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Sunderland Young Achievers' Awards 2024: Molly Mackings

Updated: May 6

Our Volunteer


(Molly stood with her mother for the Stand for Action Challenge in 2021, raising £1.5 million)


Molly Mackings, a beacon of compassion and dedication, has woven her indelible mark into the fabric of Tailored Leisure since its inception in 2019. This not-for-profit organisation has found its heart in Molly, who, at just 15 years old, played a pivotal role in its foundation alongside her mother, a courageous woman battling Cerebral Palsy.


Tailored Leisure Co.’s mission resonates deeply with Molly. Physical fitness and mental health well-being inclusive for all people. The organisation boasts a diverse array of programs catering to elderly individuals, adults, and children alike. Molly's tireless efforts to support the group have seen Tailored Leisure grow. They plan to offer more sessions to SEND children in Barbara Preitman’s, Sunningdale, Keelmans way, and Epinay. They are also forging partnerships with charities dedicated to children with disabilities. Tailored Leisure have offered tasters (a free 4 week exercise class) to Grace house and Headway Wearside (one of their key charity partners). Percy Headley foundation and Tailored Leisure Co. have plans to deliver long term fitness outreach from January of 2024. Molly is thrilled her efforts to bring adapted fitness and leisure to SEND children like herself and her brother will provide them with the opportunity to thrive.


In her role as a volunteer and integral member of Tailored Leisure, Molly recognizes the profound impact that financial barriers can have on individuals and families seeking to prioritise their health. With an acute awareness of the importance of inclusivity, Molly tirelessly channels her energy into supporting and participating in fundraising events that go beyond the traditional boundaries of charity drives. Her passion for the cause becomes a driving force, inspiring others to contribute to the financial health of the organisation. Through her efforts, Molly has been able to raise money that has contributed to the children’s programs Tailored Leisure are currently running and plan to run in the future.

Molly's journey with Tailored Leisure is a testament to her resilience and commitment. For the past three years, she has donned multiple hats, not only as a devoted young carer to her mother but also as a cornerstone of support for the organisation. Molly not only provided crucial assistance in the establishment of the business but continues to play an instrumental role in its day-to-day operations. From on-site client support to the seamless execution of physical tasks, Molly's presence is felt both in the spotlight of events and awards and behind the scenes where her creativity contributes to the ongoing growth and development of the organisation.


(Molly supported two disabled participants during Tailored Leisure's 2023 Access Audit of the Centre for Life, Newcastle)


Molly has notably supported a parent in a wheelchair, ensuring access to perinatal health services. Over two years, she profoundly impacted the parent's mental and physical health, leading to positive changes. The child now happily participates in Tailored Leisure's classes, showcasing Molly's lasting influence on health and wellbeing. Thanks to Molly's support, the child will develop a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle, positively impacting their adulthood.


(Artemis left, Artemis' daughter middle, Molly right - 2024)


Molly also always supports the homeless and each year. She and her mother collect blankets and coats that are donated to homeless charities.


Molly is a champion for the health and well-being of disabled children in her local community and to families with disabilities more broadly. Her endeavours have helped create pathways for families with disabilities to access improved health opportunities and foster a community where everyone, regardless of ability, can thrive. Molly Macking’s story is not just one of volunteerism; it is a narrative of empowerment, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of making the world a more inclusive and compassionate place for all.


Molly the Young Carer


(Tara Mackings BEM left, Mackings middle back, cute family dog middle front, Molly Mackings right)


Molly Mackings, an amazing young person, full of resilience and compassion, she embodies the true spirit of selflessness in the face of adversity. Her journey as a young carer began the moment she took her first breath, navigating the intricate web of responsibilities that come with caring for a mother battling Cerebral Palsy and a younger brother grappling with a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) condition.


Despite the weight of her own health challenges, including her own struggle with ADHD and other conditions, Molly has stood unwavering in her commitment to being the pillar of support for her family. Her mother, confined to a powered wheelchair, leans on Molly's unwavering strength and love, while her younger brother finds solace in the sister who goes above and beyond to understand and accommodate his unique needs.


One of Molly’s proudest achievements as a Young Carer was the first family holiday they took after the divorce of her parents. At 15 years old Molly, her younger brother and mother departed for Spain. Molly states that the hardest part of their journey was the airport. She collected bags which included vital medical devices for her mother, helped her mother on the plane and helped to calm her brother in the overstimulating and unfamiliar environment. The experience was both challenging and empowering. It revealed her capability and reassured her that her family would be okay.


