Top award for Southend Young Carer

Published Monday, 20th July 2015

Indefatigable Young Carer, Charlie Byrne, 18, has won the prestigious title of Young Citizen of the Year from the Rotary Club of Southend-on-Sea

He was ceremonially presented with the award by the Rotary Club’s Assistant District Governor Peter McCafferty who praised him for doing so much to make a difference to other people’s lives, putting service above self.

Charlie, who is the first person since 2009 to receive this accolade, was nominated by Brenda Lewis, the Council’s Young Carers Youth Worker and Shirley Page, Manager of the Sixth Form at Cecil Jones College, Southend, where he has just finished his A levels.

As well as overcoming his own health problems, Charlie acts as a carer for his Mother. He has also chaired the Young Carers Forum and given key presentations to a wide range of professionals – such as health officials, Southend School Governors Association and other educational organisations.

Charlie has been a Young Carers Champion funded by the Children’s Society, and in 2012 received a coveted Diana Award for Courageous Citizens.

In addition, he was one of a group of Young Carers Champions who successfully lobbied a Government minister for an amendment to the Parliamentary Carers Bill 2014 to make sure the voices of Young Carers would be heard at the highest level.

Now he is involved in setting up a Young Adult Carers organisation for those aged 18 – 25, in conjunction with South Essex College, the University of Essex and Southend Carers Forum.

Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, Councillor Anne Jones said: “This is a wonderfully well-deserved award for Charlie, who is a real credit to his family, to Young Carers, and to Southend as a whole.

“His generosity of spirit means that at the same time as caring for his mother, he is doing all he can to support other Young Carers too.”

The Rotary Club of Southend-on-Sea invited people to nominate any young person, or group under 25 years who had made a positive contribution locally, nationally or internationally.

This aimed to showcase and celebrate positive citizenship and important responsibilities demonstrated by those under 25.

Past President of the Rotary Club of Southend-on-Sea, Catrina Lambert said: “For the Citizen of the Year award we were looking for someone who had made a difference to other peoples’ lives.

“As well as caring for his mother and overcoming his own health problems, and on top of his schoolwork, Charlie has still had the determination to do all he can for other Young Carers too. It’s that which really made him stand out from the other nominees.”

Delighted Charlie said: “It was truly breathtaking to be counted among previous award winners, and I hope to continue with the work that had me nominated, for the foreseeable future.”