“I had a bunch of emotions when I won. I was nervous, I was shocked, surprised and happy,” said Vitali Andronik, 16, with a smile.
Vitali was one of nine of Hammersmith & Fulham’s boldest and brightest young people who were celebrated by their friends, families and peers at this year’s Youth Achievement Awards.
The competition was fierce at the event on Friday (24 March) with a record 282 entries submitted. There were nine awards up for grabs for 11–25-year-olds who live, study or work in the borough. The entries were short-listed by H&F’s Youth Cabinet.
“It was so motivating to hear about all of the things that young people had been doing here in the borough,” added Anastasia Odusanwo, 17, H&F’s Member of Youth Parliament who presented some of the awards on the night.
“These are amazing young people, and it was so lovely to see them being recognised.”
Cllr Emma Apthorp, Mayor of H&F, added: “What incredible young talent we have in Hammersmith & Fulham. I hope this evening inspires us all to include and celebrate young people in civic life all year round.”
The award evening was host for free by 245 Hammersmith Road in their lobby which was decorated to the nines by H&F’s Youth Council, including a laser cut star to represent each nominee. To make the evening extra special guests were also treated to a photo booth, popcorn, candy floss, canapés and mocktails.
And the winners are…
Hammersmith Academy pupil Kiera Ghouneim, 18, won the Young Leader award (sponsored by the Chelsea Foundation). She was nominated for her volunteer work with the Police Cadets and with the NHS doing connect care for children. “I try and volunteer with the children whenever I can and attend regular cadet sessions. It was a really big surprise being nominated for this award, but it was also really nice,” explained Kiera who was a little overwhelmed, having been nominated and shortlisted for two awards on the night.
Camille Holder, 22, was named Young Volunteer for her work at the Sands End Arts & Community Centre, being an active member of the Youth Forum for The Royal Society of Blind Children and for taking part in a film by H&F Mencap. The award was sponsored by Artius Fire Protection. “I’ve worked at Sands End since October and do lots of bits and bobs behind the scenes there. It’s a pretty cool place to work. I’ve also just officially become a mentor for a girl named Sophie, which I love,” said Camille, explaining her nomination.
Cormack Mylchreest, 21, was nominated for overcoming difficulties caused by his cerebral palsy while fundraising for charities, including walking 500 miles in December 2022 to raise money for food banks. He won the Significant Contribution to Others award for his generosity, sponsored by Poppy Scott Plumber. “It was just a surprise, a complete surprise,” added Cormack, who hadn’t stopped smiling since winning his award.
Matilda Genieser, 16, won the Green Champion award, sponsored by GreenZone.“I got the Green Champion award for my work with Tidey which is an organisation I helped co-found,” she said enthusiastically. “We’re encouraging all the local rowing clubs to pick up more rubbish, run their own beach cleans and create a nicer environment for river users.”
Maisie Roche, 12, an autistic artist, won Young Artist of the Year. She often displays her work online but has recently had three stalls selling her art at events including the AIM Community Group and the London Anime and Gaming Con.
Albi Fenner, 15, won the Young Performer of the Year award, sponsored by the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Bush Theatre. A talented actor, dancer and singer, he was nominated more than 40 times for being an incredibly kind person who always embraces new opportunities. “Apparently a lot of my classmates nominated me, but it was a really big surprise when I found out I’d been shortlisted, I never expected it. Going up to collect my award gave me a complete adrenaline rush,” he said excitedly, shaking his head.
The energetic performer also treated everyone to a rendition of Your Song by Elton John which had some members of the audience in tears by the end.
Micaiah Haughton, who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, sponsored by KIER. Micaiah was nominated for overcoming a learning difficulty and working at his parents’ outdoor catering business. He runs the popular waffle stand.
Vitali Andronik joined Fulham Cross Academy last year after fleeing from the war in Ukraine and was named as the evening’s Overcoming Adversity winner, sponsored by the Television Centre. He has worked hard to improve his language skills. “Honestly winning this award was a surprise. My English teacher submitted my nomination and I’m grateful for that,” he said while holding his award. “English isn’t my first language, so the subject is a bit difficult, but I like writing and enjoy the lessons.”
Vitali had to leave his parents behind in Ukraine, but was supported on the night by his very proud older sister and four-year-old nephew.
Majutaba Mokhlis, 12, received the Achievement in Education award, sponsored by the Young Hammersmith and Fulham Foundation. Mujtaba was nominated for working hard at school, including learning to speak English and always having a smile on his face, since arriving from Afghanistan.
You can check out all of the snaps from 2023’s Youth Achievement Awards on our Flickr account.
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