Inspirational young people wanted

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A CONTEST which recognises Cambridgeshire’s young unsung heroes and is endorsed by both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader is back.

Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year awards or the (YOPEYs) has £2,000 in prize money to reward young people, aged 10-25, who are good citizens.

This is the fifth year of YOPEYs in Cambridgeshire but the awards now cover 12 English counties and the whole of Scotland.

More than £120,000 has been won by young people to share with their communities since the awards began in 2006.

This year the awards ceremony will be held in Peterborough for the first time with the city council hosting them at the City’s cathedral in September.

YOPEY is the brainchild of former national journalist Tony Gearing, who became fed up with the ‘bad press’ inflicted on the young. He set up YOPEY to give the younger generation a fairer image and encourage more young people to give to the community.

The country’s leading politicians including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader had endorsed the awards.

Prime Minister David Cameron said of entries: “It struck me that their common trait was their own determination; their desire to succeed; and their resolve to make a difference.”

While Opposition leader Ed Miliband said YOPEY gives a platform to young positive role models adding: “For too long, too many young are falsely portrayed in some sections of our society.”

Mr Gearing commented: “It is rare for politicians from different parties to agree on something and I would like to think it shows the importance of the work we are doing.”

Now communities across Cambridgeshire are being urged to nominate their young unsung heroes for YOPEY 2011.

The kind of things nominees can be doing include:

* Caring for family who maybe ill, disabled of have other problems;

* Helping run a youth club or other organization;

* Looking after abandoned or neglected animals;

* Making communities safer through initiative or behaviour;

* Raising money for charity or other good causes;

* Showing a spirit in adversity that is an example to others;

* Supporting or mentoring someone through a difficult time;

* Volunteering for projects at home or abroad;

* Working with disabled, ill or elderly people;

* And acting heroically.

“The list is actually endless,” said Mr Gearing. “The only requirements are that the entrant is aged 10-25, lives, works or studies in Cambs, and is a positive role model who gives to others.”

The Cambs Young Person of the Year will win £800. Second place will win £400, third £200 and there will be a Junior Cambs Young Person of the Year winning £200.

All winners give half their cash prize to a good cause of their choice and keep half to treat themselves.

To nominate inspirational young people for the Cambs YOPEY, visit www.yopey.org or send an SAE for an entry form to YOPEY, PO Box 236, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 1DP. Young people can nominate themselves. Entries close on May 31.