Young people across Suffolk have been doing amazing and inspiring things over the last year, and here are 30 of them who have been recognised for their triumphs and heroics.

Amir Shah

Amir Shah, 19 from Ipswich, demonstrated resilience to continue with his studies at One Suffolk Sixth Form College, in the face of adversity over coming to the UK from Afghanistan.

He received the character strength award and a special CEO and governors choice award at the Colleges awards evening for the past year.


Essii is a singer who has had a meteroric rise over the past two years since she posted cover songs on social media. Through that, she gained a massive following, and her song Brown Eyes - done with American rapper Coi Leray - has been viewed over a million times.

The 20-year-old now splits her time between Ipswich, London and LA, where her management teams are based.

Abi Pike

The 18-year-old BMX biker represented her country at this year's World Championships in France, after recently overcoming a broken elbow injury.

The Suffolk New College student, who has been BMXing since she was six, is hoping to compete at the 2028 Olympics.

Joshua Freemantle

Joshua, 19, left school when he was 16, and is on course to create a Community Interest Company (CIC), that will directly support other young people from disadvantaged/isolated rural communities to help them realise their potential within the creative arts and film industry.

He has also created Sunrise Studios and is set to host Lowestoft's first ever film festival in October, that targets and raises the aspirations of young people through the community.

Jake Andrade

Nominated by cousin Jade Marshall, Jake Andrade also features. The 20-year-old from Stowmarket has had to go through a lot in his life up to this point.

Last December, his AML leukaemia relapsed, after five years of being in remission. He has had to go through all treatment, chemo, radiotherapy and stem cell transplant, while managing to complete the second year of his politics degree, despite not being able to attend university, and is working with the Teenage Cancer Trust, writing blogs and sharing his story to help other young people cope with relapse and treatment.

Layla Davis

Layla Davis is just one of 100 people in the world, known to have Uncomable Hair Syndrome, which has seen her gain notice from around the country, appearing on ITV's This Morning, and gaining over 1,000 followers on Instagram.

She is likely to grow out of it in adolescence, but her mum Charlotte, has said she wants Layla to embrace and love her hair, and to realise how unique she is.

Rocco Dowsett

This little lad, who is almost two years old, was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, which is a combination of four heart defects. He had to go through multiple operations, and is now a "crazy child" according to his mum Leah Purkiss.

He only had a life expectancy of two, but thanks to doctors at Royal Brompton Hospital - who saved his life - he is now doing really well and has even has a little green Lamborghini he travels around in being a big car fan.

Hannah Martin

What a couple of years hockey star Hannah Martin has had. Winning Olympic Bronze for Team GB, and more recently in Birmingham, winning Commonwealth Gold for Team England.

The 27-year-old from Ipswich, a former pupil at Ipswich School, has made a total of 40 appearances for England, and 37 for Team GB.

Jordan Catchpole MBE

The Paralympic swimmer is also on the list. The 22-year-old from Beccles won the Gold Medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo last summer, and also picked up Gold's in his first European and World Championships.

He will be looking to add more Gold medals to his growing collection, with the Paralympics in 2024 being another aim for the Suffolk swimmer. He was also given an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list last year.

Nandi Bushell

This 12-year-old seems to keep going from strength to strength. This year, she performed drums at the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, both on stage with Jax Jones, and during the parade down The Mall.

The Ipswich youngster was later chosen to play at Wembley Stadium with the Foo Fighters by frontman Dave Grohl, after the untimely passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Jamie Small

Jamie Small, 14 is another name on this list. This young man has done so much for charities, that helped him and his family after the passing of his dad, Christopher.

In May, he organised and hosted a 'Fun Day', featuring a game of football between Military Veterans and an England Supporters' Club, hosted at Woodbridge Town FC, with all proceeds going to charity.

Grace Calver

This musician has had a fantastic year since releasing her first single 'Zombie Conversations' which has over 25,000 streams on Spotify, followed by her second single, 'Bored of U' which has over 11,500 streams.

The 18-year-old has been played on radio stations around the world, and has performed with American Pie star Thomas Nicholas in Cambridge.

Keelan Waldock

Business owner Keelan Waldock started his Brownie business 'Bwownies', in 2016 while juggling a part-time job at McDonald's and studying at St Joseph's College in Ipswich.

The 21-year-old has managed to secure a new kitchen unit near Colchester, with hopes of getting his Brownies into supermarkets around the UK, and going carbon-neutral within the next five years.

Ashton Fulcher

14-year-old Ashton Fulcher recently made enough hedgehog and bug houses out of wood, to buy 50 Easter eggs to give to young patients and families at EACH.

For every house he sold, he donated one Easter egg to the charity, and last year, also donated £400 of his earnings from his Pallet Teen business, to the GeeWizz Charity.

Natasha Thomas

Ipswich Town women's star striker helped the side to an FA Cup quarter final against West Ham, and became team's top goal scorer for last season, and also holds the record of all-time top Town goal scorer.

The 27-year-old, Lowestoft born forward, has also become a trustee of the Ipswich Town Foundation, and does plenty around the community for the club and the women's game.

Milo Parker

Milo Parker from Ipswich, is a successful young actor, having starred with Sir Ian McKellen in the 2015 film Mr Holmes, and staring in the ITV show The Durrells with Keeley Hawes and Josh O'Connor.

