TODAY we announce the first winner in the Lancashire Telegraph Community Heroes Awards 2021 – kindly sponsored by Blackburn with Darwen Council.

A teenager who did all he could to help the elderly and vulnerable during the pandemic despite battling leukaemia has been named Young Person of the Year.

Sahil Usman, 16, has been an inspiration to many young people since putting together hampers for the elderly and vulnerable in March 2020.

The Lancashire Telegraph Community Heroes Awards Young Person of the Year, sponsored by Hanson, recognises a young person who has shown resilience beyond their years over the past 18 months.

People were asked to nominate a young person who carried out voluntary work, performed a carer role in their family or demonstrated independence and maturity while their key worker parents/guardians battled coronavirus.

We had lots of entries in our various categories and the winners will be announced online in the run-up to a celebration supplement in the Lancashire Telegraph on December 16 featuring all of those successful.

Sahil, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2018, went out of his way despite his health worries to put together food hampers after he said he was 'made sick' by the panic buying in advance of the first lockdown which saw supermarkets across the country left with empty shelves.

Sahil said: "I don't do this for the awards but they help to push me to do more as it's nice to be recognised for what I do.

"I do this because I want to help people who are vulnerable and elderly.

"I can relate to the community out there who I help and I know how they feel because they had to isolate in the pandemic and so did I.

"I'm happy what I did helped people when they needed it."

Sahil was taken out of his secondary school Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in March 2020 while in year 10 and studying for his GCSEs as the staff wanted to keep him safe due to his illness making him more vulnerable

He remained out of school for several months and he has since finished his GCSEs, getting one 9 and seven 7s, and is now studying A Levels at the school.

Sahil was named the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year 2020, as well as being given the Diana Award and other awards for his contributions to the community.

After his recognition by the High Sheriff, he spent some of his £500 winnings on presents for children at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Royal Manchester Hospital - something he has been doing annually.

He delivered the presents himself to both hospitals.

Other awards will recognise NHS staff, volunteers, carers and businesses who have gone above and beyond to help the community during the pandemic.

Jacob Reddy, a musician and busker who raises money for Derian House Children's Hospice, was highly commended.