All smiles as Samuel wins Young Citizen award
An inspirational teenager who fights for the rights of care leavers in the city has been named the Wolverhampton Young Citizen of the Year.
Samuel Iyawe, aged 14, from Bilston, beat off competition from six other finalists to win the award, which is run by the city's Rotary clubs and recognises the achievements of youngsters that go the extra mile to help others.
Having arrived in the UK from Nigeria as a youngster, Samuel overcame a number of challenges to become the vice-chair of the city's Children in Care Council and a representative on the Youth Council.
A child in care himself, he helps to train social workers, leads staff interviews on the Children's Panel, and takes an active role in advising on issues affecting young people in the city, including knife crime.
Samuel, who attends Moreton School, said: "It feels overwhelming and exhilarating to have won this award.
"It was fantastic to be here in front of so many people who have come to see us nominees. It was very unexpected for me. The other nominees have all done so many incredible things for the city and their schools.
"Everyone had an equal chance of winning. I want to thank everyone who has supported me in my very long journey and I hope to continue to work to improve the lives of children in Wolverhampton."
Samuel was presented with the award along with a £100 prize at a ceremony in the Mayor's Parlour in the city's Civic Centre, where his nominator, Alice Vickers, received a cheque for £500 for her chosen good cause.
Ms Vickers, a Corporate Parenting Officer for the council, said: "I knew he could win. He is so passionate about young people, and making a difference to the way that professionals work with young people.
"He shares his experience in a way that is really truthful and informative. I'm incredibly proud of him. My team have worked with Samuel for three years and he is always inspiring us to make sure young people get the very best opportunities."
The two runners up were Jude Aston and Melvin Riley. All finalists were presented with certificates by comic Gill Jordan, who plays Doreen Tipton, with winners certificates presented by city Mayor Claire Darke.
Now in its sixth year, the award is dedicated to former Wolverhampton Rotarian Tom Warren, who was the city's director of education for 25 years.
It is backed by the Express & Star, Wolverhampton Council, Waitrose, Wolverhampton Wanderers Trust, The Way Youth Zone, Wolverhampton West Magazine, Bilston Magazine and Wednesfield Magazine.
Tettenhall Rotarian Roger Timbrell, chairman of the organising committee, said: "All of us were incredibly impressed with the work that the seven finalists have done.
"The common theme this year was that all of them had overcome adversity to get to where they are. They are all a credit to the city and we wish them well for the future."
The event was attended by a crowd of 80, including councillors, youth workers, families and Rotarians. Former winners Amy Nicholls, Millie Betteridge and Taranveer Khangura were also present.
This year's finalists were:
- Jude Aston, Highfields School, aged 14. Jude suffers from cerebral palsy but has refused to let the condition hold him back. A YouTube volgger and mainstay of the school's TV channel, he gives speeches encouraging others to overcome barriers.
- Neve Francis, Moseley Park School, aged 14. An ambassador and a role model for other pupils at her school, Neve recovered from cancer as a baby and devotes her time to fundraising and helping others.
- Samuel Iyawe, Moreton School, aged 14. The vice chair of the city's Children in Care Council, Nigeria-born Samuel is a voice for young people in the city, and has worked hard to improve the lives of youngsters in the care system.
- Katia Medjdoub, Our Lady and St Chad Catholic Academy, aged 17. A young leader at her school, Algeria-born Katia is part of the National Citizen Service programme, and has given up her time to raise awarenesses – and funds – for youth homelessness.
- Clinton Omoruyi, Heath Park School, aged 15. Clinton came to Wolverhampton via Nigeria and Spain. He is a Spanish Young Interpreter for families and friends associated with the school, and plays an active role in helping new students settle into school life.
- Melvin Riley, St Peter's School, aged 17. Melvin is involved in the HeadStart B-Safe programme, where he is a passionate advocate for young people on safeguarding issues. Has raised awareness of issues including child neglect, CSE, bullying and knife crime.
- Eve Williams, home schooled, aged 14. An inspirational member of The Way Youth Zone where she helps out with young children, Eve also volunteers at community hubs around the city, as well as teaching youngsters to swim.