Shannon is first Fenland YOPEY nominee

Shannon Barrow, YOPEY entrant ANL-140417-110528001
Shannon Barrow, YOPEY entrant ANL-140417-110528001

A March teenager who likes to take the lead and organise events has been nominated in a Cambridgeshire-wide competition that celebrates the achievements of young people.

Shannon Barrow, of Marsh Close, devotes many hours to the community. She says she refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to good causes.

2014 Cambs YOPEY ANL-140417-110513001

2014 Cambs YOPEY ANL-140417-110513001

Now she has been nominated for the Linx Young People of the Year or YOPEYs – Oscars for young people who give to others.

Sixteen-year-old Shannon was nominated by Jason Wing, the principal at her school Neale Wade Academy in Wimblington Road, March.

Mr Wing said: “Shannon is a hundred per cent mature, sensitive, caring and a superb role model. She also has immaculate presentation, is confident, positive, and a pleasure to work with.”

Much of Shannon’s spare time is spent volunteering for 20Twenty productions, a youth arts organisation.

She became involved two years ago after entering the ‘Search for a Star’ competition and singing a country version of ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash.

“I loved it as I’m a bit of a country singer,” said Shannon, who went on to get involved with 20Twenty Productions, which is based in March Town Hall.

As part of the national Big Music Project she is organising ‘Our Big Gig’ for the local area.

As well as finding talented musicians and asking what people want to hear, she is also writing the press releases. The event will be held in March Town Hall on July 13.

Shannon said: “The task is one of leadership so I have to delegate and draft lots of ideas with others.”

Last August Shannon completed a four-week National Citizen Service project, which involved organising events for disabled people and young carers.

“During the third and fourth week we had a party for young carers in the town hall. It was really well received,” she said.

Three years ago Shannon joined the Fenland Youth Council, for youngsters aged 11 to 25. She has graduated all the way to the top and is now chairing the organisation. During regular meetings the youth councillors decide which local groups need promoting and what the youth of the area would like to see and do.

“We are the youth focus side of the council and give out grants for young people. We have an annual budget of £10,000 and decide where the money goes.”

They go through all the grant applications and Shannon said it is very hard as “everyone deserves the money”.

Last Christmas Shannon was organising a charity ball for Children in Need, and had gone so far as to print tickets, publicise the event and organise caterers, as well as obtain a bar licence for drinks, when at the last moment the event had to be cancelled as only 30 tickets had been sold.

“I had done everything, maybe it was too close to Christmas. It was in a school and maybe people thought it was a like a prom.

“³I set a target of 60, two live bands and a sit-down meal. It was really disappointing.”

However Shannon is so determined that she refuses to accept it cannot be done. So later this year she will be giving it another go.

“I am determined to give March a ball and make it happen as I really don’t like to fail.”

The sixth-former is studying A-levels in product design, textiles, English and media. She hopes to go on to study event management.

Her mum Barbara said: “She’s a lively girl and loves getting involved. She’s a very clever girl with lots of friends. She even helps round the house and is learning to cook, does washing and shopping and even finds time to take the dog out for a walk.”

The YOPEYs reveal, recognise and reward young unsung heroes across Cambridgeshire and there is £2,000 in prize money for young winners to share with the community.

There is a top prize of £800 to be won by a young person or group of young people who help others. The young person or group keeps £400 and gives £400 to a good cause of their choice. There will be a second-place winner of £400, third-place and junior winners of £200 each, all similarly shared.

The qualification for entry is easy ­– simply, the young person has to give to others. The Cambs YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in the county.

YOPEY was founded by former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing, who said: “Shannon is a very determined young lady, who refuses to give up. She rovides great entertainment for the area, and gets involved in all sorts of different groups to try and help bring about change.”

As well as Cambridge Regional College and Linx, the international supplier of industrial printers based in St Ives, this year’s YOPEY is also sponsored by Hutchinsons of Wisbech, amongst others. The awards ceremony will be held at Ely Cathedral in the autumn.

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