Winners Announced In Fifth Tendring Youth Awards

BRILLIANT young people who show enthusiasm, determination and passion for their community were celebrated at the 2021 Tendring Youth Awards.  The winners were unveiled at a glitzy presentation evening in Clacton’s Princes Theatre on Tuesday night (19 October), though the judges praised all those who were nominated and finalists. 

Celebrating their fifth year, the awards commemorate achievements by young people across a range of categories – along with a category for adults who support young people in Tendring. 

Harwich Haven Authority is the headline sponsor of this year’s Tendring Youth Awards, which are supported by Tendring District Council and Essex County Council. Other sponsors are Actual Radio, Tendring Careline, the Princes Theatre, Galloper Wind Farm and Nova Training. 

As always the judging panel had a difficult job assessing the high quality of nominations received, particularly in the special Covid Champion category introduced for 2021.  Karen O’Connor, Tendring Youth Awards Chairwoman, said she went home feeling inspired after the awards evening.  “Every year we receive so many amazing nominations it is always an almost impossible job to pick the finalists, let alone the winners – and this year was no exception,” she said.  “To read about their endeavours – whether in their personal or school life, or in the community – is enough to lift your spirit, but that goes through the roof when we speak to them at the awards night.  These awards are to celebrate our young people, as a whole, and the winners in particular are hugely inspirational; whether you’re close in age to them or 80 years older we should all aspire to be more like these fantastic young people.” Karen was presented with a surprise award on the night by the rest of the Tendring Youth Awards committee in recognition of her hard work and dedication in founding, and continuing to run and be the driving force behind the awards. 

Will Lodge, Tendring Youth Awards Vice-Chairman, added: “Karen is the spirit of the Awards, putting her heart and soul into them all because of her passion for young people and wanting to celebrate all that is positive about the youth of Tendring – and, as we saw last night, there is an awful lot to celebrate.” 

Also recognised on the night was former Tendring Youth Awards host Jack Speck, who was given a special award in thanks for his five years compering the evening. 

Alongside the award presentations were performances by B Collective, Stagestruck and Colchester Gang Show, as well as speeches by dignitaries. The night was watched on by Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Essex, as well as guests, sponsors and nominators. 

To keep up-to-date with the Tendring Youth Awards visit or go to the awards’ Facebook page – where this year’s awards were live streamed, and people are able to watch the ceremony again. 


Volunteer (Young Person aged 11-22) – Sponsored by Actual Radio. 
Charlie Latimer: Charlie has demonstrated incredible personal growth over the last seven years and never lets her autism stand in her way. She has participated in several local, national and internal fundraisers, and organises and runs activities for members across all ages of Girlguiding. She has recently become Clacton Lions’ Young Ambassador and regional champion on top of all her other voluntary work. 

Other finalists: Mia Lawrence; Samuel Foley 

Arts (Young Person aged 11-22) – Sponsored by the Princes Theatre.  
Craig Noakes: Craig is incredibly talented, which has seen him star in the West End musical Matilda for 18 months. Craig was recently awarded the Junior commendation at the ISTD Bursary awards, which will see a financial contribution made towards his future training in recognition of his exceptional dancing talent. 

Other finalists: The Cast of DNA; Jayden Thomas 

Community Improvement (Young Person aged 8-22) – Sponsored by Harwich Haven Authority.  
Elsie Pryer: Brightlingsea resident Elsie, nine, was inspired to fundraise for local charity Porridge and Pens, which supports children in Africa with food and access to education, and took on her own challenge. Organising a fun run around Hurst Green, Elsie ran 100 laps – almost 15 miles – in a single day, through the rain, to raise £1,000 for a bridge-building project in Ghana. 

Other finalists: Abigail Holmes; Max & Liam Hunter 

Young Carer (Young Person aged 8-19) – Sponsored by Tendring Careline 
Merson Griggs: For 12 years Merson’s helped his blind and disabled sister, guiding her around the house and holding bags of toys on journeys. Despite getting upset and hurting him at times Merson accepts this because “she’s my sister” – he has so much patience. His life is different to his peers; he cannot have playdates, we cannot go out as a family. His mum says: “He really does make me so proud.” 

