Norfolk’s children in care honoured for achievements

The academic, sporting and personal achievements of almost 150 young people in care was celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

Award recipients and their families gathered at St Andrew's Hall, in Norwich, on Saturday to pick up their medals.

Among the young achievers, aged seven to 25, were graduates, talented musicians and even magicians who had all shown determination in overcoming adversity in their family lives. They were nominated for the awards by their carers, social workers and schools.

It was the sixth time the annual ceremony had taken place, which is organised by Norfolk County Council.

The council currently looks after about 700 children under 16 in care.

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services, who hosted the event, said: 'We are extremely proud of the children in our care, who have often overcome significant difficulties in their lives and have very many inspiring stories.

'Some of these young people are being recognised for their efforts in returning to school, achieving qualifications and volunteering in the community. For all of them their achievements have taken dedication and the aspiration to succeed and this is down to their own resolve, the fantastic care of their foster carers and the dedicated support of social workers and teachers.'

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Owen Garrod, corporate parenting team manager, added: 'I would speculate that the public have a general negative view of children in care. The press write about problems with youths or youth offending but what people don't hear a lot of is that our children do very well in school and many go onto university. They show skill on the sportsfield and in music and this is what this is all about.'

This year's inspirational speaker who was chosen to hand out the awards was Mark Cooper, from Edinburgh, who ran 50 marathons taking him from Amsterdam to Barcelona in 56 days.

After losing his mother at 14 to a brain haemorrhage, he began to smoke heavily, drink and got in trouble with the police before turning his life around by getting fit and motivating himself with a series of heroic challenges.

His running efforts not only earned him a sports award in the Daily Mail's Everyday Hero Award and a nomination at the Daily Record Great Scot Awards, but also raised about �30,000 for the charity Headway Group, which provided support for his family following his mother's death.

He said: 'When I heard about these awards I said I didn't care where it was, whether it was in Norwich or anywhere, I just wanted to come down and be here.'

Brother and sister Sarah and Mickey Knight, from North Walsham, both received awards for activities they took part in at school.

Although they live with separate foster families, the pair see each other daily at North Walsham High School.

Mickey, 13, was honoured for his street dancing talents he displayed at a school show and his improvement in lessons, while Sarah, 12, was awarded for being on the school council and helping to build a mini beast hotel in Knpaton Millennium gardens.

Previous award winner Sarah, who was placed in care just over two years ago, said: 'I'm really happy but shocked as I got an award last year for 100pc attendance at school and co-operating in every lesson.'

Cooking enthusiast Mickey, who has ambitions of becoming an actor or drama teacher, has been in care for just over a year.

He said: 'I feel happy and I'm enjoying it.'