National honour for Bodelwyddan carer who set up Rhyl karate school at 12

Reporter:

Suzanne Kendrick

A YOUNG carer who set up her own karate club at the age of 12 now has letters after her name after being honoured in this year’s British Citizen Youth Award (BCyA).

Bethan Owen, 15, from Bodelwyddan was recognised for her incredible efforts at a formal presentation held at the Palace of Westminster.

The awards – run in association with Specsavers – seek to highlight the many acts of bravery, kindness and compassion carried out by young people.

The pupil of Ysgol Emrys Ap Iwan in Abergele – who set up her not-for-profit karate academy in Rhyl in 2015 and launched her second academy in Llandudno last December – received her BCyA medal from Ashley Banjo, creative director and lead dancer of Diversity.

Since the age of five, Bethan has helped her dad, Garry care, for her mum, Julie, who suffers with severe epilepsy.

At seven years’ old, Bethan was introduced to karate.

The teenager has since achieved her black belt, gained her instructor’s badge and in March this year received a ‘Point of Light’ Award from Prime Minister Theresa May.

Dad Garry said: “We couldn’t be more proud of Bethan.

“She has gone through so much but, through her karate training, she has been able to help so many people in the community.

“Before we headed to the awards, Bethan was nervous but also excited.

“She couldn’t sleep the night before. It was the first awards that Julie was able to come to.

“Ashley (Banjo) was fantastic. He was so tall. He must be about seven foot. I said to him ‘you need to come down about four feet’.”

Garry added proudly: “They say the BCyA is the equivalent of OBE, so she can use the initials after her name.

“The palace itself was absolutely beautiful. Before we went into the presentation, we had these beautiful cakes – like an afternoon tea.

“After the event, we had a lap of honour on an open-top London bus.

“We are so proud of Bethan. She takes everything in her stride. Bethan’s granddad, Kenneth, helps with funding the club and has never yet missed an event. He follows Bethan everywhere.”

Bethan, who is going for her second degree black belt in November, said: “I feel honoured to have won the award, to hear other people’s stories.

“Karate has given me so many opportunities. Unfortunately, my mum’s illness will never go away but I am so glad I can help other people.”

Bethan was one of 24 children from across the UK who were recognised by the BCyA.

Both of her academies offer children and adults the opportunity to take up martial arts.

The clubs attract carers looking after relatives and help to boost confidence and self-esteem.

Ashley Banjo said it was an honour to be involved in the awards.

“What a fantastic way to recognise these young people that have made a difference to their communities!” he said.

“These inspirational young people are making a difference and encouraging other young people to do the same.”

Email:

suzanne.kendrick@nwn.co.uk

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