Long Melford boy receives Points of Light award from Downing Street after sharing experience of caring for mother with multiple sclerosis
A caring 10-year-old boy from Long Melford, who has supported his mother with multiple sclerosis from a young age, has been recognised by Number 10 for his work to raise awareness for young carers.
Long Melford Primary School pupil Blake Leonard received the Points of Light award – an accolade that honours inspiring community volunteers – at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.
The award comes after Blake delivered a speech to MPs at an event in Westminster earlier this year, about his experience caring for his mother since he was five years old, carrying out household duties such as cooking and cleaning.
He also spoke about the bullying he and other young carers face, due to their responsibilities making it difficult for them to join in activities with their classmates.
The youngster then launched the Choc for Champs project, which aimed to collect Easter eggs to be distributed by Suffolk Family Carers for other children like him.
He received a total of 500 eggs with support from the local community and Long Melford Football Club, which invited Blake to be their first-team mascot for their home match against Haverhill FC on Easter Monday.
“I am still lost for words about winning the award,” said Blake.
“I hope it will help Chocs for Champs get even bigger.”
His mum, Libby, added: “I am incredibly proud of him for stepping up to help other young carers and raise awareness of what they do.
“He works so hard to help me every day and inspires me completely.”
In addition to his speech to MPs, which is helping to shape Ofsted’s new draft framework for 2019, Blake also holds talks to spread awareness of the challenges dealt with by young carers, and appeal for further measures to respond to their needs.
His efforts drew the praise of the Carers Trust, whose chief executive Giles Meyer described him as “an incredible advocate” for young carers.
Blake also received a personal letter from Prime Minister Theresa May this week, which read: “You should feel very proud of your recent speech at Westminster which has helped Members of Parliament understand more about the amazing care you give your mum.
“By speaking about your daily life, you are giving a voice to young carers across our country.”
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, who presented Blake with his Points of Light award on behalf of the Prime Minister, stated he had been “profoundly moved” by Blake’s story.
“Blake is only 10 and, as a father of a ten-year-old boy myself, it’s so impressive to hear his story,” he said.
“He not only cares for his mother, but has somehow found the time to still think of others beyond home, and to help them with his brilliant effort, gathering hundreds of Easter eggs for other young carers.
“I look forward to helping Blake at Christmas when he seeks another round of Chocs for Champs and will do my best to assist in promoting that effort on social media.”
More by this authorThomas Malina