Singer Jake Quickenden provided the X Factor at a special awards ceremony held at Ewood Park to celebrate the ‘inspirational’ achievements of children in care.
But, while the Dancing on Ice contestant may have been the celebrity in the room – it was the youngsters themselves who proved to be the stars of the night.
More than 50 children in care from across the borough were presented with special awards.
Amongst the top gongs were Special Achievement Awards for attendance, The Arts, Science, sport, behaviour, academic achievement and for making a positive contribution.
And, it was impossible for members of the audience, including the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Pat McFall, not to be overwhelmed by the incredible stories of the youngsters working hard to turn their lives around.
Councillor Maureen Bateson MBE, Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, was on hand to present the awards alongside the I’m a Celebrity Star, Jake.
She said: “I was incredibly proud to share the stage with some truly inspirational young people from our borough. These are children who haven’t had the best start in life, but yet are overcoming those difficulties and are re-writing their futures.
“We heard so many stories of how the youngsters are working really hard and excelling at school and in their home lives – some of the older ones have now gone on to start university courses and apprenticeships.
“These awards are a special way of recognising their amazing achievements throughout the year and everyone should be incredibly proud of themselves because we are all so proud of them.”
Blackburn Rovers mascot, Rover the Dog, was on hand to help welcome the youngsters alongside a children’s entertainer.
Four of the youngsters also took the stage and wowed the audience with their own performances, including ‘This is Me’ from the Greatest Showman and moving renditions of David Guetta’s ‘Titanium.’
Speaking after the awards, Jake said: “It has been an absolute honour for me to be here tonight and present these awards.
“To think of what some of the youngsters have gone through and yet they’re achieving so much is absolutely amazing.”
The event was organised by Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Virtual School and was proudly sponsored by Blackburn Rovers, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, OSMIS Education Limited and the John Bury Trust.
CEO of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, Gary Robinson, was delighted to see the event putting smiles on so many faces.
He said: “We are always proud to be able to support worthy initiatives of this nature in Blackburn with Darwen and to host the awards at Ewood Park is a special opportunity for our club and charity.
“Our trustee, Cllr Maureen Bateson MBE, undertakes some valuable and richly rewarding work for the benefit of some hugely inspirational children in our borough, so we were particularly heartened to see her being able to play such a key role in the awards night.”
Rovers’ Chief Executive, Steve Waggott, added: “The football club is delighted to have offered its support to the Children in Care Awards by providing match tickets and gift vouchers to all of the winners and by hosting the awards evening here at Ewood Park.
“We have been inspired by their stories, we admire their achievements and we hope the courage they have shown to overcome challenging circumstances serves them well in later life.”