YOUNG people have been rewarded for their inspirational efforts and accomplishments in the Pride of Somerset Youth Awards 2024.

The ceremony, which took place on Thursday, May 16 at The McMillan Theatre in Bridgwater, was hosted by BBC's Simon Parkin.

Young people aged 8 to 18 were recognised for overcoming adversity and "achieving amazing things".

Speaking about the 17th Pride of Somerset Awards, Andy Berry, Principal and CEO of Bridgwater & Taunton College who sponsored the event, said: “What a wonderful evening, young people from across the county go above and beyond, often in the face of adversity, achieving amazing things.

"This is a great opportunity to reflect on and recognise their achievements. I was blown away and really touched to hear about their accomplishments.”

Food was supplied by Somerset Larder, another sponsor.

Who were the winners?

Care Award

Leah Spanswick, a young carer, won the Care Award, which was sponsored by the Somerset County Gazette.

Leah, who looks after her wheelchair-bound mum, was rewarded for supporting with daily tasks such as tube feeding and dressing.

Not only that, but Leah is also a St Johns Ambulance cadet, supporting them with fundraising activities. 

Environmental Award

Daniel Lee Barnett was crowned winner of the Environmental Award, sponsored by This is Gravity.

14-year-old Daniel, who studies cryptozoology, has a podcast and has featured in the national press.

He has delivered classes to teenagers in Mexico and is due to be a guest speaker at a Florida Conference this summer, delivering a talk to over 5,000 scientists and researchers.

Charity/Volunteer Hero

Archie and Jack, who tragically lost their dad in a car accident in 2022, won the Charity/Volunteer Hero Award, which was sponsored by Young Somerset.

In their dad's memory, the pair took part in the 3 Peaks challenge and raised over £7,000 for bereavement charity Josephine's Star.

Community Hero

Josh Harvey was recognised in the Community Hero Award category, sponsored by Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust.

Josh has taken on many roles inside and outside of college. Josh is a volunteer coach to an under 7s football team, Vice-Chairman of the Burnham Town Board, a member of the Burnham Bus-Users group, an East Huntspill Parish Councillor, and active member of the College’s Student Union.

On top of this, Josh has completed charity runs and fundraising activities.

Outstanding Courage Award

The Outstanding Courage Award, which was sponsored by Somerset Larder, was given to 9-year-old Theo Trevor Eades.

Theo, who has adverse reactions to anaesthetics, has undergone 14 surgeries for a number of health issues. Theo, who keeps on smiling despite everything, has bilateral hearing loss and often wakes in pain. 

He has been mature above his years, adapting to home schooling whilst waiting for a transfer to a new school. 

Championing Positive Mental Health Award

Judges awarded two people with the Championing Positive Mental Health Award, which is sponsored by Bounce Forward.

Freya Gudge, who sadly lost her dad to suicide in November 2022, raised nearly £3,000 for the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) by running 30 half marathons in 30 days. She was joined by her brother Fin.

Sienna Kayes founded the Finding Peace Foundation to support those with mental health struggles.

Sienna and fellow advocates visited schools and hospitals to share their experience and reduce the negative stigma which surrounds mental health issues.

The community has also donated 35 'worry boxes' to Kingsmead School.

Art & Culture Award

Ernie Shorten won the Art & Culture Award, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Taunton.

Ernie, a largely self-taught dancer, toured the South West with his first work called "4 minutes" and went on to receive critical acclaim at the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

Ernie, who has been a member of Stacked Wonkey since he was 8-years-old, has this year joined the National Youth Dance Company, one of 25 selected from the UK, and the first dancer from Somerset to join in a decade. 

Sporting Achievement Award

Trampolinist Theo was named as a winner of the Sporting Achievement Award, sponsored by Passion of Somerset.

Theo, who represents Bridgwater & Taunton College, is actively involved with British Gymnastics and England Gymnastics and helps to mentor and inspire his fellow athletes.

Young Person of Year Award

Sponsored by Bridgwater & Taunton College, this award was given to Ellie Bealing, a student at King Arthurs School in Wincanton.

Ellie has a range of roles in the school. She is on the School Council, Head of School and represents the school and Somerset as an elected member of the Youth Parliament.

She is also a member of the British Youth Council.

She has campaigned for a voice for young people in Somerset and has even spoke at the House of Commons.

Sandy Padgett Award

This award, which is sponsored by Avon & Somerset Police, was created to recognise those that truly go above and beyond.

The winners of this award included Fred Bale, Lewis Townsend, Ollie Chorley, Sawyer Hansford, Josh Hatt, Charlie Barden, Alfie Bale and Alex Peek, who make up ZP4.

In 2022, Alex's brother, Zach, unexpectedly passed away. In honour of his best friend, who had a love for football and cricket, Fred Bale raised funds for a bench at Bridgwater Cricket Club. Fred and his friends exceeded the £1,000 fundraising goal and raised an impressive £37,000.

Zach's brother, teammates and friends set out on a fundraising journey (the ZP4 tour) in February 2024, inspired by their previous success.

They aimed to visit all 20 Premier League stadiums plus Wembley within 60 hours. ZP4 started in Bridgwater and concluded at Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City. Covering 1,073 miles in 58 hours and 57 minutes, they completed the challenge and raised another £9,000.

The money raised is set to be allocated to a memorial fund in Zach's honour, which will pay to construct an astro pitch in his memory.