Caring youngsters take centre stage

THE judges of a contest aimed at improving the image of young people have been so impressed by the quality of entries that they have increased the number of finalists. Twenty-four young people, aged from 10 to 22, will be in the running for big cash prize

THE judges of a contest aimed at improving the image of young people have been so impressed by the quality of entries that they have increased the number of finalists.

Twenty-four young people, aged from 10 to 22, will be in the running for big cash prizes at Monday's awards ceremony for the Stevenage Young People of the Year 2007.

"We had planned to have 10 finalists," said Yopey founder Tony Gearing. "But the quality of the entries has been so good we have increased the number of finalists to 12, and these represent the good work of 24 young people as some are group entries."

The shortlisted finalists are:


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* Globe-trotting Guide Penny Calver, 22, who did community work in India and is now back in Oakflelds Avenue, Knebworth, helping to run the village's Guides.

* Green campaigner Ryan Walmsley, from Ripon Road, Stevenage, who at only 10 is leading environmental work at The Leys Primary and Nursery School.

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* Victoria Rose, of Hillcrest, who at 12 is already an award winning fund-raiser for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

* Tyler Darvill, 11, of Alexander Gate, who helps to care for his disabled mum and cleans Shopmobility scooters for other disabled people.

* Rachel Fry, 13, of Sefton Road, who helps to care for her "little big sister". Jessica, 17, has a range of abnormalities that include a tiny body and deformed arms and legs as well as other problems.

* Megan Fletcher, 14, of Cannix Close, who had the idea for Stevenage's junior neighbourhood watch scheme, Community Crew.

* Marriotts Peer Mentors - eight 15-year-olds at the Telford Avenue school who have been trained to help fellow students cope with life's problems from relationships to getting homework in on time.

* John Endersby, 14, of Mandeville, who has been raising money for research into motor neurone disease in memory of his nan who died of the disease.

* Jevan Graham, 13, of MacKenzie Square, who helps his single mum Barbara to care for his autistic older brother Merrick.

* The grandchildren of Margaret Pirie, all from Stevenage, who help her take disabled and elderly people on annual pilgrimages to Europe.

* The Hewlett sisters - Aimee, 16, and Nicola 21 - from Benington, who have been caring for their mum Sue since she suffered a brain injury in 2004.

* Scout Adam Dunnicliffe, 17, of Essex Road, who not only helps run 1st Stevenage Scouts but also runs the theatre and tuck shop at his school.

Mr Gearing described the finalists "as a very good reflection of the positive contributions young people make to society today".

Nearly 200 people, including Stevenage MP Babara Follett and mayor Cllr Simon Speller, will be attending the awards ceremony at which £2,000 in prizes will be given out and places to the Hertfordshire final, with a further £5,000 in prizes, awarded.

More information from www.youngpeopleoftheyear.org

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