‘Inspirational’ Bournemouth woman who supports young disabled people named YMCA volunteer of the year

Bournemouth Echo: HONOUR: Joely Colmer, centre, the 01 Telecom YMCA volunteer of the year, is presented with her trophy by 01 director Clive Golland and last year’s winner, Jemma Masterson HONOUR: Joely Colmer, centre, the 01 Telecom YMCA volunteer of the year, is presented with her trophy by 01 director Clive Golland and last year’s winner, Jemma Masterson

AN “inspirational” Bournemouth woman who supports young disabled people has been named YMCA’s Volunteer of the Year.

Joely Colmer, 21, was honoured at YMCA England’s national Youth Matters Awards for her dedication to the Chatterbox Project – a youth-led group for disabled young people.

Joely, of Winton, was born with Asperger Syndrome and a range of medical problems, including being partially deaf and unable to speak until she was seven years old.

She began volunteering for YMCA with very low confidence levels and difficulty communicating with others.

However, she is committed to supporting children who are experiencing similar challenges and now participates in local and national events, manages disability awareness workshops and speaks publicly on the issue to raise awareness.

She was presented with her trophy and certificate at Church House in Westminster in front of an audience including the winner of The Voice Leanne Jarvis, MPs, trustees and YMCA young people and staff.

Joely said: “I am honoured, privileged and absolutely delighted to be given this award, although I do believe all the other finalists are as equally deserving.

“My life has totally changed since I got involved with The Chatterbox Project. I am so grateful for all the support I have received by my family and the Chatterbox staff who have both inspired and helped me to pursue my ambitions.

“It feels wonderful to give something back to such a worthwhile organisation and help other young people change their lives for the better.”

Blair Crawford, chief executive at Bournemouth YMCA, said: “We are incredibly proud that Joely has been given this award. She has shown immense talent and an extraordinary amount of courage and determination in transforming the lives of disabled young people at our YMCA. “Joely is a true inspiration and we are honoured to have been able to celebrate her journey so far.”

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