Gentleman Frank in Yopey final

Frank Etherington who has nominated for a Yopey award
Frank Etherington who has nominated for a Yopey award
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A YOUNG Wisbech sportsman, who is a shining example of how young people can build on their sporting passion to help their club to more than just victories, has won through to the final of Cambridgeshire Constabulary Young People of the Year.

Eleven-year-old Frank Etherington is not only a dedicated and talented junior player for Wisbech Rugby Club, but he has also raised over £1,000 for the Chapel Lane club through his off-the-field efforts.

His father Shaun, who nominated his son for YOPEY, said: “Frank has shown that hard work, giving and respect for others does not begin and end on the rugby field. He is a young gentleman.”

Now Frank, the rest of his family and supporters from the club are off to Ely Cathedral on Wednesday 3rd October for him to compete in the 2012 YOPEY final against other young positive role models from across Cambridgeshire.

He is the youngest finalist in a field that includes a top air cadet, young carers, anti-smoking campaigners and previously troubled young people who have turned their lives around.

Frank’s latest fundraising activity saw him become the youngest person to complete a full marathon in the Peak District. The Leaden Boot Marathon includes a grueling ascent up a 5,800ft hill ­ that’s over a mile high ­ in its 26.2 miles. Frank completed the course, accompanied by his 45-year-old father in an impressive nine hours 53 minutes and raised £400 for his club at the same time.

“I was just so relieved when I had completed the marathon, I felt like I deserved the sponsor money,” said Frank, who attends Orchard CE school in Wisbech.

But, of course, he did not keep the sponsor money. He used it to buy a much-needed baby-changing table for the club.

Frank also fundraises by rattling a bucket during special games, collecting donations for the sport he loves. He will also do things for the club that do not raise money, from painting the clubhouse to handing out oranges at half-time.

Proud dad Shaun said: “Frank’s decision to spend the money on a drop-down baby-changing facility at Wisbech Rugby Club was all his idea.”

uch a carefully chosen way to spend the money shows an understanding, awareness and maturity beyond Frank¹s years. Frank’s decision was influenced by talking to senior players who said they had problems bringing their babies and toddlers to the club.

Frank, his team-mates and the wider Wisbech rugby community hope the new facility will enable more people to join the club.

Although Frank’s under-12s season this year has seen his greatest fundraising total, his giving endeavours stretch back to his first campaign as an under-8s player.

He is a widely recognised figure within the club and can be seen every Saturday watching the first team and collecting glasses in the bar.

“Frank’s love for rugby and for Wisbech club itself is infectious ­ the whole family now participates in some way,” said Shaun.

Indeed, Frank’s mother is now heavily involved in the club’s catering department while his father has become club chairman. His two older sisters also help out.

The family’s contribution to the club is down to Frank’s passion and commitment. His father became involved in the club after Frank began playing.

“I wanted to give something back to all the coaches and people in the club. Without them, there would be no rugby,” said Frank.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “In our culture where simply sports participation itself is encouraged, Frank has shown that a passion for sport does not have to be only self-serving. Sport, as demonstrated by Frank, can be beneficial to both his team-mates and wider club. Now he¹s off to Ely Cathedral to see if he can win some YOPEY prize money for the club.²”

Chief Constable Simon Parr said: “YOPEY is an important way of recognising the extraordinary efforts of remarkable young people within our community.

All the nominees are role models and show what can be done with the right determination to succeed.”

The Cambs Young Person of the Year will win £800 ­ £400 for themselves and £400 for their good cause. If Frank wins he will share his winnings with Wisbech Rugby Club. Second place will win £400, similarly shared. There will be many other prizes.

This year’s Cambs YOPEY is supported by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Fenstanton communications company Ferrier Pearce, Cambridge world leader in wireless technology CSR, Wisbech crop production specialists Hutchinsons, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge computer chip designers ARM, Trumpington patent attorneys Stratagem IPM, Melbourn technology consultants TTP Group, St Neots nutrition products company LifePlus and Bidwells property consultants.