Children aged 4-8 years old were presented with trophies by musician and celebrity dad Aston Merrygold at an awards ceremony held in London.
To mark International Friendship Day on Saturday 30th July 2022, Mattel has announced the winners of the inaugural ‘Thomas & Friends International Friendship Day Awards’.
Five young winners aged between 4-8 years old were selected by a judging panel from hundreds of entrants across the UK. Each winner was presented with their award by Aston Merrygold at a special awards ceremony in London. Each winner has demonstrated an outstanding example of friendship, which has involved putting others first, showing kindness, and going above and beyond to help a friend.
The winners are:
- Noah, aged four, from Dudley, West Midlands
Noah has been best friends with Dylan since they were babies, born two days apart. Dylan was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was very little, and Noah has been by his side ever since. Throughout lockdown, Noah would visit Dylan and draw on the windows to bring a smile to his face, and now they play together every day. Noah is always by Dylan’s side as he receives treatment.
- Imogen, aged six, from Bridgend, South Wales
Imogen met her friend Ethan at playgroup when they were both two. Ethan has Autism and is non-verbal, yet even at such a young age Imogen would always try her best to include Ethan in activities and to play with him. Imogen was clearly very special to Ethan: the first time he ever interacted with another child was when he went up and hugged Imogen. Now both aged six, Imogen and Ethan are still great friends. Imogen plays with Ethan and does the things he enjoys to make sure he feels included. People often comment on their great friendship. Imogen always makes sure places are safe for Ethan and looks out for him.
- Grace, aged five, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
When a Ukrainian refugee family recently moved to Grace’s small town, Grace quickly made friends with 5-year-old Amelia, who started at her school. Grace quickly made Amelia feel welcome and became her friend. Grace has even learnt some Ukrainian so she can talk to Amelia and help her feel at home.
- Millie, aged eight, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Millie was nominated by her teacher, who has observed a very special friendship and bond between Millie and one of her classmates, who has Down’s Syndrome. Millie went above and beyond to help her friend, learning Makaton to be able to communicate with them. She always shows kindness and patience and is very caring towards her friend, from helping with schoolwork to interacting with others on their behalf when required. Her teacher described Millie’s friendship with her classmate as selfless, and says ‘Millie is a very special and remarkable girl’ who recognises the challenges that her friend faces and wants to help, respectfully, in any way she can.
- Corey, aged eight, from Stourport, Worcestershire
When Corey noticed that children in his school were going hungry as their parents couldn’t always afford food, he decided to fundraise for the local community food bank by doing a 10-mile sponsored walk. Corey raised an amazing £920 which was used to help the community centre get food to people in need.
Aston Merrygold said: “I feel very privileged to have been able to host the inaugural Thomas & Friends International Friendship Day Awards and to meet and give some of these very special children their trophies. Hearing their stories today has made it very special: all these children have done amazing things of their own accord. They’ve literally gone above and beyond for other people, and it’s all been their own doing.”
Claudia Caron, UK marketing manager, Mattel UK, said: “It is such an honour for the Thomas & Friends brand to be able to recognise these outstanding acts of friendship by young children from all around the UK. The first ever Thomas & Friends International Friendship Day Awards have truly shown how incredible and remarkable children are, with hundreds of entries all demonstrating real kindness, putting others first and children going above and beyond for their friends. We’re really proud to share the stories of our five winners to celebrate such great acts of friendship.”