On Saturday April 1st at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion the Annual Yorkshire Choice Awards took place. Charities from across Yorkshire were voted for, by the public in different categories. The Samantha Sykes Foundation Trust was nominated in two categories. The first category was The Fundraiser of the Year, the second category was The Kate Grainger Outstanding Achievements category, this category is “The Main Event”. Many of the nominees were household names, this included professional sportsmen and sportswomen, Olympians and TV & Radio celebrities. The list was intimidating and for the opening introduction it was announced there had been a total of a quarter million votes submitted across the categories. In our first category we were honoured to be short listed to a final four but when the envelope was opened, the announcer said “the winner is Eden Dora Trust, from Sheffield”. To be shortlisted was more than we expected or anticipated and we were honoured to receive recognition.
In the “Main Event” the announcement went like this… “for outstanding contribution the nominees are: The Brownlee Brothers from Leeds, between Alistair and Jonny they have 44 World, Olympic & Commonwealth gold medals, The second nominee is Hannah Cockcroft from Halifax, Hannah has 21 Para World, Olympic & Commonwealth gold medals, The third nominee is Jimmy Gittins from Wakefield, Jimmy is an ex professional rugby player, Jimmy suffered a life changing injury, breaking his neck playing for Dewsbury Rugby League Club. Despite being wheelchair bound Jimmy delivers inspirational speaking and his state of mind programme is one of the top programmes of its kind in the UK, The fourth nominee is Eric & Julie Sykes from Wakefield, this charity was formed in memory of their daughter & their daughters friend who were murdered in 2012, the charity is inspired by Sami Sykes & Kimberley Frank. The charity provide support for victims of Child Sexual Exploitation and support children who have been in the “Care System”.
We were so proud to be even mentioned in the same announcement as the other three nominees and that recognition alone would have been enough. BBCs Christa Ackroyd opened the envelope and announced “ The winner of The Kate Grainger Award For Outstanding Achievements 2017 is Julie & Eric Sykes from the Samantha Sykes Foundation”…. It took a few seconds to really sink in but when it did the emotions kicked in. Once on the stage and after the presentation Eric gave a short speech, Eric thanked everyone for their support and votes, but paid tribute to everyone in the room. As Eric highlighted “all the charities in the room were Yorkshire Charities and all do remarkable work in their own fields”. he continued “although there can be only be one winner tonight, in our own way every day, in what we do, we are all winners, we all look to help other people”. As Richard, Marie, Julie & Eric left the stage they received a standing ovation…. Once they had left the stage they headed straight to the bar for a well-earned celebratory drink.
As a charity all the Trustees and Members work hard, this award carries the name of Eric & Julie but it is for everyone. Richard & Marie Harrison were in attendance, at the awards, and experienced all the emotions. They along with all the Trustees and Members have made the award possible. However we can only be as good as our Supporters and Sponsors, anyone who has run a marathon, jumps out of a plane, baked a cake, sold or bought a raffle ticket or any other form of support made this possible. Without you, young people in Yorkshire would be missing out on life changing possibilities, be proud of that as much as we are proud of the Yorkshire Choices Award for Outstanding Achievement 2017