The winners at this year’s Blackpool Carers Centre Spring Ball have been revealed. JACQUI MORLEY reports on an emotional evening for all involved.
According to his mum, Blackpool’s young carer of the year is ‘13 going on 20’.
Former Blackpool specialist nurse Amanda Fryer, who’s battled illness for 15 years, paid tribute to her son and carer Joseph, 13, as he received the Young Carer Special Recognition Award at Blackpool Carers Centre’s Spring Ball at the Village Hotel.
“I am so proud of this boy,” Amanda said. “He’s missed out on such a lot. I’ve felt guilty, but I don’t feel guilty tonight – I feel proud. He’s my superstar.”
Tears were in freefall as 330 guests at the charity’s annual fund-raising ball watched a moving video of young carer Joe revealing how hard it was to carry so much responsibility – and how much Blackpool Carers meant to him.
As guests leapt to their feet to applaud the young carer Joseph fought back tears to accept the award.
He was hailed ‘one in a million’ by compere Hayley Kay.
“Your mum’s proud, the whole room’s proud,” she told him. “These people who have clapped – and continue to stand there – think you’re amazing.
‘Being a young carer is a tough gig. No one chooses to be a young carer, it’s a role you take on.”
Joseph said: “I’m just completely overwhelmed. I really do want to thank the carers (centre) because they have been there (for me) for two years.
“They have been so helpful, and they won’t stop helping me and that’s all I could ask for. Thank you.”
Joseph provides emotional and physical care for his mum, supporting her through the pain and despair of long term medical conditions and getting her urgent care when her health has deteriorated.
In a Gazette special on Young Carers Awareness Day in January, Joseph confided: “I couldn’t sleep, I had nightmares, I was anxious – I thought mum was going to die.”
Amanda’s now on the mend – and looking forward to getting married to partner Andrew Pratt in October – but a recent relapse saw her back in hospital for 10 days, her son again at her side.
Amanda formerly helped the charity as part of a nursing team so knew who to ask for help for her son.
“I knew he was struggling,” she said.
For the past two years Joseph has been helped by a charity as old as he is – 13. The £15,300 raised by the ball will go towards the £300,000 appeal for a respite lodge for young carers and allied facilities for others.
The charity supports 6,000 families and carers aged from five to 105.
Support extends to the cared-for too. Headteacher Rosie Sycamore and three students Archie, Leah and Victoria also won a standing ovation when Highfurlong School was named the charity’s educational establishment of the year for its partnership with the centre’s work experience placements for young people with additional needs.
The school helped the charity celebrate Young Carers Awareness Day and also holds monthly meetings at Beaverbrooks House, which will also host its Leavers’ Prom in July.
Celebrating those who go the extra mile
Other winners on the night were:
- Social Care Special Recognition Award – Nichola Sullivan, Community Mental Health Team for Older Adults for working tirelessly with carers and loved ones living with dementia or mental health conditions and making a real difference to so many to so many facing challenging situations.
- Health Special Recognition Award – Kathy Bradshaw and the Primary Intermediate Mental Health Team for continued dedication and commitment to carers and families, working with Blackpool Carers Centre in a compassionate, proactive, positive and approachable manner.
- The Community Partnership Award – Spire Fylde Coast Hospital and director Barbara Cummings for raising awareness of carers within the hospital, monthly talks by consultants to carers free of charge and pro bono professional support.
- The Special Achievement Award – Sandcastle Waterpark for always being there for carers, providing a daily pass for young carers and their families, supporting fund-raising and being one of the most competitive teams in the annual Cash Quest for Carers, having raised £50,479.28.