Awards for Courage 2023

The Awards for Courage 2023 was again held in the Cedric Ford Pavilion at Newark Show Ground. This annual event again proving to be a great success and enjoyed by all.

Pictured from L to R:   Ian Glenny, President of Newark Rotary Club, Martijn Benitez, Sue Parker, President of Newark Castle Rotary Club, Ethan Armstrong, Martyn Bye, Rotary District Governor, Alfie Jack Haynes, Councillor Susan Saddington, Lillie Afford, Gordon Marsh, Assistant President of Trent Group and Laurence Goff, Mayor of Newark.

The annual Awards for Courage event, organised and hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Newark and Newark Castle, was held on Monday 20th March 2023 at the Cedric Ford Pavilion, Newark Showground in order to recognised inspirational young people from across the district. The recipients of this years awards are:

  • Alfie Jack Haynes, of Newark Orchard School
  • Lillie Afford, of Tuxford Academy
  • Zofia Rogala, of Magnus Church of England Academy
  • Martijn Benitez, of Newark Academy
  • Ethan Armstrong, of Newark College

Unfortunately Zofia was unable to attend on the day however her art teacher Helen McGregor accepted the award and said a few words on her behalf.

Following and excellent meal and the presentation of the awards the President of Newark Castle Rotary Club, Sue Parker, offered some closing words for the inspiring ceremony.

"This event is the highlight of the rotary calendar. Rotarians look forward to coming here to hear the stories and meet such inspiring children. For the young people, I'm wishing you well for the next chapters of your lives."

She further went on to thank our sponsors, guests and dignitaries, including the Mayor of Newark, attending the event.

The Rotary Clubs of Newark and Newark Castle would also like to thank all of the sponsors for their generosity in supporting this worthy event and their attendance on the day. The event sponsors for 2023 were:

Alfie Jack Haynes of Newark Orchard School

Alfie Jack received the award for his brave and positive outlook during a difficult time.He was described as a happy young man with a wicked sense of humour and a keen pool shark with his own table at Caudwell House, where he lives. Alfie Jack was nominated by his teacher at Newark Orchard School, Gemma Saxelby. A year-and-a-half ago he was diagnosed with leukaemia and continues to have treatment ­— something which he takes in his stride and never complains about. Gemma said:

"He is always upbeat and positive, even in the most difficult times. He continues to make us proud every day with his resilience"

The speech before Alfie Jack was presented his award included messages from other teachers at Newark Orchard School, who fondly label him a 'cheeky chap' with many people at the school having 'fantastic memories of Alfie Jack'.

Alfie Jack said he felt happy to receive the award, and particularly enjoyed having his photo taken.

Lillie Afford of Tuxford Academy

A never-give-up attitude led Lillie Afford of Tuxford Academy to receive the award, nominated by teacher Carl Longmore. The nomination speech was given by Radio Newark's Tony Roberts in place of Carl. He said:

"Lillie has shown tremendous courage and inspiration throughout the challenges she has faced in recent times. Her never-give-up attitude is refreshing ­— despite the adversities and difficulties she has come up against, not once has Lillie considered giving up. Lillie should be be immensely proud of the contributions she has made, we certainly are."

Despite her leukaemia diagnosis and recovery, Lillie has maintained 'amazing' attendance at school and has a superb approach to learning.

Lillie's mum Sarah Afford said: "I'm really proud, it was a surprise for Lillie to have been nominated."

Ethan Armstrong of Newark College

Ethan Armstrong's hard work to perfect his trade, as well as his growth in confidence saw him nominated for the award. Penny Taylor of Newark College was Ethan's nominator, and highlighted the bricklaying student's dedication and hard work. She said:

"When Ethan first started at Newark College, he was a very quiet young man. Over the past 18 months his confidence has grown. He is now the most kind, wise, and responsible student we have this year."

It was joked that Ethan could be heard from the other side of the college. Ethan's hard work means he has secured a part-time job with a construction firm on the days he is not at college, is ready to take his driving test having passed his theory, and is always in attendance for his English lessons, despite it not being his favourite time of the week. Penny added:

"Ethan works really hard at the finer skills of the trade, we've been really proud of the self-development work he has done."

She believes that he will make a fine bricklayer after he leaves college.

Ethan said of receiving his award: "I feel great, happy, priveledged, all my tutors and peers around me helped me get to where I am."

Martijn Benitez of Newark Academy

It was smiles all round for Martijn who said he was extremely surprised to have been nominated for the award and cheerfully took to the stage to receive his certificate and trophy.

Martijn was nominated by Glenis Willis, with a speech delivered on her behalf by Sally Goodman.

Martijn joined the school in year seven, and alongside managing the big transition from primary to secondary school and his autism spectrum condition diagnosis, he was faced with his mum being seriously ill.

His mum died shortly after he started year eight, which he felt, and continues to feel, very keenly ­— and sometimes struggles to make sense of the world. Sally said:

"Martijn has had an awful lot to cope with. Through all that his attendance is about 100%, just about 0.3% off, and he is a third of a percent off 100% for effort. Life is tough sometimes for Martijn, but we are incredibly proud of him."

Martijn, now in year nine, has started to make friends at school, as well as continuing to put 100% into everything he does with an outstanding attitude.

After giving show-stopping smiles for the camera, Martijn said: "I was extremely surprised to be nominated. I never expected this, I didn't even know the award existed until a few weeks ago."

He added that it was nice to have been recognised.

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    Awards for Courage 2023 sub-pages:

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