Community champion Grace, 15, reaches YMCA grand final

A Jarrow youngster has made the final stage of a major awards scheme which recognises the achievements of young people from across the country.

Grace McNulty, 15, is one of only three finalists at the YMCA’s Youth Matters Awards 2021 in the Young Leader of the Year category.

The winner will be announced at a swish ceremony at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in London’s Park Lane on November 5, hosted by the comedian and star of ITV’s The Chase, Paul Sinha.

The other nominees are from Norfolk and Swansea. All three made the final after a online public vote, with the Gazette supporting Grace.

Grace McNulty is a nominee at the YMCA awards. The winner will be announced in London on November 5.

Grace is a pupil at Hebburn Comprehensive School and has been with the YMCA since she was nine. She is passionate about her community and does all she can to make it better.

She does more than her bit for the environment, volunteering in clean ups and litter picks around Jarrow and helping look after a community garden.

Once or twice a week she tends to graves and helps keep Jarrow Cemetery looking pristine. She helps with coffee mornings and other fundraising events for local youth charities as well as Macmillan Cancer Support.

In April she was presented with an award as part of NE Youth’s International Women’s Day Awards, winning the Inspiring Young Female Award.

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Grace is the youngest of four children and lives with her mam Jane Cowell, who says her daughter “has a heart of gold.”

The YMCA said: “Grace has had a challenging background and home life and over the years has struggled with family illness and bereavement. But in the face of all of this, she has shown amazing strength and resilience.

“Grace has so much empathy for others, especially those who seem to be most in need of support. She sees inequality and feels that she must act to help. She also actively fundraises for a local charity, St Vincent de Paul Jarrow, by coordinating walks, fayres and coffee mornings.”

Grace said: “I’m so happy to be in the final. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens now. It would be nice to win, but I’m just happy to have the opportunity.

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“I’m really excited to be going. I’m very grateful, but excited too.”

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