The 19-year-old still lives locally to Suffolk, and recently went to the Latitude Festival, and saw McKellen again at the New Wolsey Theatre.


Lilliana from Ipswich was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2019 when she was just five years old. After undergoing a 12-hour operation, she is now completely cancer-free age eight.

In March this year, she and her class mates at St Margaret's CEVA Primary School all went to school donning their favourite headwear, with Lilliana also wearing a bead necklace, with every bead on the chain representing every treatment she went through.

Ruby Willcox

Seven-year-old Ruby Willcox ran a 5k Race for Life, in honour of her mum, Henni, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her run, has raised over £1,260 for Cancer Research UK.

Ruby completed her 5k run, which she did with dad Dale, and still helps support her mum, including offering to wash her mum's scalp, and buys her mum treats with her pocket money.

Halle Hilton

Halle Hilton, 18 from Ipswich, will be representing Ireland at the World Championships in Liverpool in October for gymnastics, after performing in the European Championships.

She has won many awards in her career, and will be aiming for a medal place finish when she competes against the best in the world in a few months time.

Macauley Bonne

The former Town forward came back to his home town last season, joining from QPR on loan. During his time in Suffolk, he won the fans hearts, scoring 12 goals for the blues.

Off the pitch though, the 26-year-old did a lot for the community, including opening a youth club in Chantry, attending a Christmas fair in Ipswich, and giving two shirts to Maddy, a 13-year-old with Cerebral Palsy, who had her shirt cut so doctors could operate on her.

Fred Hood

Fred collected his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award this year, even giving Prince Edward a hug. The 22-year-old who has Down Syndrome, said it was the "best day ever" when he collected his award earlier this year.

In order to complete his DofE, he did a 75km canoeing venture down the River Wye, and volunteer at his local church. He completed his DofE through Priory School, Realise Futures, Old Felixstowe Parish and Project 21.

Chris Bridgeman

Chris Bridgeman saved a woman's life in the middle lane of the M25 in November 2021, and was given the rare and prestigious Testimonial on Vellum and Resuscitation certificate from the Royal Humane Society for his heroics.

The 28-year-old who has autism is a probationary instructor with the Suffolk Army Cadet Force, and collected his award earlier this year from Buckingham Palace.

Ozzy Rayner

Ozzy Rayner, 10, was diagnosed with a rare condition when he was just six weeks old. He has Prader-Willi Syndrome, which only affects one in 15,000 children.

He and his mum Victoria raised money for Cancer Research earlier this year, by running and cycling 56-miles around Rendlesham, where they live.

Lovisa Yates

A serial fundraiser, Lovisa Yates, once again pushed herself with a massive cycling challenge, going from Great Blakenham to Bristol to raise money for Shelter HQ.

The 12-year-old has previously cycled from Great Blakenham to Norwich, and then again to London. This challenge has raised over £2,500 for the homeless shelter charity, and I am sure it isn't her last challenge.

Archie Morley

Seven-year-old Archie Morley from Stowmarket completed half a million steps earlier this year, to raise money for the victims of conflict in Ukraine, raising over £1,800.

He set himself the target of taking 15,000 steps a day for a month in order to reach his target, but, due to his determination, he ended up taking 569,087 steps for the month of April.

Fred Hart

16-year-old, Fred Hart fell ill in March and was admitted to Ipswich Hospital for memory loss. In July, he decided to do an 'extreme abseil' down the side of Ipswich Hospital, a total of 135ft, in aid of the new breast cancer unit.

With a target of raising just £150, Fred has smashed that target, and has currently raised £2,505 for The Blossom Appeal, run by Colchester and Ipswich Hospital Charity.

Daniel Jillings

16-year-old Daniel Jillings from Lowestoft was instrumental in a national petition for all teachers to be given deaf awareness training, which has 50,000 signatures.

The Bungay High School student has been completely deaf since birth and has become a campaigner for equal opportunities for people with hearing impairments.

Fabio Wardley

Fabio Wardley also features, as the 27-year-old from Ipswich is the current English heavyweight champion, a title he has held since 2020.

Fabio has had 13 professional fights, and has won all of them since starting his career, and has become a prominent figure in Suffolk, featuring in Ipswich Town's kit launch videos, even being sponsored by the League One team.

Freya Scott

Not only was Freya an extra in 'Downton Abbey: A New Era', but for the role, she had to cut her hair into a bob, and decided to raise money by doing so, raising £325 for Little Princess Trust.

While working on the film, The 11-year-old from Long Melford met stars Hugh Bonneville and Raquel Cassidy, and had to take PCR tests every day on set, as it was in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

Laura Cooledge

Laura Cooledge is a rally co-driver, who is also trying to get more females into motorsport, as only five percent of license holders are women.

Laura has been a rallying co-driver since she was 16, now at 23, she has raced across the country with her dad, and friend Laura Christmas, with both wanting to get more women into the sport.

Special Mention:

As a special mention to add to this list - every single person who sat BTEC, T Level, GCSE and A-Level exams this year.

As the Covid generation dealing with school closures and home-working, this cohort was the first to sit exams for the first time - their first exams since their Year 6 SATs.

All of them deserve a special mention for overcoming these barriers, and the pressure and stress from exams to come out the other end with great results.