A 17-year-old girl from Preston has been crowned a Teen Hero at BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards 2017.
Charlotte Bower, who studies art at Cardinal Newman College in Preston, was one of four winners from across the UK. She was presented with the prestigious Teen Hero award for volunteering in October at a packed SSE Arena at Wembley in front of 10,000 people.
As part of Charlotte’s prize, she and other Teen Heroes of 2017 visited Kensington Palace for a special reception with Princes William and Harry, along with BBC Radio 1 DJs Greg James, Nick Grimshaw and Clare Amfo, and singer Rita Ora.
The BBC also arranged for Charlotte to be surprised by a number of her celebrity idols during a fun-packed weekend visit to London in September.
Charlotte was honoured with the Radio 1 Teen Hero Award for Volunteering for her work with Lancashire’s Children in Care Council (LINX). This participation service gives young people the opportunity to influence decision-making and bring about change at a local and national level, and the group is run for Lancashire County Council by children’s charity Barnardo’s.
After experiencing the care system in her mid-teens, Charlotte was keen to help shape the future for other children in care and has been a member of LINX for three years.
Along with other group members, the inspirational 17-year-old has been heavily involved in campaigning and project work, using her own experience to help influence nationwide policy and make a difference to the lives of young people in care.
Highlights of Charlotte’s achievements include working with the Children’s Commissioner to help pass a Bill through Parliament, setting up a helpline for children in care and successfully campaigning for all 12 district councils across Lancashire to make care leavers under 25 exempt from paying council tax. Charlotte and the group have also helped to bring about changes that allow young people to have a greater say in the services they receive in Lancashire.
Charlotte was also involved in the national Takeover Challenge last November, during which she co-produced CBBC’s Blue Peter for the day, including the live show that went out on the BBC that evening.
BBC Radio 1 describes Charlotte and the three other Teen Heroes as 'outstanding young winners, who have all proven their dedication to helping others through selfless, brave and exceptional achievements.'
The Radio 1 Teen Awards took place on Sunday 22 October and were hosted by Radio 1 Breakfast Show presenter Nick Grimshaw, alongside singer Rita Ora. An audience of 14-17 year-olds enjoyed musical performances from a superstar line-up, including Liam Payne, Rita Ora, The Vamps, Camila Cabello and Dua Lipa, as well as appearances by celebrity award winners and award presenters.
In recognition of Charlotte’s award win, Radio 1 arranged a special weekend trip to London for her in September, in which she met and lunched with her all-time celebrity idol, singer George Ezra. Charlotte also met with another of her idols, Arthur Darvill (Rip Hunter from Legends of Tomorrow) and received a video message from Tom Felton (Malfoy from Harry Potter), as she was given a VIP tour of the BBC studios and helped Radio 1 presenter Dev to deliver his show behind the scenes.
Radio 1 Teen Hero, Charlotte said: “It was a massive surprise to find out I had been nominated to be a Teen Hero and my mum and I were so happy to find out. It’s been hectic since winning the award but it’s been such an amazing experience.
“I got involved with Barnardo’s as I wanted to start speaking up about issues and also to represent so many others in similar situations too. It’s a great feeling when we get together and work hard as a group to resolve an issue. I love seeing the outcome when a problem gets fixed and other people’s lives have improved as a result. It has helped me boost my confidence massively and has given me a voice, which I didn’t feel was being heard before.”
Debbie Nolan-Plunkett, Barnardo’s Children’s Services Manager in Lancashire said: “We could not be more thrilled that Charlotte has been honoured as a Teen Hero. Charlotte is an inspirational young woman who is committed, determined and humble and she goes above and beyond in her work with LINX to make sure that the voices of children in care are heard loud and clear. Her work has helped to make a difference to the lives of children in care around the country and I have no doubt that as her work continues, she will make a difference to the lives of many more.”
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: "I'm delighted that Charlotte has been acknowledged for the outstanding contribution she has made helping other young people. Charlotte is clearly an inspirational young person, setting an example to others at such a young age. This recognition shows how a single person can affect change, and the difference that can be made. I'd like to send Charlotte my personal congratulations on receiving such prestigious national recognition. This is wonderful news."
For more information on Barnardo’s Lancashire Participation services or to get involved in volunteering with one of Barnardo’s services in Lancashire, please contact the Include Me 2 Centre, Lostock Hall on 01772 629 470.