THE ANNUAL CELEBRATION of Sunderland’s most inspiring, aspirational, motivated and creative young people has begun.

One of the world’s most inspirational young persons, Paralympian Gold medalist Matt Wylie, helped to  launch nominations for the 2017 Young Achievers’ Awards.

Matt from Washington was last year’s winner in the 14-20 years category and overall winner of the Andy Neal award named in honour of the founder of Young Achievers’ Awards.

Matt joined Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing at Washington Leisure Centre to launch this year’s awards.

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing said: “I am honoured to help launch nominations for Young Achievers 2017, and invite people to put forward the names of young people they’d like to receive recognition for their massive, individual contribution to life in our city.

“I’m delighted we’re being joined by Matt, who has overcome such physical. personal challenges to achieve so much in his studies and chosen sport. We can all be proud of Matt, and of all the young people in our city to which these awards are dedicated.”

Cllr Farthing added:  “I think it is more important than ever that we recognise the talent and commitment that exists within our young people, and I believe that these awards are a great incentive for all our young people to strive to be the best that they can be in whatever they do.”

Paralympic Gold Medalist in Rio, Matt, who is a member of the City of Sunderland Swim Club, added: “I was extremely proud to receive the Andy Neal award last year, and of all the recognition I’ve received through the Sunderland Young Achievers’ Awards.

“It’s great for all young people to know that our efforts are being appreciated, and being nominated is an honour in itself.”

The Young Achievers’ Awards are organised by Sunderland City Council with the support and sponsorship of the local business and community sector.

This year’s sponsors include Gentoo, University of Sunderland Students Union, Sunderland Governors Association, Nissan, Sunderland Carers Centre, Sun-FM andSAFC Foundation of Light.

The awards are open to anyone living in Sunderland aged between eight and 20 years old, and celebrate the achievements, bravery, talent and positive contribution they have made to the lives of their families, communities and city.

The categories are Music and the Performing Arts, Personal Achievement, Academic Achievement, Young Carer, Young Volunteer, Sport, School Council, and Anti-Bullying, Young Apprentice and Service to the Community.

All winners and runners-up will then be invited to attend the awards presentation and annual celebratory event being staged at the Stadium of Light on Thursday 23March 2017 which will be compered by Sun FM’s Simon & Danni from the breakfast show.

Nominations can be made online on http://www.sun-fm.com/ya17.php or by contacting Jane Wheeler Participation and Engagement Leadjane.wheeler@sunderland.gov.uk or 561 7430.

Sun FM Breakfast presenter and Programme Director, Simon Grundy said: “Last year we managed to increase the number of entries so that more young people were recognised for their achievements and we are proud to be involved again.

“Myself and Danni are looking forward to hosting the event in March, so please make sure you enter!”

# SUN FM is the most listened to radio station broadcasting to Sunderland, attracting more listeners than Radio 2 and other larger stations out of the area.” (Source:  RAJAR/RSL Q2, 2016))