• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Building Foundations Awards celebrates Newcastle United Foundation’s extraordinary community

The inspirational achievements of North East community members connected by Newcastle United have been celebrated at Newcastle United Foundation’s Building Foundations Awards ceremony.

The exclusive event returned to St. James’ Park on Tuesday night, recognising the remarkable children, young people, families and older generations who have created positive change for themselves and the region during an exceptional recent chapter for the Foundation.

Among 400 guests at the black-tie gala were Newcastle United co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, the club’s CEO Darren Eales and Sporting Director Dan Ashworth, alongside the Magpies’ first team, Newcastle United Women’s team, former players, and Foundation supporters and participants.

Hosted by Sky Sports News’ Pete Graves and Bela Shah, the 13th annual dinner shared the stories of inspirational individuals supported by the charity to achieve their goals in life – fully inclusive of all people and all backgrounds who are among the thousands enjoying the Foundation’s new home, NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society, which opened in March.

The prize-giving portion of the night saw award winners and their families meeting with first team players, including Newcastle United’s Elliot Anderson, Sven Botman, Dan Burn, Joe Willock, and Sean Longstaff, who is a longstanding ambassador for the official charity arm of the club.

Two true United greats were also inducted into the Newcastle United Hall of Fame, with John Beresford MBE and Terry McDermott celebrated for their outstanding contributions to their club during their time in black and white.

Steve Beharall, Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “It has been an extraordinary few months for Newcastle United Foundation and the Building Foundations Awards are our opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of community members supported and engaged by our teams across the North East.

“Our dedicated staff are honoured to have played their part in encouraging and inspiring the teenagers, young adults, families and older generations who are truly deserving of these awards – it is lifechanging and sometimes lifesaving work we are privileged to deliver.

“The Building Foundations Awards also mark a significant period in the Foundation’s legacy and follows on from the official opening of NUCASTLE – our community hub for learning, recreation, socialising and play.

“Since opening in spring, we have already welcomed thousands of people to our site, just five minutes’ walk from St. James’ Park and we look forward to seeing more community members using the centre for generations to come.

“NUCASTLE and the Foundation’s work is only ever made possible thanks to the invaluable support of Newcastle United Football Club and the Premier League and the generous funders, partners and supporters who we are proud to share our awards ceremony with.”

The first award of the evening was presented to Lee Dawson, a teenager who endured a turbulent childhood in Newcastle that saw him turn to the wrong crowds for support. Lee was at rock bottom and in foster care when he found the Foundation’s Early Intervention Premier League Kicks Targeted and YOLO programmes supported by Northumbria Police’s Violence Reduction Unit. Staff encouraged him to believe he had something to live for and through years of support, he has turned his life around – this month becoming an apprentice with the Foundation to support other young people just like him.

Liutauras ‘Lily’ Balciunas earned the Young Leader Award, acknowledging his progress from an insecure teenager who struggled to control his emotions to a confident role model for other young people. Lily was removed from Premier League Kicks sessions in Newcastle more than once, but with guidance from Foundation staff, he grew in self-belief, made new friends and went on to volunteer to lead sessions – boosting his employment prospects. Lily now coaches with the Foundation at the sessions where he once played.

Harry Brown was named Disability Player of the Year – a football fanatic for life, he began playing the sport he loves from age 10 at the Foundation’s Down’s syndrome football club. The pandemic hit Harry hard with him no longer able to enjoy a kickabout with friends. Harry was absent from sessions when covid restrictions lifted, but coaches encouraged him to visit the Foundation’s new home – NUCASTLE, where he fell in love with football again. Harry aspires to coach and was recently captain for the Foundation’s Down’s syndrome team in Spain.

Bunny’s journey saw them earn the Adult Learner Award. Diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and identifying as a queer person of colour with disabilities came with its struggles. Dropping out of university, Bunny qualified for support from the Prince’s Trust TEAM programme and used sessions to increase their confidence and passion to pursue filmmaking. Bunny is now a runner for a TV and film production company – fulfilling their dream to enter the industry.

Elaine Wilson collected the Alder Sweeney Award – an accolade presented in honour of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two Magpies supporters who tragically lost their lives in the MH17 disaster. Crediting the Foundation’s walking football sessions with giving her a reason to leave the house to do something she loves, Elaine is a true ambassador for the sport, encouraging more women to try walking football.

To culminate the special evening, Malva Jammo collected the inaugural Building Foundations Award. Malva fled her home in Syria during unrest in 2011, eventually arriving as asylum seekers in Walker, Newcastle, to make a new home away from home. She started primary school without speaking or understanding English, but soon reignited her passion for learning with support from Newcastle United Foundation at Premier League Kicks sessions. Now a teenager, she enrolled on the charity’s National Citizen Service programme, taking on new challenges with a whole host of new friends in her new home.

The charity’s Building Foundations Awards 2022 are principally sponsored by Newcastle Building Society, with Food Sponsor Bidfood, Drinks Sponsor Carling, Legends Sponsor Robertson, Entertainment Sponsor Liontrust, and dedicated award sponsors that created an exceptional evening for all.

Newcastle United Foundation Building Foundations 2022 winners:

  • Lee Dawson – Helen McArdle Young Achiever Award
  • Liutauras ‘Lily’ Balciunas – Young Leader Award, sponsored by First Class Supply
  • Harry Brown – Disability Player of the Year Award, sponsored by Suzanne Clarke Life & Business Coach
  • Bunny – Adult Learner Award, sponsored by Consultive Solutions
  • Elaine Wilson – Alder Sweeney Award, sponsored by Cool Designs Limited
  • Malva Jammo – Building Foundations Award, sponsored by Newcastle Building Society

For more information about the Foundation and programmes near you, follow Newcastle United Foundation on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter for regular news and updates.

By admin