Kirsty Small is big at beating bullies

BEATING the bullies is easy if you take a stand, according to one brave teenager. Kirsty Small, from Baldock, picked up her special young person s Respect Award For Taking A Stand (RAFTAS) at the Horticultural Halls in London. The 13-year-old, from Weston

BEATING the bullies is easy if you take a stand, according to one brave teenager.

Kirsty Small, from Baldock, picked up her special young person's Respect Award For Taking A Stand (RAFTAS) at the Horticultural Halls in London.

The 13-year-old, from Weston Way, was one of eight people picked from 740 nominations across the East of England because of her work to clear her area of trouble.

And she was presented with her award by the home secretary John Reid and the Government's co-ordinator for respect, Louise Casey.

The teenager's local council estate had been subject to a range of anti-social behaviour problems including graffiti, vandalism and harassment.

Two teenage youths were the ringleaders making others' lives a misery.

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Kirsty and her friend Siobhan Gooch, 16, from Clare Crescent, both attend Knights Templar School.

They do a paper round in the area, which they have continued even in the midst of the harassment.

The boys threw away the papers, stole copies, hurled verbal abuse and set papers alight, which caused Kirsty to burn her hands.

Kirsty reported each incident to the newspaper group and local police and, despite living close to the offenders, she made a statement detailing the extent of the problem.

She also volunteered as a youth representative for the local residents' association, set up by the community police officer and residents to address anti-social behaviour in the area.

The youths were arrested and charged on the strength of Kirsty's evidence.

One of the offending youths pleaded guilty to the charges and was given an ASBO with a restriction not to enter the area. The second youth is currently awaiting sentence.

Kirsty said: "I just got on with it. I felt proud because I'd done something for the community."

Proud parents Dawn, 44, and Geoff, 48, weren't aware of the extent of the problem until Kirsty won the award.

Dawn said: "For the last few years there have been quite a few problems around the area.

But it has quietened down a lot recently and it is improving."

Since the court proceedings, the area has become better, with only two offences recorded since the first ASBO was granted.

Inspired by Kristy's example, the residents' association continues to grow and police calls to the area are now a rarity where once they were commonplace.

Kirsty's £1,000 award money will be spent by the association to help stop anti-social behaviour in Baldock.

Town police officer Steve Gibbs, who nominated Kirsty, said that incidents of anti-social behaviour are now very low compared to what they were.

Pc Gibbs, who travelled to London with her for the awards ceremony, nominated Kirsty because of her young age and the fact that she was representative of all the people who supported the police.

He said: "I was really pleased that Kirsty and the other residents' actions in working in partnership with the police and other agencies to solve anti-social behaviour in the area have been recognised.

"This is a good example of the police and public working together to solve anti-social behaviour.

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