Teenage heroes will meet Nick Grimshaw and musical superstars at BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards after Sudbury fundraising
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 October 2016
Two boys with “hearts of gold” will be handed a BBC Radio 1 teen hero award for their charity work in Sudbury on Sunday, following the death of their close friend when he was just 13.
Joe Snell, 17, and Toby Halls, 15, began busking outside the town’s Cancer Research UK shop in Sudbury in March 2014 after being asked help out by their friend Arran Tosh.
Tragically, Arran died three months later shortly after a brain tumour was spotted by his optician and Toby and Joe have carried on fundraising in his memory.
“They are brave, humble and not afraid to embarrass themselves compared to other boys their age,” said CRUK Sudbury volunteer Ivy Pound, who nominated the pair.
She remembers when the trio first came into the shop and she gave them a collecting bucket, and then her astonishment when they walked back in an hour later with nearly £90 for the charity.
Arran’s mum Alison Tosh said her son wanted to fundraise for CRUK after his aunt Kerry was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although thrilled and proud of Joe and Toby, Alison said she was sad her son was not collecting the award with them.
“Certainly for myself there was a mixture of emotions because I was so happy for the boys but remembering Arran started it, it was quite emotional that he wasn’t here to get the award. It was double emotions but at the end of the day Arran, as we are, would be so proud that Joe and Toby have kept on with fundraising.
“At the time they were 13 so there’s not a lot of teenagers that would keep going on fundraising and volunteering in the shops. We’re so proud of them and along with a lot of people they’re keeping Arran’s memory alive and helping the charity. I know it’s hard for them.”
Arran’s aunt Kerry survived her diagnosis and Alison said her sister was Arran’s inspiration.
She listened to an interview Toby and Joe gave on BBC Radio 1 earlier this week.
“They’re always mentioning Arran,” she said. “On the Radio 1 interview it was quite a tear jerker because Arran was their main focal point. They weren’t taking praise for themselves, they were pushing the fact that Arran pushed them to start busking for his cancer research fundraising. It was really humbling to hear them give Arran the credit.”
The trio were all at Hedingham School, in Sible Hedingham, where Joe, from Borley Green, and Toby, from Gestingthorpe, still attend. Arran lived in Sudbury but his family have now moved to Long Melford.
“It’s just lovely they will never forget Arran and, for youngsters, they’re our inspiration as well,” said Alison.
“I feel Arran was very lucky to have Joe and Toby in his life. They were only probably close for a year or two but it speaks volumes how lovely the boys are and their families.”
The awards take place on Sunday afternoon in London.
Joe, Toby, and other teenagers from the UK went to Kensington Palace on Tuesday to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
“It was amazing,” said Toby. They were really nice people, and really down to earth. They really invested in what we were saying. They had obviously read about us before and knew what we had done.”
Sunday’s awards at the SSE Arena in Wembley also features performances from musicians Jess Glyne, Shawn Mendes, DNCE and Little Mix and is presented by breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw.
Toby’s parents Terry and Jane Halls said they were still coming to terms with what has been a rollercoaster month.
“In sleepy Suffolk this doesn’t happen and it’s been quite fast paced but really exciting,” said Jane.
Kitchen phone call
It has been a whirlwind month for Joe and Toby but it all began in the most commonplace of surroundings.
“We found out about a month ago,” said Toby. “We got a call from Scott Mills and Chris Stark from on the radio. It was a massive shock to me. We were in my kitchen at home and my mum and Joe’s mum were in the background.”
He said the pair were just told they had to take a call, but had no idea what was about to happen.
He described their feelings looking ahead to the weekend as “really excited and a bit nervous”.
“It’s been a bit weird over the past few days,” said Toby. “Everybody has been asking about it and the teachers have said congratulations.”
Sudbury’s Cancer Research UK shop, in Market Hill, is still looking for volunteers and anyone who could spare a few hours should call 01787 881591 or visit the shop.