The special achievements of children in care and care leavers have been proudly honoured by Kirklees Council.

Over 30 young people took centre stage as they were celebrated for their personal successes in the last year.

The Achieve Awards is an annual event hosted by the council for children in care and care leavers, many of whom have experienced difficult lives.

Achievements this year were in areas including education, employment and training, success with personal goals, sports and leisure and making a positive contribution to the local community.

Family and friends were also invited to the awards, which featured music and other involvement from young people themselves.

Special guests included top radio presenter Stephanie Hirst, Cllr Viv Kendrick (Kirklees Cabinet member for Children), Cllr Cahal Burke (Mayor of Kirklees), Steve Mawson (Chief Executive of Kirklees Council) and Tom Brailsford (Strategic Director of Children’s Services).

Huddersfield Town stars Pat Jones and Jacob Chapman visited the event, signing autographs and posing for pictures before visiting tables across the venue to speak with those in attendance.

Cllr Kendrick said: “Young people across Kirklees are truly amazing and I was honoured to be part of this wonderful occasion marking their achievements.

“We do a huge amount of work to support children and young people who enter care. It’s vital they are given the right support and the right opportunities to thrive.

“They have often faced a lot of adversity and, like all children across Kirklees, they deserve the very best start in life.

“The Achieve Awards are all about inspirational people and inspirational deeds. We’re always incredibly proud to see children in care and care leavers fulfilling their potential, whatever that may be.”

The awards took place at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield and featured a speech from Stephanie Hirst, who talked about her dreams to be on the radio from a young age, the challenges she has faced and her gender transition.

It coincided with National Care Leavers’ Week, which gives a voice to care leavers and raises awareness of the challenges they face.

Also acknowledged was Huddersfield Town Foundation’s partnership with Kirklees Council through its Care Leavers programme, which supports young people in achieving meaningful and sustained employment.

The Foundation runs the ‘TURN OUT’ programme for individuals aged between 18 and 25 who are not in full-time employment, education or training by providing holistic in-depth support.

The Foundation highlighted some of the individuals who have progressed through the programme and now act as role models for others, shining a light on their learner journeys over the past 12 months.

The Foundation also handed out 160 tickets for Huddersfield Town’s match against Southampton to reward all participants who attended the awards for their hard work throughout the year.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Siobhan Atkinson, said: “The Foundation is proud to deliver our own programme in partnership with Kirklees Council and we are indebted to the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association for their funding.

“We’ve seen first-hand the impact we can have in inspiring, supporting and developing the skills of these young people to make their transition into adulthood a bit easier by equipping them with essential life skills they’ve not necessarily been fortunate to have developed or had passed on to them.”

In Kirklees, Care Leavers Week was also marked by a series of smaller events inviting care-experienced young people to get together and enjoy new activities.