Fenland young people among unsung heroes praised at Cambs YOPEY final

YOUNG role models from across Fenland were among the unsung heroes praised for hard-working, dedicated and selfless acts in their communities at an annual awards ceremony.

The final of the Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year competition, or YOPEYs, took place on Tuesday at Peterborough Cathedral.

Councillor Samantha Hoy, 24, the youngest member of Cambridgeshire County Council, was nominated for her work on the controversial million-pound Waterlees Playground, which was attacked by residents as a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Hoy said: “The best way to do something is to do it yourself – and that’s what I did.”

Also nominated was Ella Szklaruk, 18, from Whittlesey, for her volunteering work at Peterborough Prison where she teaches prisoners to cook.

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After witnessing death first-hand in her hospital job she changed her perspective on the world and joined Peterborough’s Friends of Prison to help mothers in prisons.

She said: “Prisoners are very normal people, they are mums, they are wives.”

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Chloe Hebden, 19, from Folksworth, was recognised for setting up a dance studio in Whittlesey after her dreams of going to a top London dance studio were dashed.

She said: “Seeing my children perform makes me so proud. And it’s great to be recognised outside of the dancing circle through YOPEY.”

They each received a �50 cheque towards a good cause of their choice. Cllr Hoy donated her �50 to the National Autistic Society because she has an autistic brother, Ella donated hers to Friends of Peterborough Prison and Chloe donated her cheque to charity ICanDance.

Young Person of the Year went to John Morris, 18, of St Ives, who defied a difficult childhood to become an adult Scout leader and prepare to study politics at Keele University in his ambition to become a journalist.

John plans and runs meetings for beavers, cubs and scouts in St Ives and Houghton and was part of a group that went to the Gambia to help build teachers’ accommodation.

He will return in December and will give half of his �800 first prize winnings towards the trip.

Judges praised him for “overcoming adversity and giving on a phenomenal scale”.

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