garden. Over the last few months, Abi has been making up for lost time by seeing McFly and Fatboy Slim in concert, attending 2 festivals and spending time with her friends.
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.
Lily has had an incredible 18 months and is currently studying sports coaching and development as well as giving talks and mentorship to schools and individuals. She held a WCMX and Adaptive Skate Jam in October, which was aimed at increasing participation in the sport. She has also recently worked with Redbull, had a feature in Redbulletin magazine and has filmed TV and radio productions. She is now working with USA skateboarding and skateboarding GB with the aim to get WCMX and Adaptive skateboarding into the Paralympics by 2028.
The Roots Foundation Wales
Based on her own experiences, Emma identified a need for children to be better supported when they leave the care system. So, she founded the charity The Roots Foundation Wales. 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.
They have a dedicated and passionate team, both paid and volunteers who have worked tirelessly through the last 18 months, ensuring that young people in care are supported to an excellent standard.
Holly & Emily Walker
Sisters Holly, aged 16, and Emily, aged 14, 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 £175,000.
Lockdown didn’t stop Holly & Emily with their fundraising. They were instrumental in the promotion and running of “Walk for Tom” – whereby 250 people from around the world were encouraged to get out in the fresh air and walk.