A 14-year-old from Rufford has been named as the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year 2021.
James Curl topped a list of more than 50 young and inspiring people from across the county who have made a real difference in their communities in the last 12 months.
The announcement was made during a special virtual award ceremony, attended remotely by more than 150 people earlier his week. Hosted by BBC Radio Lancashire’s Andy Mitchell, the awards were presented via Teams by the High Sheriff of Lancashire and Lancashire Constabulary’s Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods.
James, who has autism, was praised by judges for a string of selfless acts over the past year including saving his mum from drowning in the bath when she suffered a seizure. After finding her submerged he called on the skills learned in his life saving swimming badge and lifted his mum’s head above water, as he called for help.
During lockdown, which James found particularly difficult, he also dedicated his time to raising money and collecting donations for a number of causes including a Christmas gift appeal and a homeless charity. He also used his pocket money to buy a blanket and food for a homeless person, who he saw regularly. And his final act of kindness saw him save up to buy a longed-for teddy bear as a Christmas present for his friend, who has a rare form of cancer.
A panel of judges including The High Sheriff of Lancashire, Catherine Penny, Former High Sheriff, Rodney Swarbrick and Russell Millhouse, Head of External & Public Affairs at the University of Central Lancashire also selected a second and third place.
Runner up Alfie Wilson, aged seven, from Freckleton was congratulated for his kindness in the community during the Coronavirus pandemic, after going through the sad death of his dad and helping his mum recover from brain surgery.
Alfie grew his own fruit and vegetables to deliver to the elderly and handed them out on a stall in his garden, alongside his own free library. The youngster also held a takeaway Macmillan coffee and cake morning which raised £80 for charity.
In third place was Freddie Fearnhead, 10, from Whalley who has currently raised over £160,000 by running 100km in December in aid of Manchester University Hospitals after his friend was diagnosed with Leukaemia.
Lancashire Constabulary’s Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods who attended the virtual awards event, said: “I would like to congratulate this year’s deserving winner James and the very worthy runners up Alfie and Freddie. They have made outstanding contributions to their communities and their hard work and determination to their causes is an inspiration.
“It is an honour to be involved in the Young Citizen of the Year Awards and every year we are impressed with the standard of the entries and this year is no different. We have a lot of inspirational young people in our county and it is a pleasure to recognise them in this way.”
Russell Millhouse, from UCLan said: “The University of Central Lancashire is a proud supporter of the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen Awards, and we were delighted to be involved in the judging process again for 2021. In what has been a difficult and unusual year for so many reasons, it has been incredible to learn of the achievements and goodwill of so many young Lancastrians. Congratulations to James, Alfie and Freddie, and to everybody who was nominated.”
Catherine Penny, High Sheriff of Lancashire said: “It has been a privilege to be able to recognise young citizens of Lancashire and my thanks go to those who have been involved: The Lancashire Partnership against Crime (LANPAC) for all the work they do organising the event, the Constabulary for the interest they take, and very importantly our sponsors UCLan who have also put on the virtual award ceremony this year.
“I am humbled by the many examples of selflessness from these young people. It was a very difficult job to select winners from so many excellent nominations. Very many congratulations to all those nominated and particularly to our award winners for their exceptional deeds and the qualities they showed.”