Why inspirational teen Xena tops the Willington Youth Award winners


A caring and resilient teenager was recognized for the volunteer work she does in her hometown.

Xena Taylor, of Willington, County Durham, has been described as an “inspiration” and “someone who sees the best around her” despite the adversity in her own life.

The 14-year-old earned a young leadership qualification through Durham Sports last year and spent much of her free time helping at Willington Open Door Methodist Church – all while her father was gravely ill .

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Sue Hine, who heads the church, said: “Xena has faced difficult personal issues and has impressed her family, friends and others who have supported her through the challenges she has faced with. his quiet determination.

“Xena has been helping as a volunteer at Willington Open Door Methodist Church for some time and is sensitive and very supportive of others.

“She has proven to be a hard worker who undertakes any task that is asked of her with a smile.

“Xena, you are an inspiration to others to see the best of everything around you. We wish you good luck for the future and thank you for all you do for our community.

Xena Taylor won the Young Director of the Year award

In recognition of her public spirit, Xena won the Young Achiever of the Year trophy and £ 100 in the annual awards run by Charity Shop 4U.

The volunteer-run shop sells second-hand clothing, music, books and housewares, but is best known for its annual grants and awards initiative for outstanding local youth.

The shop has distributed over £ 17,000 since it started giving out awards in 2018 and in 2021 almost £ 6,000 has been awarded to 16 people, schools and volunteer groups in Hunwick, Page Bank, Oakenshaw, Willington and Sunnybrow.

Finalist Bede Donkin

Finalist Bede Donkin

The 2021 finalist for the Young Achiever Prize, with a prize of £ 50, was Bede Donkin, seven, a student at Our Lady and St Thomas Catholic Primary School, who underwent two years of treatment to beat leukemia.

She ran the Great North Children’s Run, raising £ 1,064 for the Brave Little Hearts charity and funds for her school and running track.

Other young performers whose efforts have won awards of £ 25 each include Amy Bone, former winner and member of Team Warrior TKD Willington.

Last year, the 17-year-old retained his place in Britain’s taekwondo team and was selected for the European Championships.

Joseph Davis, 15, of Hunwick plays at Willington Cricket Club and reached senior level after representing the club at all levels since the age of six. He hit 131 of 88 balls for the first team against Felling CC this year. He is a member of the Durham County Under 15s and was selected for The North of England to perform at the ECB Bunbury Festival.

Nine-year-old William Maddox McGurk created a Facebook page called Hunwick Rocks that encouraged people to paint rocks and hide them around the village to help boost the morale of others and feel a connection during the lockdown.

They were the following:

• 4th Willington Scout Group – for the group to camp at the Moorhouse Adventure Center and hire a minibus

• Hunwick Cricket Club – fee for three volunteers to be trained for coaching qualifications

• Hunwick community social and environmental group – planting sessions to provide healthy snacks

• Little Stars Early Years – Toothbrushes, paste and information kits for all new beginners and to give all children a book as a birthday and Christmas present

• Louise Claire Strike, 17 years old – help with continuing education costs and travel to obtain university places

• Oakenshaw Community Foundation – Supervised outdoor sports sessions for young people

• Oscar Lee, 13 – Protective glasses so he can continue to play as a football goalkeeper

• A 12 year old boy received help with study materials

• Our Lady and St Thomas School – outdoor gym, furniture and play equipment

• St Stephen’s CE Elementary School – Raincoats and Wellingtons for early childhood children to use on forest walks

• Sunnybrow Primary School – to redevelop the outdoor space.

• Team Warrior TKD Willington – Body armor, mat and electronic scoring equipment

• Willington Cricket Club – Cost of training during the winter months, training new coaches, new equipment and rental of a recreation center.

• Willington Open Door Methodist Church – Small picnic table for outdoor activities and arts event with a local artist for young people

• Willington Youth Under 9s Blues Football Team – Training clothing, game and practice fees

President of the Trustees Rosalind Glasper said the standard and number of registrations is increasing every year.

She said: “It’s great to be able to reward young people and their groups, schools and clubs for their incredible efforts and achievements.”

Ms. Glasper also thanked their customers for making a difference and praised the efforts of the boutique’s volunteers who manage to keep it open six days a week.

“We are very grateful to our growing number of customers because all of this money we give comes from their purchases.

“Our amazing volunteers should be so, so proud of their tireless work. Many are seniors, but all of them bring incredible energy and commitment.

“Thanks to everyone who helps,” she said.

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