A CHARITY born at a Warrington high school has won an award for its influence on young people.

TOBY UK won a ‘highly commended’ gong at the FSI Small Charity Big Impact Awards, and have seen more than 600 14-17 year-olds improve their leadership skills and confidence on their residential seminars.

The idea was hatched by CEO and ex Sir Thomas Boteler High School head teacher John Sharples after he saw the impact a similar trip in America had.

He said: “A kid came back into year 11 just as I was starting and she’d been to Washington to a massive conference and she loved it.

“Her uncle, who’d emigrated to the States, paid for her to go because she thought it’d be good for her, then she had a sister and he wanted her to go the following year, but he said he’d sponsor someone else and asked me to pick them.

“He carried on sponsoring other kids to go for a couple of years, and it was transformational to their lives, but then I said this is a lot of money to send two kids to America, can we do something here.”

Warrington Guardian:

The 64-year-old was then sponsored to observe the event, and when he came back he set up his own version for students at his school, Birchwood High School and Great Sankey High School.

Over the years, students who had attended the Easter holiday event began taking over the roles of school staff as leaders, and when John retired in 2014 he decided to start it as a charity.

They now run a four-day residential at the University of Chester and one-day workshops around the north west.

Small Charity Big Impact gives recognition to charities with an annual turnover of less than £1m and creates a promotional video for each winner.

Mr Sharples explained how proud he is that HOBY UK received the award, saying: “It’s really gratifying to see how far we’ve come and for all that to be recognised in this national award.”

Applications for their next seminar on April 7-10 open in October, and their website is www.hoby.org.uk.