THEY are the future of our community.
And they were given a well-deserved pat on the back for achieving great things already in their short lives.
There were cheers of pride and tears of joy as young people from across the area were crowned the winners of The News’ Youth Awards.
More than 200 people went to The Kings Theatre for the ceremony, which was exciting and upbeat in some moments and deeply moving and emotional in others.
One of those cherishing her trophy today is Clare McConnachie, who was the Star of the Family winner and overall winner.
The 16-year-old, of Tregaron Avenue, Drayton, is a pillar of the community – a Brownie leader, a lifeguard, and a coach of Portsmouth’s synchronised swimming team.
Clare put her all into the community while being a carer for her father Craig, who was diagnosed with the debilitating genetic disorder Huntington’s disease 10 years ago.
She supported her father at every turn. Sadly, he died from pneumonia in March of this year at the age of 53.
Clare dedicated her trophy to the memory of her father.
Fighting back tears, she said: ‘It’s amazing.
‘I did not expect anything at all. This means a lot. It just shows what I have done is amazing and I need to keep on doing it.
‘It’s been quite hard.’
Clare has a 50 per cent chance of developing the condition, but is determined to smile and enjoy every day.
Her mum Annette Ablitt said: ‘We had fantastic carers, but a lot fell on Clare – more than she realises.
‘When she came home from school, we would have to do things a lot of people her age do not have to do. But she would always get on with it. I’m very proud of her.’