YOPEY inspired ‘Future Finalist’ Jess, from Chatteris, to give more

Future Finalists at 2014 Yopeys

Future Finalists at 2014 Yopeys - Credit: Archant

A Chatteris teenager has built on her experience with Young People of the Year in Cambridgeshire last year which inspired her to do more.

Jessica Stanbridge at the 2014 Yopeys

Jessica Stanbridge at the 2014 Yopeys - Credit: Archant

Jessica Stanbridge was one of the first winners of a seedcorn prize of 25 introduced to try to encourage youngsters to give to others even more and progress to possibly becoming ‘Future Finalists’ in another YOPEY.

She shared that prize with friend Maggie Powell after they raised 300 by cycling for more than five hours. Cakes were also made and sold to swell the amount they raised for Children In Need.

Jess was so inspired by her experience, including attending the 2014 Cambs YOPEY awards ceremony at Ely Cathedral, that she wrote to YOPEY head office saying what she had done.

Now she is in this year’s KISS Communications YOPEY competition though this time on her own initiative rather than with friend Maggie.

This is the 10th year of YOPEYs in Cambridgeshire and the annual contest has more than 1000 to be won by young people who are revealed, recognising and rewarded for giving to others.

There will be at least two Cambs Young People of the Year a senior aged 18-25, winning 500, and a junior titleholder, aged 10-17, winning 300. Either prize can be won by an individual or group and the winners have to invest most of their winnings in their good cause but can keep 100 to treat themselves. There will also be several runners-up prizes.

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Michelle Priest, head of year nine at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, nominated the two girls last year and this year again supported 14-year-old Jess, who lives at The Hawthorns.

With her share of the seedcorn money Jess made all by herself a ping pong game for a stall at a fair in aid of Children in Need last autumn when a total of 483 was raised by the school.

As a form representative on the Wenny Road secondary’s school council she played a leading role in organising the fair. She also helped two other form members, Lauren Hankins and Kelsey Elliott, with a game where people had to guess who pupils were from pictures of them as babies.

With others Jess set up a committee to raise money for charity. As such, Jess used her baking skills again to make more than 100 Red Nose Day cakes which raised 82 for Comic Relief this year.

And she and mum Melanie are making bags to send to Africa, inspired by textile lessons where pupils are making dresses for girls on the developing continent. The charity committee has been a little dormant of late without the expertise of a teacher to guide it, but there are plans for a raffle to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Jess has a three-year-old relative, Emily Kettle, who has treatment there for several conditions, including brittle bones and hearing problems. “The hospital does a great job in supporting sick young children and I just want to help them as a thank-you,” said Jess.

In her letter of thanks to YOPEY Jess said it was not just the money that inspired her but the experience of the awards ceremony and hearing of what others had done to earn their places in the finals.

So although she is in the Guides Jess has become a young leader with the 6th Chatteris brownies who meet at King Edward Centre in the town. “I like being part of a team which teaches the youngsters,” she said.

In June, Jess did a sponsored walk with the Guides around the town raising 40 for the Royal British Legion. And a couple of times she has helped a council-led initiative called Street Pride to pick up litter in the town.

Recently she helped in the school library when primary school pupils went to look at the secondary. She has also helped in the town library with the summer reading challenge where she helps youngsters from pre-school up to 11. She also helped with summer activities for youngsters at St Peter and St Paul’s, Chatteris’s parish church.

Michelle said: “Jess is a delightful young lady. She is an inspirational student. She is unfailing in her efforts to help and support others in need. I am very proud of her both as a member of my year group and as a member of Cromwell Community College.”

Jess enthuses about her experience with YOPEY. “The finals ceremony was really good, particularly seeing what others had done, whether it was raising money for charity or helping others in different ways.

“The whole experience, particularly the finals evening, inspired me. I feel good and proud with what I have done and inspired to do more in the future. “

YOPEY is very good at inspiring young people to have a better attitude to helping others. It shines a light on the good works that young people do.” As for colleagues, Jess said: “We did set up a committee to try to organise more charity events, but the teacher who was helping us had a new position at the school with extra work which meant she could not continue.

“We have not done much lately but we hope that a small group will carry on.”

The head of her school agrees. Cromwell College Principal Jane Horn, said: “Jess is an absolute credit to Chatteris and her work to help others is an inspiration to us all.” YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said; “We were delighted at YOPEY HQ to receive Jess’s lovely letter, her thanks for the seedcorn money, and the news that she had been inspired by her experience to do more. “She has continued either on her own and with others to do good works and to raise the profile of charity-giving. I hope another teacher will be able to step up and take of the task of being a helping hand to enthusiastic pupils raising money for good causes.”

Will Jess make it to the awards ceremony again? All will be revealed later this month. But following the magnificence of Ely Cathedral, this year’s fantastic final will be at St Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge.

This year’s Cambs YOPEY is sponsored by Kiss Communications of Cambridge, Lifeplus Europe of Eaton Socon, Hutchinson of Wisbech, Spearhead International of Burwell, Cambridge Regional College, TTP Group of Melbourn and Cambridge companies ARM and Stratagem, and exams group Cambridge Assessment.

The YOPEY charity has also received donations from Cambridgeshire County Council, The Micron Group of Ely, and Cresset of Litlington.

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in Cambridgeshire. But they do not have to meet all three conditions. They could go to school, college or university in Cambs but live elsewhere and vice versa.

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