Exeter calls on community to vote for its ‘Young Achiever’ ahead of prestigious national youth awards ceremony
3rd August 2015
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The local youth charity, which has operated in Exeter for the past 140 years has nominated YMCA young person, Heather Courtney as Young Achiever of the Year in Youth Matters Awards 2015.


Youth Matters is the YMCA federation’s national awards programme that has been an integral part of the charity’s calendar since 2009.


Heather is up against four other young people from across YMCAs within her award category. Other award categories are YMCA of the Year, Young Leader of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year and Young Worker of the Year.


Heather has been entered for the award because of her determination to overcome personal struggles. Heather came to YMCA Exeter in 2012 with OCD, high functioning autism and epilepsy. She struggled in her relationship with residents and staff, often becoming insular, non-compliant and on occasion violent and self-harming – almost being evicted on numerous occasions.

However Heather’s story is now quite different. She lives independently, volunteers with YMCA’s housing team on a weekly basis and is soon to begin the charities yearlong Internship Programme.


Voting starts online on Monday 3 August and runs until midnight on Friday 14 August. Votes cast by the public will be combined with judges’ choices and the top three nominees will be announced on 4 September. Overall winners will be given their awards at the prestigious ceremony at the Portchester Hall, in Bayswater, central London, on Thursday 22 October.


Heather said: “I am really excited to be nominated for such a significant award and to have reached this stage of the process.


“My life has changed so much since getting involved with YMCA and I hope everyone will support me and vote. To make it through to the final judging panel would be incredible.”


Fundraiser Bethan Spencer describes how Heather is a real asset to both staff and residents within the YMCA Exeter community:


“Looking at the timeline of Heather’s story is phenomenal, in just three years Heather is a different person. She has been extremely proactive in turning her life around and it is a real joy to see her commitment to creating opportunities for others to succeed in a way similar to her. Everyone at YMCA Exeter is extremely proud of her.”


Youth Matters celebrates the outstanding skills and achievements of young people from across the country. It also recognises the vital work that YMCAs deliver every day to help transform the lives of young people and give them a brighter future.


The Young Achiever of the Year Award recognises the exceptional achievements of a young person who has overcome significant obstacles to make a real difference to their lives and their community.


Vote for Young Achiever of the Year at www.ymca.org.uk/awards.


For more information on Youth Matters, visit www.ymca.org.uk/awards. For more information on YMCA Exeter, visit www.ymcaexeter.org.uk


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