A Durham University student has won a global award for his efforts in trying to combat energy poverty.
Jeremiah Thoronka, who is from Sierra Leone, has received a one-off prize of 100,000 US dollars.
The 21-year-old, who is currently studying a Master’s degree in sustainability at Durham University, was one of 10 finalists shortlisted for the inaugural Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021.
Mr Thoronka is the first winner of the new sister award to the Global Teacher Prize, which is given to one student who has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.
This year’s Global Teacher Prize, which is worth a million dollars, was won by Keishia Thorpe, an English teacher from the United States.
The pair saw of stiff competition for the two awards, including from a Liverpool school leader and and a postgraduate student at Keele University.
Mr Thoronka from Freetown in Sierra Leone, invented a device that uses kinetic energy from traffic and pedestrians to generate clean power.
During the virtual ceremony broadcast from UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, actor Hugh Jackman congratulated Mr Thoronka as he awarded him the prize.
The Hollywood star said: “You’ve made an enormous difference to your community and far beyond.
“I’m sure that you will now use this incredible platform to make an even bigger impact.”
On receiving the award on Wednesday evening, Mr Thoronka said: “It’s amazing, it’s wonderful.
“Words can’t express how I feel about this.”
French actress Isabelle Huppert announced that Ms Thorpe, who has opened up college education for low-income, first-generation US immigrant and refugee students, was named the winner of the seventh annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
In her winning speech, Ms Thorpe said: “Education is a human right and all children should be entitled to have access to it.
“For this recognition it’s not just about me, but about all the dreamers who work so hard and dare to dream of ending generational poverty.
“This is to encourage every little black boy and girl that looks like me, and every child in the world that feels marginalised and has a story like mine and felt they never matter.”
David Swanston, deputy principal at St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, was one of 10 finalists shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize.
He has been helping pupils with visual impairments for more than a decade and is currently working on the development of rugby specifically for the blind by modelling game play and creating ball prototypes using textures and electronics.
Elliott Lancaster, a postgraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, made the top 10 for the Global Student Prize.
The 24-year-old has been campaigning for mental health, social enterprise, sustainability and a solution to homelessness alongside his studies.