When Northern Ireland YouTube sensation Adam B learned that a local teenager was being bullied at school he leapt into action with a birthday gift of £5,000 worth of tech equipment to help him make more and better videos.
Adam B, aka Adam Beales, reached out to 14-year-old Stewart O’Doherty after reading a tweet from Stewart’s sister Molly about what he was enduring in school.
The 21-year-old YouTube star who has amassed more than 3 million subscribers to his channel said he could relate to what the young man was going through.
“I went through a very similar position to Stewart,” Adam explained.
“I know exactly what he’s going through. And the main message in making the video and giving the gifts will be to highlight bullying and the huge negative effects it has on kids.”
Stewart started his channel about a year ago but really began making regular YouTube content during lockdown, and when he returned to school the online bullying followed the Derry teen.
“When we went back to school in September, the physical bullying started,” said Stewart.
“At first it started with sly comments, but then it grew to people physically throwing stuff at me.
“I didn’t give up on the idea of YouTubing, but I didn’t upload much because of what was happening.”
Stewart’s plight came out when he told his 18-year-old sister Molly.
“When Stewart told me I was absolutely livid,” she said. I was so annoyed with myself because I hadn’t been able to do anything to help but it was only because I didn’t know.
“Stewart just loved doing his YouTube channel – it was just silly wee things like challenges and that type of thing. He just enjoyed it. He wasn’t doing any harm and it certainly was no reason for him to be bullied.”
Molly tweeted about the bullying and caught the attention of Blue Peter presenter Adam B.
“The tweet has gone viral with huge support from other content creators like myself,” explained Adam.
“However, what Stewart didn’t know is that I would be surprising him on his birthday with a video message.”
As Stewart chatted to his YouTube idol on FaceTime he was told to look outside where Adam was waiting with the tech package of gifts.
“I gave Stewart a laptop, cameras, mics, speakers, GoPros, tripods, a segway, airpods, smart watch, headphones, computer mouse, a camera gimbal plus a few other gadgets to help him on his YouTube journey,” said Adam.
“I wanted to give him these gadgets so that he could have a kickstart on YouTube and something to show the bullies that he doesn’t need to listen to them.”
And, Stewart is now even more determined to keep making content.
“There are no words for me to say what I want to Adam. He’ll never know what he’s done for me,” he said.
“He’s given me back my confidence and I know now that I can pursue – and fulfil – my dream.”
However, he also had a word for his bullies.
“I’d like to thank the people who bullied me,” said Stewart.
“I’d like to say to them, ‘Thank you’, because, without them, I would never have been able to meet my idol, Adam B.
“I’d also like to tell them that bullying someone for doing what they love to do doesn’t make you a better person.”
That same determination was what spurred Adam on when he was the victim of bullying at school.
“I started doing YouTube in 2012 periodically until 2015 when I devoted a lot of my time to it.
“Being in an all-boy school, back when there were no big Northern Irish YouTubers to look up to – it was very difficult to stay on that path.
“It was difficult to keep believing when everyone else was talking about you, making fun, calling you names as you walked past them in school corridors. It was horrible and I wish it on no one. Therefore, Stewart’s case hit a nerve. I know exactly what he is going through.”
It got so bad that Adam was close to quitting YouTube.
“I was very close to giving up so many times when I was at school,” he said.
“Being told by both pupils and even teachers to stop YouTube – it was a very stressful environment.
“It was an environment where I asked myself multiple times, ‘is it even worth it?’, ‘is it worth the hassle?’
“But I am very glad I didn’t give them the satisfaction because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had listened to them.”
Since then Adam has been garnering more and more YouTube subscribers, as well as more than 500,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok with his witty pranks and sketches, yet he still remembers the acts of the bullies.
“Sometimes they text me,” he said.
“I often got random texts from people who relentlessly ashamed me for doing YouTube – and now they’re the ones texting me, congratulating me.
“Anyone who made fun of me or made me feel insecure for doing something I loved, I would say to them ‘why”, ‘what did they get from it’, ‘Are you happy’.
“I would ask these questions because I am still baffled as to why people feel the need to mentally/physically/emotionally attack others for something that doesn’t even affect them. It boggles my brain and it’s a thing that needs stamped out. No one should ever tolerate bullying. No one.”
And, he has a message for the people bullying Stewart.
“Don’t underestimate anyone,” he said. “The people you bully could very well be the people you need a job from in the future.”
He went on with a message for everyone who has a dream.
“Believe in yourself. If I can do it, then you can do it. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
For those who have a dream of becoming a YouTube star he said support from friends and family can make a huge difference.
“Encourage them. Encourage, encourage, encourage! It massively helps when the only thing they’re used to is negativity.”
If you or someone you know is being bullied don’t be afraid to talk to an adult or contact Childline.org.uk on 0800 1111. For more information about how you can tackle bullying adults can go to endbullying.org.uk
Action Plan for the Return of Driving Tests
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today confirmed action plans for a priority booking system for driving tests following the Executive’s decision to reinstate practical driving tests from 23 April 2021.
Between now and 26 April, those customers affected by the restrictions and who had their appointments cancelled and fee refunded will be advised by the DVA how they can book a new test date before the booking system will open in three phases:
PHASE 1: The booking system for Phase 1 customers, whose theory test pass certificates will expire by 31 October 2021, will open from 26 April.
