Child friendly Leeds awards 2015 – a glittering ceremony for Leeds’ young people!

Child friendly Leeds awards 2015 – a glittering ceremony for Leeds’ young people!

The winners of the child friendly Leeds awards 2015 were finally revealed at a glittering ceremony held at Leeds City Varieties.

The ceremony was the culmination of the work of Thumbs Up Productions, a group of nine young people who have been working hard since September to plan every aspect of the ceremony and take part in on a once-in-a-lifetime project.

People across the city submitted a total of 547 nominations for the awards, voting for individuals, children, young people and organisations they thought were helping to make Leeds a child friendly city.

The nominations were for five different categories:

The ceremony at the Varieties was performed in front of a  full-capacity audience including city leaders and all those the special Leeds people who are helping to make the city a better place for children and young people to grow up.

Thumbs Up Production were eager to ensure the ceremony would be a glowing success and it was!

Doors opened at 5:30pm, with special guests, Tropical World’s missing meerkat Mango, Ronnie the Rhino and Leeds Ted amongst the first arrivals!

With the Leeds City Varieties auditorium filling up, city leaders such as the Lord Mayor, Councillor David Congreve, Nigel Richardson, director for children’s services; and Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children and families, took their seats to watch a selection of videos featuring young people from around the city.

As the clock neared 6:30pm all the audience sat in anticipation for the start of the ceremony. The lights in the auditorium went out and the crowd took a deep breath…

Punjabi Roots began the ceremony wowing the audience with Bhangra dancing and drumming!

After rapturous applause the three presenters Sian, Isaac and Olivia, members of the Thumbs Up Productions, took to the stage welcoming the audience and asking everyone to join their ‘selfie competition’ by using the #CFLawards Twitter hashtag and tweeting in a CFL-selfie from their seats!

The first award was for the Children’s champion (11-18 years). This award recognises an amazing young person (or group) age 11 – 18 whose positive impact is making Leeds a great city for children and young people.

Harry Phillips, who won ‘Youngster of the Year’ at the Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards, read the nominations and revealed the winner as…

Aimee Grayston!

Unfortunately Aimee was unable to attend the awards due to illness. However, she received the awards for being a truly inspirational young woman, who despite having a complex health condition and only being able to communicate using a head-switch operated communication aid has done a great job talking about her experiences and sharing views on how services for other young people with complex needs can be improved.

Sam from Thumbs Up Productions read a statement on Aimee’s behalf thanking everybody for her award.

Jessica Frost a nine year old finalist in Breeze Has Talent then sang a selection of songs from the Disney film Frozen!

The next award to be presented was for a Children’s champion (under 11 years). This award recognises an amazing young person (or group) age under 11 whose positive impact is making Leeds a great city for children and young people.

Amy Eckworth-Jones, the Leeds Children’s Mayor, was responsible for presenting this award…

Which went to Evie Addelman!

Evie is a 9-year- old who has battled Crohn’s disease for the last two years.  She received the award for raising over £3,000 to help Crohn’s and Colitis UK Society. Although Evie has been weakened by her illness, she faces every challenge with bravery.

Evie was delighted to receive her child friendly ‘golden thumb’!

Tonicka and Simran from South Asian Arts then performed a traditional Alarippu.

The next award was given in the Looking after children and young people category. This award is for an individual over 18 who is doing extraordinary things to improve the lives of children and young people in Leeds.

Lisa Coulson, a representative from British Gas, the award’s sponsor presented the award to…

Tim McSharry!

Tim is significantly visually impaired, yet volunteers with the Access Committee for Leeds, supporting children and young people with severe and complex learning disability and autism. He helps them  have their housing needs better met and helps families continue in their caring role, especially when the child exhibits difficult or destructive behaviour.

Tim was delighted to be the winner and told the audience that he would take some advice from the younger generation in accepting his award, declaring his win as being “sicckkkkkkk!”

The brother and sister magical duo of Abi and Reece Steadman then wowed the audience with some magic. Amongst the tricks up Reece’s sleeves was turning their pocket money into chocolate coins and transforming a balloon into a rabbit – but don’t worry, no bunnies were harmed in their stunning performance!

The magic was followed by ballroom dancing from two young performers from the City Varieties Youth Theatre, Georgina and Jacob who waltzed to Shostakovic’s Waltz No. 2 before surprising  onlookers by switching mid-performance to a street dance to Adriana Grande’s Bang Bang.

After the dance had finished, the next award to be presented was the Best place in Leeds for children and young people award that recognises a fantastic place for children and young people in Leeds.

David Congreve, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, took to the stage to announce that the winner was…

Herd Farm Residential and Activity Centre!

The residential centre won the award for being a place where children and young people of all abilities can enjoy fun activities at the right level for their needs. The centre’s employees are friendly and go out of their way to ensure everyone has a good time. It is often the first time that young people have been away from home and they make sure children and young people’s experience there is fun.

Livin’ Vocally, a young people’s choir from West Yorkshire Playhouse then performed a beautiful choral rendition of John Legend’s ‘All Of Me.’

For the final award of the night, Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, took to the stage to read the nominations and reveal the winner.

This final award for the Best overall contribution to child friendly Leeds is given to a group/organisation making a great contribution to our child friendly city ambitions, Councillor Blake revealed that the award winner was……

Leeds Rhinos Rugby Foundation!

Representatives from Leeds Rhinos Foundation Bob Bowman, the foundations director of operations and Leeds Rhino Challenge Cup winner, Jamie Jones-Buchanan accepted the award on behalf of the foundation.

Bob said how happy he was that the foundation could be recognised at the ceremony and Jamie lived a childhood dream by acting out a scheme from a Leeds City Varieties pantomime,  asking the crowd shout “he’s behind you!” and replying with a “oh, no he isn’t!”

The final performance was given by Breeze Has Talent winner George Hogson who sang a moving ballad of his own composition!.

Councillor Blake brought the ceremony to a close by stating that the awards ceremony was “quickly becoming one of her favourite events of the year” and thanking all those involved in making the ceremony a success: the audience; the awards sponsors and partner; the shortlisted winners and nominees; and the young planners the ceremony could have never happened without – Thumbs Up Productions.

In the final moments before the awards end  Sian, Isaac and Olivia reminded the audience of their #CFLawards selfie competition which they had announced at the beginning of the ceremony, and took their own ‘selfie’ of themselves on stage and the wowed audience in the background!

The winner of the selfie competition will be announced next week. For more information about the awards ceremony please follow @child_leeds on Twitter and use the #CFLawards hashtag.

Leeds City Council and our partners are working to make Leeds to be the best place for children and young people to grow up in.  To find out more about what we’re doing and how you can get involved, visit

If you would like to help the child friendly Leeds ambition, why not become a child friendly ambassador? If you would like to do this, please contact child friendly Leeds at  

The awards were hosted by the Leeds City Varieties, sponsored by British Gas, run in partnership with the Yorkshire Evening Post and supported by Marks &Spencer and First Direct Arena.




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