In inspirational young fundraiser for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind has won a carers award.
Sixteen-year-old Tom Wood, who lost his father to suicide last year and cares for his disabled mother and siblings, has been named Carer of the Year at the Pride of Rugby Awards 2017.
Tom has been supported by Coventry and Warwickshire Mind since the death of his dad in January 2016. The charity helps people of all ages across Coventry and Warwickshire who experience mental health problems through a range of free support services. And Tom, who lives in Rugby and attends Avon Valley School & Performing Arts College in the town, raises funds for the charity and awareness that mental health matters.
Coventry and Warwickshire Mind chief executive officer, Kay St Clair, said: “Tom is a truly inspirational young man and his Pride of Rugby Award is richly deserved. Sadly, too many families and young people like Tom are affected by suicide. As a charity we make it our mission to support anyone experiencing mental health problems, to raise awareness and combat stigma, and we hope Tom continues raising funds and awareness to support others as he has done so excellently already.”
Tom’s mum Emma, 41, nominated her son as she lives with chronic pain and he helps her around the home. He is also a source of support as his younger brother has autism and his sister is being treated for mental health issues.
"Tom has always been a caring young man and a lovely child,” said Emma. “When his father died he did not stop to think only about himself but went out of his way and helped others.
“He is constantly spreading awareness about how mental health matters and helps me and his brother which is something he's proud of. I nominated him for the award because I know he is awesome and deserved it."
Tom says the mental health charity was there when he needed someone to turn to. He said: “Coventry and Warwickshire Mind helped me so much. I didn't understand why my dad took his own life and I was feeling really guilty and not mentally well myself, but reading people's stories on the website and getting advice helped me.”
He was among a shortlist of five carers but the judges agreed he was a clear winner in the category. They felt he had coped with life-changing events admirably and was an inspirational example to all.
During his acceptance speech at the glittering awards ceremony at Coombe Abbey Hotel the student mentor explained how he had been left shaken by the news of his father’s death but went to school the next day to help others during one of the hardest times in his life.
He also talked of his fundraising for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind and ended his speech to a standing ovation by saying: “I just want to remind everyone that there’s someone out there who cares and someone who will support you.”
You can watch his acceptance speech in full here.
Tom raises funds for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind via his sponsorship webpage.