Words by CEO Paul Laffey:
The Youth Matters Awards are hosted annually by YMCA England & Wales. These prestigious awards celebrate local YMCAs and the work they do within their local communities. There are 101 YMCAs working across 740 Communities in England & Wales.
This year, Burton YMCA was nominated for three top awards;
-Family work project of the year for our Mediation and Counselling services run by Peter O’Reilly and Sarah Pettifer
-COVID hero of the year for Tom Foster
-YMCA of the year
After a round of public votes in the Summer, the winner from the finalists were to be decided by a panel of judges.
A number of staff and volunteers travelled from Burton to London on Friday 5th November for the awards ceremony which was held at the Sheraton hotel on Park Lane.
Over 350 people from different YMCAs from England & Wales gathered to watch the awards which was hosted by TV host Paul Sinha from The Chase. Presentations were given from World YMCA Secretary Carl Sanvee and YMCA Europe’s Juan, Simoes Iglesias, and National YMCA England & Wales Chair Reg Bailey, and National Board members.
To be nominated for the awards and reach the finals means the work of Peter, Sarah and Tom were highly regarded. Despite not winning at the finals, they made us feel incredibly proud of everything they and our volunteers have achieved, especially in delivering services throughout the pandemic.
Recently retired staff member Kath Stokes was genuinely surprised to have picked up “The Red Triangle Award” which was awarded for long, exceptional and dedicated service to the YMCA. It was lovely to see her receive a standing ovation. Kath had been with YMCA Burton since 1988 before she retired in April this year. Her award was richly deserved.
The last award was “The YMCA of the Year”. Burton YMCA was up against YMCA Derbyshire and One YMCA in Hertfordshire. After a tense few moments, the winners were announced…. YMCA BURTON!!!!
We all jumped up to our feet! As did the rest of the room and all attending staff and volunteers went on stage to collect the award. I was honoured to give an impromptu speech where I was able to thank our young people, clients, staff, volunteers, trustees, supporters and funders for the part they all play in serving those that Burton YMCA work with 365 days a year.
I give thanks to God for the work of YMCA Burton, which next year celebrates it’s 135th year. We have a programme of events that will showcase the Charity throughout the year, show what we have achieved these past 135 years and show why we are still as needed and as relevant in the 21st Century.
This YMCA of the Year Award is dedicated to everyone who has engaged with the Charity since 1887, and those who continue to do so in the future. We will continue to ensure the local community receives the support it needs and deserves.