Star singer Ashley John-Baptiste entertained over 350 cared for children, young people and carers at Rochdale Borough Council’s celebration day for the achievements of the borough’s cared for children.
The ceremony was part of Our Big Day, a day-long mini-festival exclusively for children who are in the care of the council.
The event also included a barbeque, ice cream, photo booth, bouncy castle, free popcorn, mechanical rodeo bull, messy play, crafts, dance workshops and a whole host of other attractions – all free for attendees to enjoy.
Ashley John-Baptiste provided the entertainment for the ceremony. He is a young BBC broadcast journalist and presenter who grew up in foster care from age 4 and went on the study history at Cambridge University. He spoke about his experiences at the event and how he dealt with his time in foster care.
'The atmosphere was positive and truly inspirational'
Ashley was honoured to be part of the event saying: “It was a huge privilege to attend Rochdale's celebration of cared for children. The atmosphere was positive and truly inspirational."
As well as performances and talks from the star performers, each cared for child received a certificate and goody-bag, having been nominated by those closest to them for achieving something special in the past year in categories such as Being an Outstanding Role Model and Caring for Others, Outstanding Engagement or Progress in Education and Outstanding Determination, Resilience and Positive Attitude.
Special recognition award recipients this year included a girl aged 14 who has taken on the role of an anti-bullying ambassador in her spare time and a boy aged 14 who has achieved great success in rugby while gaining good qualifications in order to get to university to realise his ambition of being a physiotherapist or sports scientist.
The ceremony closed with Ashley John-Baptiste and pianist Matthew Smith treating the audience to songs dedicated to those in care. Ashley was an X Factor finalist in 2011 with The Risk.
Councillor Donna Martin, cabinet member for children at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It was astounding to see the achievements of so many of our children and young people. It’s a great event and the atmosphere was electric in the ceremony when everyone was getting up for their certificates. To meet people who have achieved so much against the odds and are achieving such amazing results in their education is very powerful. Everyone was enjoying themselves and thanks to all those involved in the event.”
'We’re really proud of all the children and what they are achieving'
Gail Hopper, director of children’s services, said: “They were some truly inspirational stories on show today and we’re really proud of all the children and what they are achieving. The day is a great celebration for them and their carers to have fun and celebrate.”
Our Big Day was organised by Rochdale Council and thanks go to the sponsors; Oulder Hill Community School, Clock Tower Dining Room, BKC Trophies, Co-Op, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Rochdale AFC, Inspired Spaces, Carillion, GFM, Link4Life, and Rochdale Borough Council – Giving Back Charity.