Stabbing victim's pride at winning award named in honour of murdered Bulwell teen
A man who turned his life around after being violently attacked has described the ‘honour’ of winning an award named in memory of a murdered Bulwell teenager.
Akil Johnson-Richards has won the Lyrico Steede Award, which was created to recognise a young person who may have been involved in gangs, knife crime or any other forms of criminality but has made significant progress and is inspiring others to make positive decisions and better life choices.
Akil and Lyrico were friends and Lyrico’s mother Keishaye Steede selected Akil as the winner of the category.
After his horrific experience as a victim of violence in Nottingham last year, Akil chose to channel his focus into a cooking project.
He now teaches young people how to cook and also provides meals for vulnerable people, and gives surplus food packages to low income households, all through a project called International Flavours, part of a social enterprise he founded, called Go Vision.
It is for this reason that he has been recognised by Nottinghamshire Police’s Live Our Best Life Awards programme, launched as part of its Stephen Lawrence Day celebrations.
Akil said: “I felt overwhelmed to have won the award as I knew Lyrico personally and I’m sure he’s proud of my achievements and aspirations.
“I was inspired (to become a chef) after seeing people who do not have adequate access to food.
"I wanted to cook meals for people to show them they don’t have to limit themselves on their quality of dietary choices.
Lyrico’s mum Keishaye commented: “I decided to choose Akil because I see beautiful potential.
"I love how he decided to take his experience and pour into himself and bring out the best of his ability in providing a solid healthy foundation for himself.
“He could’ve decided to go down a dark path, but instead he chose light.
"That is how I always saw my son Lyrico Steede.
“So in his honour I am blessed to have the opportunity to stand by and witness Akil exemplify such great, heroic character.
“God bless you young man, keep up the good work.”
Nottinghamshire Police launched the Live Our Best Life Awards programme as part of its Stephen Lawrence Day celebrations, to recognise the talents and achievements of young people across Nottinghamshire.
Akil was nominated for the Lyrico Steede Award by his friend and mentor Dominique Carver-Smith.
Dominique said: “Akil has never used what happened to him as an excuse to retaliate and nor has it deterred him from achieving his life goals.
“He deserves this award as he is actively encouraging young people who are living in deprived communities and may have been involved in criminal pasts to increase their career aspirations and develop new skills.”
Akil added: “My message to young people is for them to focus on their futures and positive outcomes but I appreciate that is easier said than done.
“I’d also recommend people look to change their group of friends if they are bad influence on them - but again, that is easier than it sounds.”
“I would like to give thanks to Keishaye for choosing me to win this award.
“This gives me motivation and willpower to do better in life – it really is an honour.”