Dalston schoolboy takes on Eton schoolboys and wins

Ife Grillo

Ife Grillo - Credit: Archant

A 14-year-old pupil who has taken on Eton schoolboys in debating competitions – and won – was one of dozens of hardworking Hackney teenagers honoured at a ceremony attended by Emmerdale star Wil Johnson.

Hackney students honoured at the annual Trailblazers awards

Hackney students honoured at the annual Trailblazers awards - Credit: Archant

Ife Grillo, who combines debating with being a youth MP for Shoreditch and vice-chairman of Hackney’s youth parliament, received two gongs in the annual Trailblazer awards – for outstanding achievement and for being part of an outstanding team.

Ife, a student at Bridge Academy in Laburnum Street, Dalston, who also works hard to keep up with his studies, said: “I felt extremely proud to receive these awards, especially the team award. I joined the debating team in Year Seven and it has grown so much. We are currently first place in the Urban Debate Mate League, which is amazing considering our team has only been running three years.

“Sometimes it is hard to get the balance right and I have to work really hard at weekends on my school work, so to get the Outstanding Achievement Award as well has made me really happy.”

The Trailblazer awards, which took place at the Hackney Empire, celebrate young people from Hackney schools who have turned their lives around, who are achieving against the odds, who are doing well at school and who are excelling in sports, music and the arts.

Other youngsters honoured include Lola Jones, Shay-Kwon Lawrence and Jemila Green, who run an after-school Manga club at Stoke Newington School in Clissold Road, Stoke Newington, and Matteo Fernandez, of The City Academy, Hackney, in Homerton Row, Hackney Downs, who played the trumpet in the orchestra at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

Special guests included Nathaniel Levy, who runs The Robert Levy Foundation, which he helped establish in 2004 after his younger brother Robert, 16, was stabbed trying stop a fight near his home in Hackney Grove, Hackney Central.

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Mr Levy, whose foundation helps stop young people from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour and violence, said: “The event was amazing, inspiring and left such a positive legacy in the hearts and minds of all who attended. The future for our Hackney-educated young people looks bright.”

Cllr Rita Krishna, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “This inspirational event celebrates the achievements of some of our most talented and hard-working youngsters. From academic excellence to brilliant team-work and success against the odds, they have some remarkable stories to tell and do Hackney proud.”