Even with the demands of college life vying for her attention, Molly remains undeterred in her mission to be a force for good. In addition to her studies, she takes on the role of a Personal Assistant (PA) to a family grappling with the challenges of having two disabled parents caring for an under-2-year-old child. Molly's empathy, forged in the crucible of her own upbringing, resonates when she shared with the parents, "My mam got a lot of help to raise me and my brother; it feels right to give that opportunity to another family."


(Molly and the child whose parents she supports)


Her mother wrote: “She has been a fantastic support to me and her brother who has autism and even though she does things most young people her age should never have to consider, she has gone on to be a fantastic support for my not-for-profit and is now training full time as a veterinary nurse.”


In a world that often overlooks the quiet heroes among us, Molly stands as a testament to the strength that emerges from compassion and the transformative power of lending a helping hand. Her story is not just one of duty; it's a narrative of love, sacrifice, and a relentless pursuit of making the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time. Molly Mackings, a beacon of hope and inspiration, lights up the path for others to follow, reminding us all that true heroes emerge not in the absence of challenges, but in their unwavering resolve to overcome them with grace and compassion.


Nominations


For her lifetime of achievements, Molly was nominated in three categories:

  • Young Carer Award

  • Health and Wellbeing Champion Award

  • Local Community Award


From these categories, she was shortlisted for the Young Carer Award.



Young Sunderland Achievers' Award Ceremony


The ceremony, held at Rainton Arena, was beautiful. Special attention was put in the decorations, food and drinks which catered to both the youths being honoured and their families. The facility was accessible with wide doorways and accessible toilets. The lights and music were bright, loud and changed frequently which made the event very sensory stimulating.


(Click on the image to read more about the awards)


Together for Children had a booth in the entrance showcasing all the wonderful work that youth groups have been doing in the area and all the ways they have changed our community for the better. It was also particularly touching to see all the support available for young parents and how this support transformed their lives and the lives of their children.

Molly was joined this evening by her mother Tara, her boyfriend Tyler and myself - the person who nominated her.


(Tara Mackings BEM left, Molly Mackings middle, Tyler right)


After getting my free beverage and eating some delicious food, we enjoyed a lovely performance from the Mill Hill Rock Band. Playing songs from when I was a teenager, I felt transported back to my own youth. It was the perfect way to open the proceedings for this event.


(Click on the image to find out more about the Mill Hill Rock Band)


All the Winners and Highly Commended for each category were incredible - both their lives and achievements extraordinary. Each and every one of them were deserving of the receiving their awards that evening.


As the category for the Young Carer Award approached, I felt my heart racing. I was so nervous for the young woman who had changed my life for the better and hoped will all my being that she would win.


When I saw her face on the screen and realised she had won her category the table burst into collective joy. Tara held my hand as we watch Molly take to the stage and accept her award.


(Photo credit - Together for Children)




The proceedings paused for a performance from the Lambton Streetz Dance Crew. Their dancing, choreography and understanding of the music was incredible. They are such a talented group of young people and I felt privileged to see their amazing skills at work.


(Click on the image to find out more about the Lambton Streetz Dance crew - image from Durham Gala)


As the final categories were called, and their deserving recipients took to the stage, the final award approached - the Overall Winner Award also known as the Andy Neal Award.


This category was for the most outstanding of all the 150 nominees to recognise their wide ranging and diverse achievements.


Being nominated in three categories, I wondered if Molly could win this category too - but it was a hope to big to dream about.


As the announcer introduced the category, I froze in place - my heart was beat so fast I couldn't hear what he was saying. Then in big white letters we say the name of the winner:


MOLLY MACKINGS







I'll admit - I started crying. But no one cried more than her mother who was overwhelmed with pride and joy.


Molly has done so many incredible things in her short life and changed so many other for the better, including mine, that it was overwhelming to see her honoured for her achievements. I know of no one more deserving of this award than her.



As the evening moved to its close, we were honoured with a final performance from the Sunderland Music Hub Choir. Their melodic voices created the perfect farewell for a transformative evening.


(Click on the image to find out more about the Sunderland Music Hub Choir - image from Together for Children)


Congratulations!

All of us at Tailored Leisure would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to our first, youngest and longest working volunteer - Molly Mackings!



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