Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards 2023

Friday, 24 November 2023 14:31

On Thursday 23 November, young people, invited guests and organisations from across the region gathered in Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries to take part in the annual DG Youth Awards, which aims to celebrate the achievements and talents of young people from across Dumfries and Galloway. The fifth annual awards were fully funded by the National Lottery and sponsored by 10,000 Voices in Action. The theme for this year’s event was Neon, providing a very special and exciting platform to showcase the fantastic young people and groups we have across the region.

The evening got underway with an energetic neon themed performance from Ultimate Dance Effect from Dumfries, followed by opening remarks from Finlay Anderson, Chairperson of Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council.

Jim Sweeney MBE, Former Chief Executive at Youth Link Scotland delivered the keynote speech in which he described the importance of Youth Work in young people through building their confidence and resilience.

The audience heard the inspirational stories of the 24 finalists, who were shortlisted from just over 200 nominations, with the final category winners announced on the night.

The winners of the categories were:

Sport – Matilda Brockley

Matilda is an incredibly hard working and dedicated young person. Competing in the Triple Jump at Cardiff International Sports Campus against teams from England, U18, England U20 and Welsh schools, she jumped 11.51m to secure Gold for Scotland, despite only being 15 years old.

Matilda is a huge inspiration for pupils at Langholm and Canonbie schools. She works exceptionally hard to compete at national level, while also committing to her studies at Langholm Academy. Matilda coaches young pupils at schools and is a wonderful role model to our younger pupils.

Equality – Dumfries and Galloway Young Women’s Network

Dumfries and Galloway Young Women’s Network has ambitious plans to make Dumfries and Galloway, and beyond, a fairer, safer place for young women. The Young Women’s Network, although in the very early stages of development, has been set up by young people to create a platform where they can stand together in solidarity against inequalities, poverty, racism, transphobia and oppression.

The network aims to empower young women, raise aspirations, build confidence and resilience and take steps towards making meaningful change within our communities. The group have forged alliances with sister organisations in Northern Ireland, Wales and England, and now have a four-nations network to collaborate, share experiences and work together for a better future for young women.

Young Enterprise and Business – Maeve Reekie

Maeve is an exceptional young woman who has made a significant difference to thelocal community through her business ‘Maeve Reekie Makeup’, and now ‘DaydreamBeauty’. Starting her first business from home at just 16, offering make-up lessons,Maeve overcame many obstacles and challenges to get to where she is now.

In just six years, she has gone from working out of her bedroom to co-owning a beauty salon and employing six other up and coming beauty therapists. Maeve is a force to be reckoned with and someone many people look up to and admire.

Young Change Maker – Mia Gray

Mia continuously goes above and beyond for her community in Upper Nithsdale. She has been an active volunteer for many years in different roles including Kelloholm & Kirkconnel Beaver Scouts, 10,000 Voices, Young Women's Network, Young Leader at Kelloholm Youth Group, and volunteers in various roles at Sanquhar Academy where she is a student.

Mia manages her schoolwork, work and various volunteering roles with patience, enthusiasm and passion. She is an incredibly inspiring young person who holds professionalism, dedication and passion.

Culture, Arts and Entertainment – Helena Cochrane

Helena started her own astrophotography YouTube channel to help educate people onastronomy and astrophotography, and share her many amazing images of the night sky. Helena teaches people from a beginners level what to look for. She has made films onwhat equipment you should use, what the best kits for beginners are, when is best to go and she also talks about all the different planets you can photograph. Most of Helena’s videos have had over 20,000 views on YouTube.

Helena's YouTube channel has helped to educate young people and adults in her community and all over the world. She has worked with uniformed organisations and the local primary school to share her astronomy knowledge of the night sky and astrophotography.

Young Volunteer – Dylan Guenther

Dylan has attended youth groups in Stewartry for many years and would regularly cycle to Castle Douglas and back because the bus service was so poor. He started volunteering at Youth Groups in 2022, completing young leader training before joining the staff team at Junior Youth Group in Dalbeattie.

