Twenty four inspirational youngsters from across the UK were delighted to be announced as medallists for this year’s British Citizen Youth Award (BCyA) in recognition of their extraordinary contribution to society, charities and good causes.

Jake Mendelsohn, 15, from Newton Aycliffe was one of the children honoured for their incredible efforts at a formal presentation held at the Palace of Westminster on Thursday 19th October.

Now in its second year, the BCyA, in association with Specsavers, seeks to highlight the many acts of bravery, kindness and compassion carried out by young people across the UK.

Incredible stories

Inspired to take action following a friend’s serious illness, Jake Mendelsohn plunged into the chilly waters of Lake Windermere to do a one-mile charity swim – raising £500 in sponsorship for his brave effort during the Great North Swim.

Jake is a water polo player who had never swum in open water before but he resolved to take up the challenge when a family friend was diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged just 23, and who sadly died last year. The money Jake raised will go to the Brain Tumour Research Campaign.

A family friend nominated him for the BCYA Awards for his efforts for charity. The youngster, who attends the Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, is continuing a family tradition, as his grandad, Peter Beaty, now aged 85, received an MBE eight years ago for services to charity.

Jake’s mum Allison said: “He had never done any open water swimming so it was a bit of a challenge but on the day, he was just amazing. He was on his own, just 13 years old and went into the water and I didn’t see him again until he got out on the other side. For a 13-year-old that was just amazing and I’m extremely proud of him.’’


Jake received his BCyA medal from Ashley Banjo, creative director and lead dancer of Diversity, whose dance troupe won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent.

Ashley says: ‘I am honoured to be able to play a part of the British Citizen Youth Awards in October at the Palace of Westminster. What a fantastic way to recognise these young people that have made a difference to their communities up and down the UK. These inspirational young people are making a difference and encouraging other young people to do the same.’

Tim Mitchison, store director of Specsavers Newton Aycliffe, says: ‘As a partner of the BCyA, it is always uplifting to hear about the amazing and selfless acts performed by youngsters both within our community and across the UK.

‘Whether it be raising money for charity or helping those in need, we want to grow awareness of these achievements and inspire the next generation of children to make a similar positive impact on society.’