Other finalists: Laci & Brody Wakeling; Alex Powell 

Learning Achievement (Young Person aged 11-22) – Sponsored by Tendring District Council. 
Zak Myers: At the beginning Zak struggled to make conversation due to his ASD, but displayed amazing perseverance with his learning, showing interest both in and outside of lessons; even completing an online zoology course. During his time at school he has made so much progress with his social and conversation skills. 

Other finalists: Ruby Doe-Stovell; Sion Ofori 

Outstanding Achievement (Young Person aged 11-22) – Sponsored by Essex County Council. 
Louie Whelan-Dorney: A small shy child with low-key nervous behaviours which developed into tics and Tourette’s Syndrome, Louie drew comfort from baking, regularly bringing creations to school. These became dinner parties as he moved into secondary school, where he was entered into a national competition. Louie was finalist in the Aspiring Chef 11-16 category, and winner in his age group. Louie displays resilience despite his disability and is well-respected in his community. 

Other finalists: Bobbi-Jo Lindsell; Ryan Butler-Wymark 

Personal Achievement (Young Person aged 8-22) – Sponsored by Nova Training. 
Adam Baraka: An avid Beaver and Cub, Adam not only achieved the highest awards in each section, but having taken on extra badge work during the lockdown has received the most badges ever seen by the leaders in their 30 years’ experience. They describe this (and we agree) as an “amazing achievement” helping to learn skills for life and achieve for the future, despite some personal challenges to overcome. 

Other finalists: Billy Cook; Caiden Page 

Covid Champion (Young Person aged 8-21). 
Ronnie Wilson: During the first lockdown Ronnie researched and 3D printed ear guards for front line workers. Ronnie funded the first 400 guards himself and then created an Amazon wish list so he could keep on growing and support more of his local community. Ronnie is still taking orders and has created more than 1,800 guards to date – with orders going out as far as Liverpool and Birmingham. 

Other finalists: Toby Carlton; Matylda Buda 

The Environmental Initiative Award (Young Person/group aged 8-22) – Sponsored by Galloper Wind Farm Ltd.  
Harwich Volunteer Police Cadets: The Harwich Police Cadets quickly became an essential part of the community. They have fully engaged in the Orwell Terrace Regeneration Project, befriending community representatives, turning a rubbish tip into a garden, while establishing the needs of the tenants. Cadets assisted the clearance of a property devastated by rain water damage and comforted residents. They are currently introducing drug and alcohol awareness programmes in schools working alongside local authorities. 

Other finalist: Oliver Stevenson 

Unsung Hero (Adult) – Sponsored by Harwich Haven Authority.  
Jay Barham: Jay’s business, a sweet treats trailer, is a social enterprise raising thousands of pounds for charities both local and national. Not content with that he has taken on five teenagers, given them training and skills – and, learning one of them has autism and ADHD, undertaken his own training to learn about the conditions and raised awareness of them with others. 

Other finalists: Mark Cox; Victoria Staras 

Committee’s Award 
Toby Carlton: During the lockdown Toby delivered food parcels to elderly and vulnerable people as well as those having to isolate. He worked tirelessly with the food bank to load and unload food and keep shelves stacked, as well as keeping other volunteers topped up with tea and coffee! Toby continues to support his community with odd jobs including shopping, painting and gardening, he is an asset to his community. 

The finalists all on stage

Need Help? Got Any Questions? [email protected]

Freephone 0800 8815115

Childline is a free, private and confidential, 24 hour counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years.
Call 0800 1111 or visit

NHS advice
If you are feeling unwell and need a telephone health assessment, please call the NHS service free of charge from any phone.
Call 111 or visit

A multi-award winning cyberbullying non-profit support organisation for young people experienced cyberbullying.
Call 0845 6887277 or visit

To offer a listening service for those going through a personal crisis and want to talk about their despair or suicidal feelings.
Call 0845 790 9090 (24 hours) or visit

Crisis Helpline
Emergency support team covering Colchester & Tendring.
Mental health and Wellbeing.
Call 0845 038 0800 (24 hours)