There was cause for a double celebration after Blackpool’s youngsters showed themselves to be the cream of the county when they won the top prizes at the High Sheriff’s Young Citizen of the Year awards.
14-year-old Natalie Markham won the individual Young Citizen of the Year prize, while the team award was presented to teenagers from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Prince’s Trust Blackpool Team 53.
The awards ceremony, held at Lancashire Police Headquarters in Hutton, near Preston, saw High Sheriff Jeremy Gorwick present awards to recognise the outstanding achievements of the county’s youngsters through their voluntary and charitable work.
Natalie, of Claremont Road, North Shore, said she was “stunned” to win the prize.
She added: “I’m just really shocked – I’m speechless. I was pleased to be nominated and never even expected to win the top prize. I’m stunned.”
In the past three years, the Bispham High School student has taken part in concerts, cake sales and dance-a-thons, collecting more than £7,000 for Red Nose Days, Comic Relief and Children in Need.
In that time, her family has been hit by serious illness – her disabled grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and her grandfather fell and broke his shoulder blade. While they received treatment, Natalie helped tirelessly by cooking meals, cleaning, washing and shopping.
Each year she volunteers at summer school which helps new students to make friends and settle in to high school quicker.
PCSO Nicola Leigh, who is based at Bispham High School, nominated Natalie. She said: “Natalie is a fantastic role model for her peers and the younger children and is rarely seen without a smile on her face. She is a credit to her family and to Bispham High School. While there is the utmost admiration for people who manage to turn disruptive or negative behaviour around, Natalie has always remained positive and she deserves a pat on the back.”
In the Team of the Year awards, Blackpool Team 53 swept to victory.
In January 2012 the teenagers enrolled on a course, which aimed to help get their lives back on track, by developing skills such as confidence, communication, reliability and self esteem while gaining recognised qualifications.
During the 12 week course, they helped transform Donna’s Dream House, a Blackpool-based charity helping ill children, after £100,000 of damage was caused following an arson attack.
One of the team, Colin Marshall, 19, of High Street, North Shore said: “It’s amazing to win and great for the team – I’m still shaking. We just had to help at the dream house.
“Together we decorated walls and enhanced the remembrance garden. We also designed and built a tiered tower in an area which had been destroyed by the fire.”