Dylan has very quickly established a hugely positive reputation with staff after also volunteering during the set-up and take-down of Youth Beatz. He has set his sights on becoming a Youth Worker. He dedicates his time towards making a difference in his local community by using the skills he has learned and putting these into practice with young people, and he has quickly built very strong relationships. Dylan is passionate about Youth Work and regularly goes above and beyond, trying to improve the lives of young people through his voluntary work.

Unsung Hero – Chelsay McDill

Chelsay is a very unselfish person, constantly putting others before herself. Caring for her autistic sister from birth to now, she also helped care for her mother, papa, and great grandmother, all on top of her work with Let’s Get Sporty. Chelsay is a massive support to all her friends and family and does not like to see anyone struggle especially the more vulnerable people in life.

Chelsay also has her own medical conditions that can quite often make her life difficult, but she puts them aside and continues to support her family, friends and peers alike. She is a very kind, caring, loving and protective person who cheers everyone up just by being there.

Group of the Year – Amazing Summer Camp Young Leaders

The Amazing Summer Camp Young Leaders group led on the operation of summer activity camps for young people across Dumfries and Galloway in Summer 2023. This group of young people were instrumental in running workshops, activities, setting up tents and supporting young people some of whom were on their first residential trip away from home.

Every member of the leadership group was essential in the running of the summer camp and their passion and dedication was reflected in the enjoyment of every young person who attended. The group provided young people with a unique opportunity to create friendships, build confidence and experience enriching activities.

Youth Worker of the Year (Paid) – Lisa Martin, Wigtownshire

Lisa has been involved in Youth Work for over 20 years, starting her career as a sessional Youth Worker at Kaos Cafe in Wigtown, and has since worked across many groups in Stranraer, Whithorn, Newton Stewart, Stranraer Academy and the Douglas Ewart High School.

Over the years Lisa has also volunteered countless hours to supporting community projects such as the Brownies, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the local church and Wigtown Festival. Lisa has dedicated her entire career to young people, and has helped scores of young people reach their potential and lead, happy, healthy and achieving lives – as well as providing emotional support to hundreds of young people over the last 20 years.

Youth Worker of the Year (Volunteer or Volunteer Involving Organisation) – Angela Gilmour

Angie has given up her time to invest in a small group of local young people, harnessing their passion for photography and the arts. Angie has developed a programme of course work to help them understand how a camera works and the functions it can offer to help them capture fantastic imagery.

Angie provides a safe space for these young people to come together, make new friends and take part in new opportunities that they would not normally get the chance to do. Angie has also adapted the group when there have been school closures and school holidays to ensure that the young people are still able to access the group, remaining a consistent safe person for them.

The evening was brought to a close by the Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Ian Blake, who reflected on the importance of Youth Work in communities across Dumfries and Galloway and congratulated the youth work sector in our region for continuing to deliver high quality and sector leading youth work opportunities in our region.

Speaking after the event, Councillor Blake said “The Youth Awards was a fun-filled evening celebrating the value and diversity of youth work in Dumfries and Galloway. The stories and journeys of the young people who received awards are inspirational and I am extremely proud of their achievements. Youth work is happening in all of our communities, towns and villages in Dumfries and Galloway, and as a region we should be proud of that.”

Following a live audience vote on the evening, the Amazing Summer Camp Young Leaders were awarded the overall “Young Person of the Year 2023” Award.

The Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards were fully funded by the National Lottery and 10,000 Voices.

Vice Chair of Communities Committee, Councillor Jackie McCamon said: “We are incredibly grateful to our funders at the National Lottery and 10,000 Voices for making the DG Youth Awards 2023 possible. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all winners, finalists, those who were awarded certificates, and I would also like to thank every young person from across Dumfries and Galloway for continuing to provide a source of positivity and inspiration for us all.”