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1st Jul, 2022

Pride of Stratford Awards: Young Achievers

THE Pride of Stratford Awards will once again be celebrating the people who make a difference.

The Touch FM awards take place at the Crowne Plaza in Stratford on February 3.

The Observer shines a spotlight on some of this year’s nominees, starting with those in the running for the The Young Achiever – which highlights the efforts of youngsters under 21 who have contributed significantly to life in the district and who have shown commitment to their community.

JACK SUMNERS is making strides in the world of athletics and 2016 saw him drafted into the Midlands long jump team.

The 16 year-old started his season on the right foot when he was crowned Warwickshire’s hurdle champion for the fourth year in a row, breaking the county record which was previously held by Andy Pozzi.

Jack now holds the Warwickshire under-13, under-15 and under-17 records for sprint hurdles. He also secured the under-17 long jump title at the championships.

He represented Warwickshire at the England School Championships in Gateshead but unfortunately was not able to compete in the final – he suffered a hamstring injury in the heat where he broke his PB.

At the Midland Championships Jack won gold in the long jump and silver in the hurdles. At the England championships he came fourth in hurdles and eighth in long jump.

The Stratford School pupil ended the season fourth in the UK for 100m hurdles in the under-17 category and with the 26th best time in the UK.

And if school, training and competing was not enough for the teenager, he has spent what little spare time he does have in school holidays coaching youngsters at Stratford Athletics Club.

Jack has his sights set on the Olympics but is also keen to do well in his GCSEs and A Levels in the coming years before heading to university to study sport.

His mum Lynne told The Observer: “Jack has had a good couple of years in the hurdles really but suddenly in 2016 he did really well in the long jump too.

“He’s been picked for the Midland’s long jump team which is amazing.

“He’s very dedicated, trains four times a week as well as competing and he has his GCSEs to think about too.

“It all keeps him busy as well as us – we’re at four competitions in January and February with him. I’ve even become a qualified time keeper for the club.

“They all give up so much time for my son, I wanted to be able to help them out in return.”

MAX WILLSON is on the Aspergers Spectrum, has severe Dyslexia and when he was nine years-old his parents were told by educational professionals he would never pass an exam.

But this year the 18 year-old achieved an A* in his Art and Photography A level.

He now has a Civil Aviation Authority drone camera pilot’s licence, his own website – www.maxfilms.co.uk – and has already made films for Bentley, Hertz and Visit Florida.

Max discovered his love for photography on Stratford’s Rowley Fields – he grew up walking and photographing the fields but when a recent contentious planning application for 85 houses was put forward Max decided to use photography and film to prove to everybody how important the fields were.

He is now hoping to go to university to study film production.

And Max made headlines in July 2015 when he was awarded the Guy Evans Young Hero of the Year Award at St John Ambulance’s annual awards in London.

His younger sister Mini severed an artery and two tendons on a pane of glass while on holiday in France. Had it not been for quick thinking Max, she would have bled out in eight minutes.

Not only did Max give first aid treatment to his sister, but he also managed to contact the emergency services – using Google to find the number – found out his location using a bottle of wine from the vineyard opposite and left a red towel on the gate outside for the ambulance to look out for.

Mum Michaela nominated him.

She told The Observer: “I’m just so proud of what he has achieved. He was written off at nine years-old but with the right support and help he’s proved he shouldn’t be written off.

“He found his passion and something he’s good at – he think in pictures.

“Max was very shocked but proud to find out he was a Pride of Stratford finalist and I want to prove how proud his family are of him.”

Up and coming Tae Kwon-Do champ KATIE CUMMINGS is set to have a busy 2017.

Katie competed at the world championships at the Barclaycard Arena Birmingham in July 2016 in sparring in the 15 to 17 year-old division when she was aged 14.

She fought opponents from England, Poland and USA and won all of her bouts using her excellent kicking techniques.

Katie won her final fight against an English opponent to take her first World title in her first World Championships.

The Southam College pupil is a member of Southam Tae Kwon-Do and trains three times a week as well as competing in other sports and dance.

She worked hard and listened to her coaches to reach the standard to compete in the world championships and is now working towards her black belt grading later this year.

Now 15 years-old, she has started teaching within the club now passing on her techniques and knowledge to younger students.

Her mum Sarah, who she started the hobby with four years ago, said: “Katie is very excited to be a finalist – we didn’t even know she had been nominated until we found out she had been named as a finalist!

“It was quite nerve wracking watching her compete at the world championships.

“She was entered into the older ‘cadets’ category by her instructors because they felt she would do well in it, and she did.”

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