I don't do pomp and ceremony stuff usually, but it was actually really emotional for me

Long serving Youth Moves youth worker Paul Coyne has won the prestigious High Sheriff's award.

The Knowle West born and bred man was voted for by our Youth Opinions group that represent the voice of young people locally.

The award was received on Friday 15th July at the Bristol Young Heroes Awards. 

Find out about the Bristol Young Heroes Awards run by Community of Purpose here

Paul Coyne is the type of man that doesn’t like the fanfare, or indeed any fuss being made about him. He has quietly gone about his youth work across the estates of South Bristol for over 20 years. But when he won this award, for once he did feel by his own admission a little emotional. He said: "I don't do pomp and ceremony stuff usually, but it was actually really emotional for me. I suppose if you call it emotional, I guess.

"What was really nice was that the High Sheriff asked for Youth Opinions group to come up on stage, who were all the young people who'd nominated me. And funnily enough they were all wearing masks of me!" he laughed.

Paul Coyne is winner of the High Sheriff's award at the Bristol Young Heroes awards. Photo credit : Studio Duo

Yes, the Youth Opinions group designed some Paul Coyne masks in tribute to him, and of course to add a touch of humour to the occasion. The award was presented by the High Sheriff herself, Alex Raikes the CEO of SARI, a Hate Crime Charity that support victims, and deliver training, consultancy and strategic work in this area. She said: “All the nominees for this award are clearly people making a huge difference in the lives of the children and young people they work with and support.

I noted that this was someone who never seeks out reward or recognition for all that he does to make a difference and who will run away from the spotlight. 

But, Paul Coyne, the people whose lives you have touched, continue to touch and fellow colleagues, think differently. They really wanted you to win this award,” she added.

The poignant words of the High Sheriff resonated with anyone, from young people, to families, volunteers, and staff that has spent any amount of time with Paul over the years. It was an apt and glowing tribute. Alex continued: “Everything you have done for children and young people in your community over the past 25+ years via your various roles shows your true dedication and commitment and that you go above and beyond and will prioritise the needs of young people even if it means going out of your way. 

You clearly have huge insight and recognise the disadvantage and challenges many of the young people you come across face, and you are someone who enables them to overcome some of their difficulties so they have more of a chance and can make it in life. 

Paul (centre) gathers with all the young people nominated for an award on Corn Street by Bristol Harbour Hotel

It was indeed a proud moment for Paul and for Youth Moves, for recognition for his work under the radar for years. CEO Ali Dale who has worked with Paul for two decades said: “Paul is one of those people who every community and team needs. He is always happy to do more if it is improving the lives of young people, always believes we can improve our offer, and builds great relationships with young people. 

He really deserves this recognition from the city and the High Sheriff.”

To find out more about the Bristol Young Heroes awards and winners and nominations click here