YOUNG people whose efforts make the county proud were honoured at a glittering awards ceremony.

The 10th annual Pride of Somerset Youth Awards took place at Bridgwater and Taunton College’s Taunton campus on Friday, March 17.

The prestigious Sandy Padgett Award, named in honour of the police officer instrumental in setting up the POSYA who died suddenly in 2009 and presented by her husband, Ken, was won by Sophie Elston.

Sophie, 17, from Minehead, is a young carer for her older brother, who has complex learning needs, as well as supporting her mother, who is deaf and has ME.

She is also a prominent member of the Young Carers’ Forum as well as running a dance group for young people with learning difficulties.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Sophie Elston receives the Sandy Padgett Award from Ken Padgett

Editor Paul Jones, who sat on the panel of judges, said: “Sophie was an outstanding candidate in a list of outstanding nominees.

“These awards are such an important part of the calendar, recognising the efforts of young people which so often go unnoticed by many of us.

“Congratulations to Sophie and all of our winners - they were all exceptional and deserving of massive praise.”

The full list of winners was:

Presented by David Taylor from the Somerset Rural Youth Project:

  • Jamie Harris, 15, from Axbridge - for his efforts in becoming a world champion in sailing.
  • Ellie Payne, five, from Shepton Mallet - who, aged just five, has raised £32,000 for charity despite suffering from a rare heart condition. Ellie could not attend the awards as she has recently undergone surgery. 
  • Esme Deacon, six, from Wells - for her fundraising efforts, topping more than £5,000, despite being diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia last year.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Jamie Harris with David Taylor from the Somerset Rural Youth Project

Presented by Nicola Squibb from Prospect Services:

  • Naomi New, 10, Shepton Mallet - for her amazing efforts as a young carer.
  • Taunton School swimmers - who swam the channel and raised around £30,000 for charity.
  • Jenna Dabenett, 13, from Woolavington - who does an enormous amount of work for charity, as well as volunteering for community groups. 
  • Charlie Main, 18, from Stoke-sub-Hamdon - who has formed the new Hamdon Brass group, as well as helping out young people through school, while helping adults with computer problems and raising money for charity.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Swimmers from the Taunton School team with Nicola Squibb from Prospect Services

Presented by Chief Supt Ian Wylie from Avon and Somerset Police:

  • Archie Stannett, 14 - already a member of the martial arts hall of fame, kickboxer Archie is set for great things.
  • Ben Hodgson, 14, Yeovil - for his efforts raising money for charity throughout the year.
  • Annabel Brown, 17, South Petherton - for her efforts during the National Citizen Service and charity fundraising.
  • Somerset Youth Choir - who performed a number of dazzling songs during the evening.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Archie Stannett with Chf Supt Ian Wylie of Avon and Somerset Police

Presented by Nick Bull from BBC Somerset:

  • Victoria Roberts, 16, High Littleton - for her efforts fundraising for charity in memory of her best friend, Emma Welch, who died in 2015.
  • Joe Heath, Castle Cary - for exceptional academic achievement and his work in the community.
  • Oliver Howell, 17, Shepton Mallet - for his work as a carer for his parents, who are both deaf, as well as with the Young Carers Forum, including visiting Parliament to make the case for carers to MPs and other dignitaries.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Victoria Roberts with Nick Bull from BBC Somerset

Presented by Mercury editor Paul Jones:

  • Lucy Mae Bush, 14, Peasdown St John - for her efforts in para-equestrianism and helping others through the Riding for the Disabled scheme. 
  • Thea Priest, 16, Taunton - for her achievements with the English national karate team.
  • Abigail Welch, Frome - for her charity efforts and support work at Frome College.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Thea Priest receives her award from editor Paul Jones

Presented by Ian Ramus, president of the Rotary Club of Taunton:

  • Nathan Clarke, 18, Burnham-on-Sea - for his efforts promoting swimming in his community as a coach and ambassador. 
  • Benjamin Manning, 17, Frome - for his efforts as a young person's mentor after tragically losing his father in 2014.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Nathan Clarke with Ian Ramus, president of the Rotary Club of Taunton

Presented by Peter Renshaw from the Rotary Club of Taunton:

  • Sea Cadet Annabel Flook for her achievements with the group, who also piped the formal conclusion of the evening.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:
Annabel Flook with Brigadier Tom Lang

See more pictures in this week's County Gazette, Bridgwater Mercury, Chard and Ilminster News and Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News