Two Sudbury teenagers who have raised thousands of pounds for charity have won a BBC Radio One Teen Hero Award.
As part of their prize Joe Snell, 17, and Toby Halls, 15, they will get a chance to record at the world-famous Maida Vale music studios in London. They also met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace in a surprise visit ahead of the awards ceremony.
Stepping up to receive their awards at Wembley Arena on Sunday from DJ Scott Mills, the teens accepted the honour also on behalf of Arran Tosh, their friend who tragically died of a brain tumour two years ago at the age of 13.
The idea of busking was Arran’s and, as the Hedingham School boys were in a band together, they got permission from Sudbury Town Council to busk on Market Hill and outside the Cancer Reserch UK charity shop in Sudbury to raise money for the charity.
Joe and Toby were nominated for the radio award by Cancer Research UK shop volunteer Ivy Pound.
She said: “I’m so extremely proud of those boys and what they have done. They are fantastic kids and I can’t sing their praises enough. They both worked in the shop and Toby still comes in every Saturday for three or four hours.”
Joe also continues to volunteer at the sop whenever he can.
Speaking in a recorded interview before receiving the award for their charity work in Sudbury and The Smile of Arran Trust - set up after the death of their school friend Arran - Joe said: “Being called a hero is a really unusual experience as I know we never really thought we were doing anything heroic.
“We just saw it as carrying on what our friend started. When we go on stage, we are definitely accepting it not only for us but absolutely on Arran’s behalf.”
The Teen Awards were set up to celebrate “selfless, brave and exceptional” achievements of young people aged between 12 and 17 and included inspiring others within their communities or displayed courage and bravery in a tough situation.
After his death, Arran’s family set up The Smile of Arran Trust to fundraise and to raise awareness of brain tumours in children.
Arran died just days after it was discovered he had a brain tumour. His condition was only discovered after a visit to an optician identified a retinal abnormality.
Following his death, thousands of pounds were donated to his online fundraising page and The Smile of Arran Trust was set up in his memory.
Alison Tosh, from Bull Lane, Long Melford, who chairs the Trust, said she was extremely proud of her son’s friends’ hard work and for the way they had carried on fundraising in Arran’s memory, taking part in the charity’s various events.
She attended the awards day on Sunday, along with her family and said it was an experience that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
“The boys look so smart and handsome, and it was absolutely fantastic to meet everyone and see behind the scenes,” she said.
“Parts of the day were hard, thinking about Arran, and I suppose you could say it was a bitter sweet experience. The boys and their families worked so hard to make sure we were OK, and it was also hard for them.
“They said they would accept the award on behalf of Arran too. I am very proud of them.”
Alison said up-coming Trust fundraising includes packs of The Smile of Arran Trust Christmas cards going on sale at Winch & Blatch in Sudbury.
A bag packing fundraiser is at Sainsbury’s in Haverhill on December 18, when the Trust will have cards and calendars on sale, and support from Sudbury’s Fat Face shop which has selected the Trust as its chosen charity to benefit from a Black Friday sale on November 25.