We had a fantastic time at the Sporting Communities Derby Youth Awards on Friday evening – celebrating the incredible achievements of the city’s inspirational young people.

And we were absolutely delighted that one of our supported young people, Joshua Ryan, received a Special Commendation Award, in recognition of his inspirational attitude, progress and achievements.


Joshua was referred to the Children First Derby Mentoring Service in 2017, after experiencing several challenges that had negatively impacted his mental health, education and home life. It was evident, even at that early stage, that Josh was an articulate young person with the potential to become a leader, however he was also extremely withdrawn and anxious.

Josh became an active member of the Children First Derby Drama Group and during group work focussing on aspirations, talents and career choices, Josh mentioned that he wanted to become an Engineer. Children First Derby worked closely with Josh, to recognise his strengths and talents and support his ambitions, helping him overcome struggles and worries. Following a solutions-led plan of action, Josh went on to produce a music CD titled ‘Aiming High.’

Josh was invited to join the Children First Derby Youth Forum, a select group comprising past, present and those on the waiting list to join the Mentoring programme, representing all the young people from the charity’s Mentoring Service.

He has since been elected as Chair of the Youth Forum, helping to support other members of the group and actively shaping how the charity’s Mentoring Services are delivered.

On accepting the award, Josh eloquently spoke about his previous struggles and on-going challenges and how the charity has helped to support him. And he gave special thanks to Children First Derby Mentoring Coordinator, Kerreene Davidson, for her continued, unwavering support, for which he is extremely grateful for.


Josh’s heartfelt speech brought the crowd to their feet, and had some guests in tears, and the Children First Derby team felt immense pride in everything that Josh has faced and continues to overcome. We are thrilled that he received the much-deserved Special Commendation Award in recognition of his achievements and we’re looking forward to watching his future development.

The Children First Derby team would like to say a very special Thank You to Ben Rigby, Managing Director of Sporting Communities, and his team, for all their hard work and commitment and for putting on an incredible evening to celebrate the city’s young people.

Over the course of the evening it was incredibly humbling to learn about the young people’s stories – overcoming their own adversities to perform selfless acts of kindness and supporting others in the local community. And it was an absolute joy to be able to celebrate their achievements.

Children First Derby were proud to sponsor the Inspirational Young person Award and CEO, Irshad Baqui, was delighted to present the award to the winner, Keeley Howard, a Volunteer with specialist child exploitation charity Safe and Sound, and a vocal advocate for young people, particularly those who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation.


The night was a joyous celebration of Derby's amazing young people, held in the fantastic setting of Derby Museums, with everyone commenting how great it was to be all together, celebrating in person.


The Children First team were delighted to sit alongside Vijay Kumari, Funding Officer Midlands, The National Lottery Community Fund, and we enjoyed chatting to and catching up with our friends across the city who are working hard to support our young people.


And we would like to say a HUGE congratulations to all the amazing young people who were nominated for awards at the ceremony – you are an inspiration to us all.