The Prime Minister David Cameron will today be hosting a reception in Downing Street for young Londoners shortlisted for the prestigious Spirit of London Awards (SOLA) in memory of Damilola Taylor.
Thirty unsung young heroes of London have made the shortlist from thousands of entrants, nominated for their contributions to local communities in a wide range of fields including music, sport, education, campaigning and business. All those shortlisted have a chance to become SOLA ambassadors and go on to inspire other young people.
The Spirit of London Awards were launched by the Damilola Taylor Trust in 2009 as a legacy project to Damilola and all the other young people lost to youth violence on the streets of London. This week marks the 12th anniversary of Damilola’s death.
The Prime Minister said: “These awards represent everything that is great about the young people of our country. They are a credit to their community and to their city and I am delighted to see what a fantastic job the Damilola Taylor Trust has done in the way the project now has the young people who have come through the awards actually running the event. An extraordinary achievement and a fitting finale to what has been an amazing year for our capital city.”
Gary Trowsdale, founder of the Spirit of London Awards and MD of the Damilola Taylor Trust said: “We set out to create a project that could come to represent real change in the tough inner city communities.”
The winners of the Sprit of London Awards will be revealed at a star-studded event and concert at the O2 Arena on Monday 10th of December, featuring celebrities from the worlds of music, dance and sport including Rio Ferdinand, Leona Lewis, Labrinth, McFly, Maverick Sabre, Diversity and the Noisettes. All the awards on the night will be presented by medallists from the Olympic and Paralympic squads.
Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand, who is one of the judges, said: “I am so proud of what the Damilola Taylor Trust has achieved with SOLA. To have created an event this big is truly magnificent but then it was also important to start recognising the good the youth are doing and not keep focusing on the negative like some media seem to do.”
Labrinth, who also performed at SOLA 2010, said: “I love this event and all that it stands for. In 2010 I played an acoustic version of Bob Dylan's timeless classic “Times They Are A-Changin” as I think that it's relevant to the project and how it illuminates the positive things young people are doing in London”.
Christine Ohuruogu, the Olympic 400m silver medallist said: “The Spirit of London Awards is such an important event and I have been lucky enough to have been involved every year from the start. This has been a fantastic year for London but the inner city areas still face huge challenges and so we should not lose sight of how important a project like this is . Putting the spotlight on the positive things young people are doing is not just refreshing it is vital if we are not to allow the small negative faction get all the attention . This is unfortunately what has tended to happen and SOLA brings some much needed balance in this respect.”
Tickets for the event on December 10th (priced £15-£20) are still available via the Spirit of London Awards website or from the 02