Top of the class at helping others

Evie Allen
Evie Allen

Three Linslade pupils who have helped others in the school and community have been nominated for Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Young People of the Year.

Staff at Cedars Upper School in Mentmore Road think that Evie Allen, Dominique Morgan and Tom Payne are top of the class when it comes to volunteering their services and going that extra mile to benefit others. So the staff have given them good reports and ticked off their names for a contest which has £2,000 to give to people like them.

There were Young People of the Year contests or YOPEYs in Bedfordshire from 2006 to 2010. There was not a Beds YOPEY in 2011 because of the recession, but now the search is on again to reveal, recognise and reward the county¹s young heroes of 2012.

Any young person aged 10-25, who is a positive role model and gives to others, can enter. They can be nominated by anyone who knows them or nominate themselves.

The winner will receive £800 but there will be many other prizes from a prize pot of £2,000 put up by sponsors, including The Jordans & Ryvita Company of Holme Mills, Biggleswade, and Woodfines Solicitors of Bedford and Sandy.

Sixteen-year-old Evie was nominated by Tania Foreman, pastoral support assistant for Lena House at the school.

She said that Evie, who likes sprinting and hockey, is a young sports leader who went to five local middle schools supporting sports events and assisting with coaching and also helped at sports day.

She plays the cello in the school orchestra which supports community events, including Remembrance Sunday in the town. She is also a member of Bedford Sinfonia.

Evie is a young leader with the lst Linslade Scout and Beaver Group in Mowbray Drive, volunteering for three hours a week on Thursdays and Fridays and at weekend camps.

“I like helping the boys and girls. I’m the youngest of the leaders and they can relate to me,” she said. She particularly helps on a one-to-one basis a young Beaver who has learning difficulties and has made a breakthrough in communications with him.

“Normally he looks at the floor when he talks to somebody rather than face to face, but I have talked to him a lot and he has started to look at me directly when he’s talking to me. His parents said he is now communicating better.”

During the summer holidays she spent two days a week for four weeks helping pre-school children with various activities in Community House on Sandhills Estate. This helped contribute to her VInspired certificate for 50 hours’ volunteering and she has nearly got her 100 hours certificate.

Evie also spent two days a week for four weeks helping in the town’s library, stacking shelves and presenting prizes to youngsters on a reading project.

“I like trying to help people, particularly youngsters with problems they may have,” she said.

Tania said: “Evie happily and willingly does these various activities because she enjoys doing them and feels they are worthwhile rather than seeking any limelight. She is very committed to making time to volunteer her services for different causes.”

Eighteen-year-old Dominique Morgan was nominated by Sally Berrisford, head of Orinoco House.

She said that Dominique organised with others Oxjam gigs which raised £2,600 in total, half for the Oxfam charity, and half for the school’s music department.

Dominique was one of the organisers of Help Week in November put on by the sixth form, which included talent competitions and entertainment shows every lunchtime.

Dominique worked hard, stage managing the shows and supervising the lighting and technical teams. “I want to go into events management so I wanted to get some experience,” she said.

The efforts enabled them to give £1,000 each to Autism Bedfordshire, Hula Animal Rescue, and East of England Ambulance, plus another eight donations of £50 and one of £100 to smaller local charities.

Dominique is also a member of the anti-bullying group which drew up the school’s policy on dealing with bullying. She is also a member of the school council which liaises with staff and represents pupils’ views on subjects such as school uniform and the school day. She also works with younger members of the school dance company and has helped devise choreography for some routines.

“Dominique is prepared to take responsibility and get stuck in to get things done,” said Sally. “She always goes the extra mile and puts in huge efforts.”

Dominique added: “I feel it is important to get involved with different school activities. We are all quite privileged so it’s important to help charities and other good causes.”

Dominique’s efforts have been against the backdrop of her mother, Yvonne, a single mum, recovering from treatment for breast cancer three years ago. In addition, she recently lost her uncle Roger, with whom she was very close, after a two-year battle against pancreatic cancer.

“It’s been a tough time, but it’s important to help others,” she said.

Seventeen-year-old Tom was put forward by Debbie Adams, head of maths, for the way that he works with younger pupils.

Tom has a maths leader qualification and although he is studying for his A-levels gives up an hour a week of his spare time when he goes into classes in Years 9 to 11 and encourages pupils with their maths.

“If a pupil is not finding maths easy or switched on by the subject Tom is able to cajole them in a light-hearted way to make sure that they understand,” said Debbie.

“His age helps. He’s on their wavelength and they feel able to relate to him. The younger pupils respect him.

“Tom has had the most positive demeanour about him at all times and he is never seen without a smile on his face. He is always very willing to give his time and energy to what ever others ask of him.”

Tom enjoys maths because he likes solving problems. “It’s good to be able to help the younger pupils with their maths,” he said. “I feel I’m being useful and giving something back to the school community.”

Tom is going for his gold Duke of Edinburgh award. For his community service section he spent four days in the summer with the Mencap holiday club helping a 13-year-old boy with learning difficulties. This involved being a buddy to him on trips to an ice-rink, ski-ing on an artificial slope and rock-climbing. “That felt really good,” he said. “I like helping people.”

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “Top marks for effort to Evie, Dominique and Tom for the way they are giving up their time to help others, both in school or in their local community.”

YOPEY is endorsed by the leaders of all three main political parties.

All YOPEY prizes are shared with the community. So the Beds Young Person of the Year will win £800 ­(£400 for themselves and £400 for their good cause), second place will win £400, similarly shared. There will be many other prizes.

This year’s Beds YOPEY is supported by Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service, The Jordans & Ryvita Company, Woodfines Solicitors. Movianto UK, logistical company to the pharmaceutical industry with warehouses in Bedford, William Jackson Food Group, whose factories include Parripak in Chicksands, Blue Arrow recruitment services in Bedford, Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust, Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, Simon Whitbread Trust and Gayles Family Trust.

The University of Bedfordshire will be hosting the awards at its professional theatre in Bedford in December.

To nominate, logon on to or write to YOPEY, PO Box 236, Newmarket, CB8 1DP, enclosing an SAE, for paper entry form. Entries close on October 31.