This will be the final week of my blog due to Purdah and the forthcoming elections in May, but what a fantastic week in which to bring my weekly updates to a close.
On Saturday evening we hosted the inaugural Our Young Stars Gala Awards Dinner at the Apex Hotel in Bath, and what a night it was! An emotional, humbling and truly unforgettable experience which was echoed by every one of the 280 guests who attended to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of sixteen incredible young people.
I came up with the idea after my wife Toni and I attended a similar event recognising outstanding young people in Bristol last year, and when we realised there was nothing like this in BANES we knew we had to change that. And so ‘Our Young Stars’ was born. We contacted schools, colleges, sports clubs and many other organisations across the region requesting nominations for children and young people who had made outstanding achievements, many in difficult or testing circumstances, and were overwhelmed to receive 70 nominations!
The current financial constraints within the Council meant that this would have to be an entirely self funded project, so I approached several well known names in the city to see if they would help. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Bath Rugby, The James Dyson Foundation, Rengen Developments, YTL Wessex Water and Kersfield who immediately agreed to be the five main sponsors. Another incredibly generous donation came from Southgate, the Bath BID and the St Johns Foundation who gave each of the 15 finalists a gift card to spend in over 200 shops and outlets across Bath.
In true Oscars style, our finalists were photographed on the red carpet when they arrived at the Gala Dinner, and we all enjoyed some wonderful entertainment from the talented young members of the Curtain Up Theatre School, then later in the evening some fantastic songs from the upcoming Fiddler on the Roof by the Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society – the talent of the cast is breathtaking and the show is a must for everyone to see!
But the stars of the night were our sixteen young people, who reminded us all what is actually important in life. Courage, selflessness, kindness and love. These young people had all of these qualities in abundance, and brought tears of respect and admiration from men and women alike throughout the room.
This is our first year hosting these awards, but it will certainly not be the last. There are so many children who deserve recognition and support within our region, and I intend to continue to celebrate their achievements for as long as I can.