PHASE 2: The booking system for Phase 2 customers, whose theory test pass certificates will expire between 1 November 2021 and 31 March 2022, will then open from 4 May 2021.
PHASE 3: The DVA is set to reopen the booking service for all other customers in mid-May and they will issue further communications through nidirect and social media channels, and write to all Approved Driving Instructors to confirm the process and the exact date.
The DVA will contact Phase 1 and Phase 2 customers directly to advise them when they can access the booking system.
Keep Safe, Minimise Disruption
Minister Mallon said: “My priority during this crisis continues to be to keep customers and staff safe while minimising disruption. Practical driving tests along with other close contact services have been disrupted due to the Executive regulations introduced to help stop the spread of Covid-19. These are challenging times for us all and I appreciate the frustrations felt by learner drivers who have been unable to take their practical driving tests during this time.
“To mitigate the impact on customers due to the cessation of practical driving tests, I brought forward legislation to extend the validity of theory test pass certificates. As I announced in January, bookings for driving tests will be prioritised based on the expiry dates of theory test pass certificates. I can confirm that the booking service will open in three phases between now and the middle of May and it is right and fair that priority is given to those who have been waiting for the longest time.
“The DVA has, and continues, to work hard to maximise the availability of test slots and plans to release additional slots in May, June and July to provide further capacity.
“The DVA continues to increase its capacity by recruiting additional examiners and will be offering evening appointments as we move into spring and the brighter nights. The DVA will continue to offer driving tests on a Saturday and driving tests for Heavy Goods Vehicles on Sundays where it is suitable to do so without compromising the integrity of the test. Overtime will also be used to rota off-shift dual role driving examiners to provide further capacity.
“All driving test services across these islands are experiencing high demand with longer than usual waiting times, like all public facing services, the Covid restrictions mean that the DVA has had to adapt its services to ensure that they can be provided safely. The Department, the DVA and I remain committed to minimising disruption and ensuring our plan for the restoration of services is in hand, and most importantly remain committed to protecting the lives of staff and customers during this pandemic.”
The theory test provider has confirmed that theory tests will resume from 23 April 2021. Customers can book appointments through the online theory test booking system, with priority initially being given to customers whose tests have been affected by the suspension of theory test services due to Covid-19 restrictions. These customers have been contacted with details of how to reschedule their appointment. The DVA is working closely with the theory test provider to ensure that additional theory test appointments are made available, through a combination of extended opening hours at the six existing theory test centres here and the opening of an additional temporary centre in Ballymena.
Update on Current NI Restrictions
The Executive has today agreed a package of relaxations to the current Coronavirus Health Regulations.
From April 23:
- Resumption of driving instruction and theory tests;
- Driving testing can resume;
- Re-opening of close contact services including training;
- Re-opening of outdoor visitor attractions including outdoor activity centres;
- Resumption of Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning (EATL) on an indoor and outdoor basis in gatherings of up to 30 people;
- Outdoor sport organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated will be extended to include squad training;
- Competitive outdoor sport organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated, with participant numbers not exceeding 100 and no spectators permitted can return and
- Static band practice/rehearsal will be permitted in agreed outdoor locations.
From 30 April:
- Increase the numbers permitted to gather in Domestic Setting Outdoors – to 15 people from no more than 3 households;
- Reopen all of retail;
- Reopen and permit overnight stays in self-contained tourist accommodation for one household only;
- Reopen unlicensed premises, outdoors only with a maximum of 6 people from 2 households per table and contact details recorded;
- Reopen licensed premises, including social clubs, outdoors only, limited to 6 people from no more than 2 households and contact details recorded;
- Remove the curfew on takeaways;
- Remove the curfew on off licences; and
- Permit individual activities in gyms, swimming pools and other large venues – including with a carer and to allow 1-2-1 training/coaching with social distancing.
An indicative date of May 24 for:
- Reopening unlicensed and licensed premises indoors with mitigations;
- Reopening the remainder of Tourist accommodation;
- Allowing visits indoors in domestic settings;
- Reopening indoor visitor attractions; and
- Resume indoor group exercise and training in numbers limited to suit the venue.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a landmark day for Northern Ireland as we step firmly and with confidence on our pathway to recovery.
“I am pleased and proud that through our collective efforts we have reached a point where we have established a good level of control over the virus.
“We are now entering brighter and better times.
“This balanced package of relaxations will restore those familiar aspects of everyday life that have been missed dearly.
“I urge everyone to stay with us and keep following the health advice so that we can continue with our plans to more fully open up our society over coming weeks.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Today, the light at the end of the tunnel has just got a little bit brighter.
“This is a day of positive progress. We have agreed a significant package of easements which will make a fundamental difference to people’s lives and wellbeing.
“The restrictions have been a necessary response to the pandemic, to suppress the virus and save lives.
“But they have taken their toll on people right across our society. I’m delighted that we are now in a position to move forward, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the public and the success of our vaccination programme.
“We can all take comfort from this progress and look forward to doing the things that are important to us while keeping ourselves and others as safe as possible.”
The next formal review of the Coronavirus regulations under the Pathway out of Restrictions will be carried out on May 13, 2021.