Inspirational Lyla among nominees shortlisted for the Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2024: Lyla Bell

14 May 2024

Inspirational Lyla among nominees shortlisted for the Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2024

Children Child Friendly Leeds

An inspirational 10-year-old who refuses to let a debilitating health condition stop her from living life to the full, is among the shortlist of nominees announced today for the Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2024.

Lyla Bell, from Thorpe, who was born with the genetic disorder Cystic Fibrosis, is one of the finalists for the prestigious awards, which are back for the ninth time to showcase the talent, achievements and energy of the city’s children and young people.

From a total of 300 nominations, 36 have now been shortlisted across seven categories which celebrate the people, places and organisations that have helped make Leeds a child-friendly city.

The winners will officially be announced at an awards ceremony in July at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall.

Lyla was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at just six weeks old and despite a gruelling daily treatment regime, her family say she is “determined” to succeed and be just like her friends.

The life-limiting, chronic condition affects a protein in the body and causes a sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system.

For Lyla, it means taking at least 30 tablets throughout the morning, meal times, and evening as well as daily aerobic exercise and a night-time breathing device to help clear her lungs.

But proud mum Michelle Bell said Lyla does not let the condition hold her back.

“She has had a lifetime of medication, physiotherapy and medical appointments but is determined, very independent and wants to be like everyone else.

“When she was first diagnosed, it was really tough, really negative. We were just told what not to do – don’t go where there are large crowds, don’t go to the farm, don’t have bath toys, don’t have dirty taps, you can’t go in playgrounds, can’t go to nursery.

“But we had a really supportive nurse who was very much like ‘you have to live your life’, and that whatever we do will come with risks and to see how we get on.”

Today, Lyla is an active member of 1st Lofthouse Brownies, racking up as many badges as she can, and enjoys playing cricket with East Ardsley Cricket Club, which helps meet her exercise needs.

Michelle said: “She’s supposed to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day so we try to keep her physically active and find it easier to do it in a group setting. She loves being part of the cricket team and it’s been really good for her.”

The Robin Hood Primary school pupil has also raised over £1,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust from mini challenge activities during lockdown to making and selling clay jewellery with a friend last summer.

She also continues to raise awareness of her condition wherever she can, including by supporting the charity’s annual Wear Yellow Day and speaking at school during Invisible Disabilities Week.

Lyla is nominated in the ‘Child/Young Person of the Year’ category at the awards. She said she was “pleased and happy” to be nominated and added: “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have CF because I don’t like all the tablets, physio and appointments, especially the blood tests. But CF is a part of me so I wouldn’t be me without it.”

Also nominated in the same category is Aiden Reilly, 17, for his work in junior football;  brothers Daniyaal, 16 and Abdullah Ashfaq, 15, who set up a charity Women's Whispers with their mother; James Tortice, 11, who regularly raises funds and awareness of ADHD and Leigh-Taylor Arundale, 16, who has fundraised for numerous charities since the age of five.

The previous Child Friendly Leeds Awards were held in 2022 – a year which also marked the 10th anniversary of the Child Friendly Leeds Initiative and saw King Charles III unveil a special plaque at Leeds Central Library in honour of the occasion.

The ceremony for this year’s awards night is currently being planned by a group of young people who, together with a team at Leeds Heritage Theatres, are working on all details from the design of the trophies and decorations to script-writing and selecting young performers to take to the stage on the night. 

Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s social care and health partnerships, said:

“Since 2012 our ambition is for Leeds to be the best city for all our children and young people to grow up in.

“Becoming a child friendly city is not something, we, as a council can do alone.

“There are so many people across the city who have really taken on board what we are trying to achieve and are an inspiration in themselves. These awards are a great opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate their great work and achievements.”

The Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2024 are sponsored by aql, First Direct Arena, Hamara, Leeds Bid, The Grammar School at Leeds, Trinity Leeds, University of Leeds and White Rose Shopping Centre.

All nominees were shortlisted based on a scoring system and presented to judges on a children’s panel and an adults' panel to decide on the winners.

Steven Foster, Centre Director at Trinity Leeds and White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “The work that Child Friendly Leeds does to make our city a better place for young people and families is vital, and we’re pleased to continue working together towards this goal as ambassadors at Trinity Leeds and White Rose.

“Taking part in the awards judging and seeing the incredible projects across Leeds is inspiring, and we look forward to celebrating each and every nominee at this year’s ceremony.”

Full shortlist of nominees for the Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2024 is below.

For more information on each nominee, visit the Child Friendly Leeds website.

Category: Child/young person of the year

  • Aiden Reilly (age 17)
  • Daniyaal and Abdullah Ashfaq (age 16 and 15)
  • James Tortice (age 11)
  • Leigh-Taylor Arundale (age 16)
  • Lyla Bell (age 10)

Category: Youth group of the year

  • CATCH Leeds
  • Holbeck Moor Junior Football Club
  • Leeds Dynamite Dance
  • Leeds Young Carers Engaged, Active, Participating (LEAP) Family Action
  • Youth Association – Community Ambassadors

Category: Adult making a difference for children and young people

  • Deborah Gregory-Hoskins
  • Margaret Duffill
  • Jan Furlong
  • Maria Amuesi
  • WEST SILC Powerhouse and Rob Lakewood

Category: Leeds 2023: Creativity through Arts and Culture

  • Brave Words
  • Dazl
  • Tutti Frutti Productions
  • Union of Dance
  • Slung Low

Category: Exceptional contribution to the Child Friendly Leeds 12 Wishes

  • Renaissance Nurseries
  • The British Library
  • Park Square Barristers
  • Wigton Moor Primary School
  • Youthwatch

Category: Best place for children and young people

  • Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm
  • Getaway Girls
  • Little Movers West Leeds
  • Circus Leeds
  • Puffin Pottery

Category: Overall contribution to making Leeds a child friendly city

  • The Vine Child Contact Centre
  • ZigZag Autism Support Group
  • Freedom 4 Girls
  • Playful Anywhere
  • Leeds Rhinos & Rhinos Foundation

Notes to editors: 

The Child Friendly Leeds initiative is currently focused on an action plan of ’12 wishes for the city’, from priorities identified though a city-wide survey which captured the views of 80,000 children and young people.

Leeds City Council is always looking for new Child Friendly Leeds Ambassadors who want to help make a difference to children and young people in Leeds. To find out more and how to get involved, visit


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