The awards – now in their fourth year – were powered by Million Minutes. Hundreds of young people were nominated in six categories, each celebrating a different aspect of Catholic social teaching lived out in action. Danny Curtin, the CEO of Million Minutes said the judging panels were “very impressed by all the young people nominated”. 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols presented the Pope Francis Award to 24-year-old Hannah Forrest who is a volunteer ship visitor for Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) in Plymouth. She regularly visits the ships in port and her work has been vital to the seafarers who come across the world and arrive isolated and fatigued.

She has also raised awareness of seafarers in her parish, recruiting other ship visitors ensuring that many more seafarers receive a welcome. Cardinal Nichols congratulated her, and the other young people present, telling them that he was so proud “to see and sense the vitality of the faith of our Church embodied in so many of the young people gathered tonight”. He added they “have so much generosity and verve for life.”

Our very own Ashton Baker (11) from Abbey Catholic Primary School was also among those recognised and celebrated for the Dorothy Day: Fostering Community and Participation Award on the 3 July.

Ashton Baker is an 11-year-old girl who is Chair of her school’s Chaplaincy Team and has been appointed ambassador for her school due to her attitude and commitment to living Christian values.

In her role as ambassador, Ashton heard about street children in the Philippines and researched money spent on Easter Eggs for the pupils. She gave a presentation and all 425 pupils voted to donate the money to those living in poverty in the Philippines!

Ashton understands that a life in poverty is not something that only happens in other countries. Ashton has a passion for the dignity of each human person and her and her family spent time actively reaching out to the homeless in an evening soup kitchen. Her influence allows her to persuade school leaders, teachers, and family members to make the decision for the common good of all.

Ashton’s headteacher said “She does it because its the right thing to do and she wants to be the very best God called her to be. She wants to empower others to do the same.”

Danny Curtin explained “Young people all too often get a bad name, but their selfless and sometimes unseen actions can inspire all of us. Million Minutes is all about giving a voice to the young people that get overlooked. We’re delighted to have held these awards for the fourth year to recognise young people from across England and Wales. We want to celebrate all that they are and all that they give to our world.”

The awards ceremony enjoyed music from St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, La Retraite and St Thomas the Apostle. 

You can read about all of Million Minutes inspiring Award Recipients and those recognised as ‘Highly commended’ on their award website:

The Awards evening also announced the launch of a new campaign, Million Minutes of Change. Million Minutes will deliver a message to the young people of England and Wales, letting them know valuable and important they are to the Church. Together, they are being invited to creating a million minutes of social action to help change the world: