Artistic Fenland pair going for glory in Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year awards

TWO Fenland volunteers are going for glory in the Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year (YOPEY) awards after spending countless hours offering enthusiastic help in the arts world.

Brandon Mattless, 16, from Wisbech, and Liam Thompson, 20, from March, have given up hours of their time to encourage young people in Fenland to take up art while volunteering for Atelier East.

They have been nominated for the sixth YOPEY, which recognises young role models in Cambridgeshire. Both are in with a chance of winning a cash prize from a pot of �2,000 put up by organisations across the county including March crop production specialists Hutchinsons.

Karen Harvey, artistic director at Atelier East, nominated the young artists. She said: “There’s no stopping Brandon. We are really proud to have been able to help him find the opportunities that he has embraced.

“Any opportunity we showed him he took it. He is the most dedicated person of his age we have ever worked with.

“In a short time he has taken to the arts and transformed his understanding of what he is capable of, even to the point of changing career plans.”

Brandon has been involved with a host of art projects across the Fens, organising exhibitions, sitting on the Fenland District Youth Council and running art sessions for youngsters.

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The teenager - who is also a nomination in this year’s Kids Are Alright Challenge - won �1,000 from the 02 Think Big Awards to put on a young artists exhibition and claimed top prize in a T-shirt designing contest.

He also made a book about controversial plans by Cambridgeshire County Council for the �1m Waterlees adventure playground in Wisbech to get people behind it - organising an event to reassure those worried about noise.

Liam, of Norwood Road, March, has been doing work experience with Atelier East for two months but is about to start an apprenticeship scheme with them.

He has been vital in promoting the organisation’s Fenland Scrapstore initiative - which uses recycled materials in arts projects - and has worked with young people to paint a mural at Manea Primary School.

Miss Harvey said: “He has gone out of his way, used his initiative and come up with ideas to promote the Fenland Scrapstore to people. He has helped at events and made people feel really welcome.

“Liam loves art and creativity and he’s brilliantly organized, thoughtful and proactive. I can’t imagine many young men volunteering four days a week on a social enterprise and not know what the future holds.”

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “Brandon and Liam are to be congratulated on giving up their time to help other young people with creative art and community projects – and, in return, they are getting ideas for their careers.”

Since the first Cambridgeshire competition in 2006 YOPEY has spread to 12 English counties and the whole of Scotland. More than �130,000 has been won by young people to share with their communities.

Peterborough City Council will host the Cambridegshire YOPEY awards at the cathedral on September 13. Free tickets are available from the address below.

• To nominate inspirational young people for the Cambs YOPEY, which is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in Cambridgeshire, visit www.yopey.org or send an SAE for an entry form to YOPEY, PO Box 236, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 1DP. Young people can nominate themselves. Entries close on June 30.

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