The exceptional sporting prowess and versatility of a 14-year-old champion Army cadet from Worksop have landed him a prestigious youth accolade.
Aidan Needham, of Vessey Road, has been named the Bassetlaw district winner at the annual Nottinghamshire County Council 4Uth Awards.
The council received a record number of more than 130 nominations for the awards, which recognise the outstanding achievements or contributions to society of young people in all districts of the county.
Aidan was nominated for his sporting efforts at national, regional and county levels while representing the Worksop detachment of the Army Cadet Force.
His name was put forward by Shane Butkeratis, who is the full-time youth worker at Valley Young People’s Centre in Worksop, where Aidan has been a member for four years.
Shane said: “Since joining the Army cadets only last year, Aidan has developed substantially, passing his proficiency tests, representing the local community in many events, fundraising for local charities and participating in a number of sporting activities, especially swimming, cross-country running and football.”
In swimming, Aidan was crowned national champion at the Royal Academy, Sandhurst, beating cadets from across the UK, after winning county and regional competitions in butterfly, backstroke and front crawl.
In cross-country, he also took a national title, defeating not only Army cadets but also air cadets, sea cadets and marines.
Shane added: “Being the national champion at all these events is very rare and something to be really proud of. Aidan is also part of a football team that came second in a regional competition and fourth nationally.
“He is a very polite, if not quiet, young person, always up for a chat. He is also smart, respectful, honest and hard-working. He volunteers for everything that comes up, and his commitment is second to none. The newer recruits look up to him for guidance, development and inspiration.”
The Worksop detachment of the Army Cadet Force is one of the largest in the county, with more than 40 members.
Aidan, who goes to the Outwood Academy Valley on Valley Road, Worksop, lives with mum Debbie, dad Philip, 16-year-old brother Kieron, ten-year-old sister Amber and their pet dog, Beck.
Dad Philip said: “We are very proud of Aidan. He works so hard all the time and he always wants to do his best. He is really exciting in sport, so it is wonderful that he has been recognised in this way.”