vInspired Awards 2012


Just a short stroll from London Waterloo, the BFI IMAX welcomed
the largest volunteering awards in the country. Into its third year the
vInspired Awards have already congratulated and recognized over 160
young volunteers (aged 16-25) for their efforts via star studded
ceremonies as the Indigo O2. This year Big Brothers Bit On The Side
presenter Emma Willis and Comedian Eddie Kadi hosted the
event, with the help of a mixed bag of well known faces from sport,
film, music and politics. Emma brought her down to earth warmth to
proceedings, looking impossibly flawless in a plum tiered dress, with
Eddie offering cheekiness, cracking dance moves and light relief to the
highly emotional evening.
Prior to kicking off I lingered in the press room to try and grab
chats with some of the nights performers and presenters. Not wishing to
disturb  Trevor Nelson, who was busy chatting to host of people
connected to the wonderful awards including the lovely people from
FairShareMusic, I waited till one of the nights performers came down. I
must admit I spent a while trying not to get distracted by Danielle Brown’s killer body, which had been showcased marvelously by a body conscious gold mini dress.

Angel singer

First up I got to have a quick natter with charming soulful singer Angel, whose song ‘Go In, Go Hard’, featuring Wretch 32 is
currently on release. We would see the duo unite on stage during the
evenings festivities, receiving head bobbing approval for urban music
legend Nelson, who was sitting two rows in front of me. Next I managed
to steal a few fun minutes with the vibrant beauties from girl group of
the moment Stooshe. They were such lovely bubbly company  I
almost forgave them for making me feel like an utter frump when situated
amongst their outlandish outfits. We chatted about new found fame, the
horrors of being spotted and stalking celebrities at festivals. Despite
admitting to always feeling apprehensive before heading on stage the
girls had no need to worry on this occasion, putting on a mood lifting
mini set in-between awards – although I had noticed that one of the
girls had replaced her super high heels for the safety and comfort of
DM’s, a wise decision considering the hazardous route to the stage!

Also adding a suitably celebratory musical element to the evening was the diminutive Tinchy Stryder
who also gave out an award as well as closing the ceremony. Having
stolen my affections after his numerous appearances on some of my
favourite panel shows I was hoping to catch up with the urban-pop star,
sadly he was suffering from a jippy tum and was indulging in a dose of
Nandos in the hope it might help give him a much needed boost. The young
audience were of course lapping up his renditions of the Dappy
collaboration single ‘ ‘Spaceship’ as well as the classic, ‘Number ‘1. I
was surprised to see some of the older attendees remaining in their
seats for his segment of the show, but whether it was out of duty and
politeness rather than pure enjoyment remains a mystery.

Being the emotional wreck I am I fully expected the tear ducts to
utilized during the evening. I joined an equally soft Emma Willis in
shedding my first tear to the story of Joanna Mayes, the
courageous young woman who won an award for bringing communities
together. I caught up with Joanna after the ceremony to see how she
would celebrate her win.
Seeing as he is now an inspiration to many youths of the UK with his drive, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, SBTVs Ceo Jamal Edwards
was an obvious choice to present an award, and chose to speak words
written on his iphone as a fresh response to witnessing the individual
volunteer stories during the evening. I managed to catch the successful
young man for a chat before he left the venue. It would turn out that he
was also celebrating his own landmark achievement.
The main points, enhanced articulately and passionately by Terry Ryall,
CEO of vInspired, is that the people we celebrated during the evening
haven’t asked for a pat on the back, but that the many good things
youths are doing and achieving in the UK should be recognized by events
such as this. All too often society and the media concentrate on the
negative stories and statistics instead of encouraging all of the
positive movements, initiatives, and individual triumphs happening
across the country. The other factor that was clear from hearing all of
the stores was that in helping others, they had also helped themselves –
whether it’s given them the confidence they lacked previously, given
them a purpose, goal and drive, a distraction or direction away from an
alternative troublesome route, a chance to pursue a dream career or just
make some great new friends.
In the world I work it is all too easy to get engrossed in the
superficial. I am grateful for nights like this, that bring you back to
earth and remind you what is truly important.
The Winners were…..
Best new volunteer: Zoe Burden, from Lowestoft, has been
volunteering for Brighter Futures for the past year, taking children in
care on day-trips and giving them opportunities to socialize – a cause
very close to Zoe’s heart as she is currently living in supported
accommodation and has, herself, been in care for the last three years
All round commitment to volunteering: Danika Hamilton, from
Hulme, is a passionate and committed volunteer who credits volunteering
with changing the course of her own life.  Having experienced coping
with homelessness and depression, volunteering has given her focus and
determination to help others
Bringing communities together: Joanna Mayes, from Biggleswade,
volunteers for NACRO as a football coach.  She has overcome a very
traumatic time in her past and feels that volunteering has helped her
along her road to recovery
Team Activity: The Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers
programme team in North Tyneside takes on a large group of young people
drinking in a local park on Friday nights by setting up street football
Outstanding Contribution by a Youth Worker: Barry Clark, from
Hatfield, has been working at the Hatfield centre for more than 40
years, providing a variety of volunteering activities for young people
depending on their interests
Most Outstanding NCS Team: Harrow National Citizen’s Service
(NCS) team aims to promote a more cohesive, responsible and engaged
society by bringing young people from different backgrounds together to
make a difference in their communities.

The vInspired national awards celebrate young volunteers for the inspirational work they do, for more information please visit

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