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Septuagenarian youth-worker

13 December 2013

"I WASN'T surprised - I was flabbergasted," she says. Carol Stewart (centre in photo) could not believe it when she received a phone call asking if she would go to London to receive one of the National Christian Youth Work (NCYW) Awards. "I told them they'd got the wrong person."

The 74-year-old was, in fact, named Volunteer of the Year, and the award was presented at the London School of Theology. The judges were a panel of youth-work practitioners, lecturers, and young people, and the nominations had come in from the public.

They were looking for someone "who has shown exceptional commitment to Christian youth-work, freely offering their time and energy to serve young people . . . [and] is passionate, skilled, reliable, and servant-hearted". And the young people whom Ms Stewart has worked with for 40 years, at All Saints', Ilkley, apparently consider her to be just that.

One of them said: "I still consider Carol one of the top three role-models in my life, and will for ever be grateful for her love and sacrifice." Another said: "She makes the Bible and Christianity relevant, and knows how to make us sit up and listen" One of her proposers, Sarah Lorimer, says: "We are all very proud of her, and this is just a small way of thanking her for the way she has influenced our lives, and giving her the public recognition she deserves."

Her work at All Saints' started in 1975 with a Pathfinders group; then came Discoverers, a midweek activity for young children, and also a Sunday-night group for 13-18 year-olds; and, as recently as 2010, she started yet another midweek Bible study for the same age range.

Two of the five NCYW awards were won by people in Bradford diocese. Adie Hinsley, who works in the Laisterdyke area of Bradford, was named Youth Worker of the Year.

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