A 15-year-old Preston schoolboy has won a computer to help with his studies after being crowned the overall winner at an awards ceremony organised by Lancashire Constabulary.
David Stewart, from the Ingol area of Preston, is one of several youngsters from Preston to be given recognition at a glittering awards ceremony for Lancashire Constabulary’s Celebration of Young People’s Awards held at Preston North End last night.
The awards, which involved partner agencies across Lancashire, are part of the Operation Summer Nights campaign, which has been running throughout the summer.
At an awards ceremony last night the commitment, energy and enthusiasm of young people across the county was rewarded.
David was crowned the overall winner after he stood out above five other winners in the final of the judging awards.
He was also given first place in the Back on Track section of the awards after he totally transformed his life.
Earlier this year, David was referred to the Group Intervention Panel (GRIP) in Preston, which works with children at risk of becoming young offenders.
He has since turned his life around. He organised his own work experience at a local golf club which was so successful that he was offered longer-term employment.
He attended all his sessions – one of which involved a visit to Preston Prison, where he and his mother spent the day experiencing the inside of a prison and meeting offenders.
He also wrote about his experience so that other people could learn from him.
Judith Gluyas, GRIP co-ordinator, said: “David embarked on one-to-one sessions in anger management, school work, and other themes.
"A major part of the package was the Time for Change programme in which David spent the day in prison.
"This was a major factor in David deciding it wasn’t a route he wanted to take.
“Within a short space of time, David’s behaviour at school improved incredibly.
"As a result of his changing behaviour, he was nominated for Student of the Year.
“It’s really clear David has made a life change. He’s continuing to work at the golf club and he’s working really hard at school. I’m really proud of him.
"He really deserves this award as he’s turned his life around and is definitely back on track.”
David’s father, David Stewart snr, added: “Since he completed the course he is a changed lad.
“You’ll find him at the golf club all the time now, even when he’s not working.
“His mother and I and his brothers and sisters are very proud of him. We hope he stays out of trouble and settles down with a job.”
Winner of the Exceptional Commitment Award was Cameron Small, ten, from the Grimsargh area of Preston.
Cameron has fought Evans Syndrome, a rare blood illness, for more than nine years and has needed multiple blood and platelet transfusions as well as four courses of chemotherapy and other harsh medications.
As a result, he has been left diabetic and requires insulin four times daily.
He came up with the idea of fundraising when he was just four years old while in Pendlebury Children’s Hospital and has since raised more than £79,500 for the hospital, helping to equip the wards with TVs, computers, games, laptops and PlayStations.
Mohammed Allad, 17, from the Fishwick area of Preston, scooped the Young People’s Champion Award.
Mohammed decided to get involved in volunteering for a local community organisation and as a result gained valuable accreditations and training in first aid, football coaching and food hygiene.
Mohammed has proved to be a great mentor and a popular figure to the youths and has successfully completed 200 hours’ of voluntary service to his local organisation.
Together with two community colleagues, Mohammed recently attended Westminster to showcase a Prince’s Trust project which involved drugs education to young people in Preston.
Youngsters Luke Stringfellow, Lee Gray, Catherine Baines, Tom Wignall, Natalie Embery, Kieran Jones, Hayley Lancaster, Elishia Tucker, Scott Parker, Chris Monk, Nicola Lowe, Daniel Baron, Joanna Hartford-Fisher, Vicki Hodson and Stephanie Harwood, who make up “Preston Team 37” of The Prince’s Trust – were first runners up in the Improving the Community category.
The youngsters came to the programme with a number of issues such as lack of confidence.
As part of the course, the team were required to plan and carry out a community project which they undertook at Fishergate Baptist Church community rooms.
The team painted and decorated two rooms and acquired funding for new carpeting throughout both.
They managed to achieve this in just eight days. Since the programme, four team members have gained full-time employment, one secured a motoring apprenticeship, one completed an FA coaching badge, three secured college places and A-Levels and one is volunteering for Preston Panthers.
Deputy Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: “We see so much in the media these days that is negative about young people but we rarely see or hear anything about the positive contributions being made by the vast majority of youngsters up and down the country.
“The Operation Summer Nights partnership decided to buck the trend and embarked upon a campaign which gave people an opportunity to recognise and highlight some of the inspirational examples of young peoples’ contributions in Lancashire.
“We had an overwhelming number of nominations for the awards and it just goes to show that there are so many young people who make a positive contribution to their communities and we want these people to be encouraged and recognised.”