New university award remembers 'highly regarded' Hartlepool community champion

A student’s “outstanding” work has earned her an award in memory of a Hartlepool woman who was passionate about working with young people.

Michelle Payne, from South Tyneside, was chosen for her outstanding performance across all areas of the community and youth work programme at Sunderland University after graduating with first class honours.

The first Teresa Driver Memorial Prize was made in memory of the Hartlepool youth worker who sadly passed away last summer aged just 48.

Teresa graduated from the university in 2008 with a degree in community and youth work studies and went on to become a key partner with the programme through her role as youth and community services co-ordinator at The Annexe, a youth facility run by the Wharton Trust, in Hartlepool.

Michelle Payne with Kayleigh and Michael Driver. Picture DAVID WOOD

The university, Teresa’s family and the Wharton Trust have organised the annual prize to be presented to an outstanding student who reflects Teresa’s devotion to supporting young people and communities.

Michelle, 40, said: “I feel incredibly honoured to receive this award from Teresa's family.

“Although I did not know Teresa personally, she was highly regarded among my fellow students who carried out their work placements at The Annex.

“Teresa not only studied and supported the course, but she was also pivotal within her community. This is so inspiring and a quality and ethos that I will always strive towards.”

Community champion Teresa Driver.

As well as supervising many students from the course on placement at The Annexe, Teresa supported the programme in other ways, including as an external member of the Programme Studies Board.

Michelle was presented with the honour by Teresa’s daughter, Kayleigh, and son, Michael.

Kayleigh said: “I think my mam’s most notable achievements can't be found in her degrees or awards. They can be seen and are felt the most within the communities she worked with, grew with, and strived for. I'm so impressed by her achievements.

“I feel that the University of Sunderland was one part of my mam's life she loved and enjoyed the most, despite all the course work."

She added "I will always remember the times she did the weekly shop at 10pm and other times when she got up at 1am to finish her essays and I am so proud of my mam and everything she achieved within the community.”

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