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A 24-year-old former drug dealer from Eccles has won the 2012 Urban Hero of the Year award.
Paul Dixie's dramatic turnaround story was celebrated – along with five others – at a glitzy red carpet awards event at Lancashire County Cricket Ground hosted by Manchester youth charity The Message Trust on Saturday night (30 June).
Paul had already been named winner of the Achiever Award earlier in the evening for his powerful story of overcoming drug abuse and leaving behind a life of crime and destruction (see more details below).
He was presented with the Urban Hero of the Year 2012 award by Sir Brian Souter, chairman of Stagecoach Group.
Dignitaries, including Chief Constable Peter Fahy and top businessmen Bob Edmiston, lavished praise on the winners who have most impressed the charity in its face to face work with thousands of young people over the last year.
Each inspirational story was told through a moving short film before the award winner took to the stage to receive their trophy to the applause of more than 800 guests including family and friends.
This was the fifth annual Urban Hero Awards hosted by The Message Trust, aimed at recognising the finest achievements of young people from across Greater Manchester and beyond.
Every award winner had an inspirational story of triumph over adversity and their stories demonstrate how young people are making a positive difference in the lives of others in their community.
The award winners were drawn from The Message Trust's work among the hardest-to-reach young people in schools, communities and prisons. Each year the charity is in contact with more than 100,000 young people in Greater Manchester and other urban centres including Sheffield and Bradford.
URBAN HERO AWARDS 2012
Winners’ stories – as detailed by The Message Trust:
The Special Award for Enterprise – Adam Fountain
Adam was one of South Manchester’s most feared young men, involved in a life of intimidation, violent crime and drug and alcohol abuse from an early age. Following a threat against his life, Adam fled to the North East in 2010. But his problems followed him and he ended up facing two charges of assault during a drunken rampage.
Narrowly avoiding a hefty prison sentence, Adam was sent to do community service on the site of The Message Trust’s new Enterprise Centre. There, he got chatting to staff who helped him make a serious attempt to get his life back on track. He found a supportive church community and threw himself into helping others.
Over the last few months, Adam has pursued his dream of setting up a small property maintenance business employing other hard-to-reach young men including ex-offenders. His entrepreneurial spirit is a picture of what we hope to achieve with the Message Enterprise Centre.