Headboy Tim is nominated for Yopey award for charity work

Tim Abington
Tim Abington

The head boy of a Linslade school who has volunteered over 150 hours to help pupils fundraise for good causes is in a competition that hails the ‘giving to others’ of Bedfordshire’s younger generation.

Tim Abington, 17, has been heavily involved in many events and activities at Cedars Upper, most notably as one of the main organisers of a week-long charity event that raised £3,500 for a school in Africa.

Beds Yopey 2017

Beds Yopey 2017

As well as his commitments to his school, Tim is also a young leader for the Tilbridge Beaver group, which takes up his spare time outside school.

Now he has been nominated for the Atlas Converting Young People of the Year awards or ‘YOPEYs’ – Oscars for young people who ‘give to others’.

The annual contest has over £1,000 to be won by Bedfordshire young people who ‘give to others’. There will be at least two Beds Young People of the Year. A senior YOPEY, aged 17-25, winning £500, and a junior YOPEY, aged 10-16, winning £300. Either prize can be won by an individual or group and the winners have to invest most of their winnings in their good cause but can keep £100 to treat themselves. There will also be several £100 runners-up prizes.

Tim, of Regent Street, Leighton Buzzard, was nominated for the award by his teacher Ashley Calloway.

She said: “Tim is one of those boys who doesn’t realise how special he is. He went from Head of House to Head Boy and did a sterling job.

“This may not be worthy of nomination on its own but the 156 hours of voluntary work inside the school over the past year as well as helping at a weekly Beaver scout group, while still managing to get As and A* predicted in A-Levels, is absolutely amazing.

“He was one of the main organisers of Help Week where four charities are selected by the school so money can be raised for them. One of the main charities was Humanity First and Tim did a great job of researching the charity, meeting with its representatives and helping to raise money for it.

“Tim is an unassuming young man who always works his hardest. He is a good all-rounder who was pleased as punch to even be nominated for the award.”

Tim found helping to organise Help Week stressful and hard to juggle with all his other commitments, but ultimately very rewarding. He said: “When Help Week began to take centre stage at school, it took a huge amount of commitment from me.

“What I felt was the most rewarding aspect of selecting Humanity First is that we were actually able to see the difference that our small amount made.

“Our £3,500 fundraising efforts are small in the grand scale of international development, but, to be able to see the paint appear on the classroom walls and the books filling the bookshelves in a school on the Ivory Coast really made a horrendously stressful period worthwhile.

“Help Week was a stressful time for me because of the limited time and pressure, especially as record fundraising last year made it quite a high bar to meet. To complicate matters, I was also preparing for an interview with the University of Cambridge around the same time.

“My Beaver colony is brilliant. I’m currently a young leader and hope to become section assistant in the summer. Then I can help run activities and programmes for the group.

“Tilbridge is the group I started with when I was young and I really grew up with them and it’s great to remain part of something that I got so much out of.

“I find Beavers so rewarding because I can pass on my skills to younger people – even if it is just how to tie a shoelace.

“Also, to see a young person develop from crying for their mum when they first start to leading others on hikes and camps is really an awe-inspiring experience.”

Tim assists leader Andrea Wears in running a group of 19 six- to eight-year-olds Beavers on a weekly basis.

Andrea said: “I have known Tim since he was four-years-old as a friend of my sons and he started at the Beavers when he was six. He has always been a lovely boy who was always willing to help the leaders.

“When he moved up to the Cubs I missed him, so I was over the moon when he asked me if he could come back as a young leader and I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“He is an absolute asset to our leadership team in Beavers because he runs and plans activities, reassures new Beavers and he fits in so well with the team. He has been with us for three years and when he goes to university in September he is going to be really missed by the Beavers and the leaders.”

Although Tim is currently busy studying for his A-Level exams, he still finds time to work on two additional campaigns at his school.

He added: “Currently, I’m working on two campaigns for Cedars – the first is a motion to implement a confidential mobile number for our student support centre so that students can text or phone with concerns instead of facing the daunting prospect of seeing a teacher face to face.

“The second is the campaign for workers’ rights. We’re aiming to make every student currently in part-time employment aware of what they’re entitled to. We’ve organised outside speakers, posters and leaflets to make sure that none of our students are exploited in their workplace.”

As a past editor and political columnist for the school paper, Tim has a huge interest in journalism. He hopes to pursue a career in this field once he graduates from university.

YOPEY has been praised by national leaders including by the new Education Secretary for seeking out ‘ordinary’ young people who contribute “something extraordinary to their communities”.

Justine Greening MP said: “The awards provide an inspiration for other young people – and for adults – that even in difficult circumstances young people can find ways to help others and change the world around them.”

YOPEY started in Bedfordshire in 2006 and has expanded to many other counties. Its founder, former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing, said: “There are many young people in Bedfordshire doing wonderful things for others. It’s just that they live in the shadow of a well-publicised anti-social minority.

“We need to give young people the respect they deserve and set up the best as positive role models for others to copy rather than focusing on the small number who appear in the press for negative reasons.”

About Tim, Tony, who is himself a former journalist, said: “Tim sounds like the sort of person the media needs more of. He has a social conscience as well as being a good organiser.”

As well as Atlas Converting, which is based in Wolseley Road, Kempston, this year’s Beds YOPEY is sponsored by the county’s fire & rescue service and recruitment company Guidant Group.

The Bedfordshire awards will be presented at St John’s College, Cambridge, this autumn when a joint ceremony with Cambridgeshire young people will be held. Each county will have its own winners.

> Do you know somebody who deserves the title Young Person of the Year? To nominate logon to yopey.org or write, enclosing a stamped-addressed-envelope, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form. Entries close on July 31.

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in Bedfordshire. But they do not have to meet all three conditions. They could go to school, college or university in Beds but live elsewhere and vice versa.

Typical entries include fundraisers, young carers, club leaders, volunteers on projects at home or abroad and young leaders who pass on academic or sporting skills. YOPEY is always revealing new positive role models and the qualification for entry is easy – simply, the young person has to ‘give to others’.

Schools, youth organisations, churches and charities across Herts are being urged to nominate their young people. If their nominee wins, they can share the prize money. Family and friends can also nominate but they cannot win prize money. Young people can even nominate themselves.