Sam, you’re an inspiration! Stevenage role model scoops county ‘Oscar’ honours

Yopey winner Sam Cayton of Stevenage with prize cheques

Yopey winner Sam Cayton of Stevenage with prize cheques - Credit: Archant

‘I’m just a big kid’ says youth club stalwart singled out for Yopey accolade

Yopey winner Sam Cayton with Countess Verulam, Lord Lieutenant of Herts

Yopey winner Sam Cayton with Countess Verulam, Lord Lieutenant of Herts - Credit: Archant

A young man from Stevenage who has volunteered at two youth clubs over a seven year period and has also set up a third club in the town has been named Hertfordshire’s Young Person of the Year.

Sam Cayton won the 10th anniversary Yopey honour against stiff opposition from other amazing young people from across the county at a gala awards ceremony held in the historic mansion house at Moor Park, Rickmansworth.

Yopeys – described as the Oscars for young people who give to others - originated in Hertfordshire and have now spread across the country.

Judges heard that Sam, 23, of Kilby Road, could also have saved the life of a 12-year-old boy who collapsed.


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Others thought the lad had simply fallen but Sam, who is epileptic himself, recognised the boy was having a seizure.

When the boy stopped breathing, cool Sam performed CPR resuscitation, which brought the boy around before paramedics arrived and arranged for him to be taken to hospital.

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But the judges, who included Mayor of Stevenage Sherma Batson and the North Herts District Council chairman Tricia Cowley as well as young people, did not award Sam the £800 top prize for his lifesaving skills.

“Saving a life was not the stand-out reason for this finalist being chosen as the Young Person of the Year,” said the county’s Lord Lieutenant, the Countess of Verulam, who presented Sam with his prize. “It was his leadership qualities and the length of his commitment that shone through.”

The Lord Lieutenant described Sam’s commitment to volunteering for seven years as ‘tremendous’ and added: “He still helps for many hours every week. Lately he has demonstrated leadership by setting up a third youth club.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who was another judge, said: “I understand what a huge difference these clubs make and have seen Sam in action myself. He is inspiring and a great role model!”

Sam has helped to run to run two youth clubs for different age groups at St Hugh and St John Church in Mobbsbury Way, Chells, for seven years.

Even though Sam is not a churchgoer he recently used his experience to establish another youth club at St Peter’s Church in Broadwater, and is still leading this. ³It’s nice to be involved with a third club and help steer it forward.”

Sam said: “Basically, I’m a big kid. It’s nice to go along and act like an idiot without anybody judging you. It’s good fun, but on top of that I feel I’m giving something back to the community and the kids.”

There is also a more serious side to Sam’s volunteering. He said: “If a kid has had a bad week at school or at home it’s nice to think I have put a smile on their face.”

Although the boy’s collapse happened in the summer­ on a weekend away to Bedfordshire ­ it is still fresh in Sam’s mind.

He recalled: “The boy had had an epileptic seizure. I myself have epilepsy so I recognise the symptoms.”

Sam was comforting the boy, who has special needs, and during the convulsions everything seemed all right. “But when he stopped breathing I was very concerned. That was when I did CPR and he came round.”

Sam is said to have a magic touch with children who have special needs. “Sam is good with the children who have learning difficulties, keeping their interest focused. He has a lot of patience and care,” said another club leader, Margaret Noble, who nominated him for the Mitsubishi Electric Young People of the Year in Hertfordshire.

As well as Hatfield-based Mitsubishi Electric, this year’s 10th anniversary YOPEY was sponsored by Smith-Milne & Co, a Rickmansworth accountancy firm, North Hertfordshire Homes, Johnson Matthey of Royston, B3Living of Broxbourne, Orange Amplification of Borehamwood, McNicholas of Elstree, Renault of Rickmansworth, Vinci of Watford, and Runwood Homes for the elderly.

Hitchin Girls’ School was a runner-up in the competition and awarded £50 for its Memory Project where young artists paint portraits of disaster-struck children around the world, and have them given to the children as happy memories in troubled times.

Awards founder Tony Gearing, a former national newspaper journalist, who ran the first scheme in North Herts in 2005, said: “Both Sam and the artists of Hitchin Girls’ School are excellent role models for other young people to admire and copy.”

Nominations can already be made for next year’s YOPEYs by visiting yopey.org.

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