Cambridge teenager Lucy Stafford among winners of the Young People of the Year awards
The Leys School student rewarded for her 'Love Bundles' idea
Cambridge teenager Lucy Stafford was a winner at a glittering awards evening held to recognise the amazing achievements of young people across the county.
She was one of the finalists honoured at the Lifeplus Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year (Yopey) awards ceremony – the Oscars for youngsters who help others.
Held in the Old Divinity School, Cambridge, and hosted by young people from the city’s Long Road Sixth Form College, 17-year-old Lucy, from Hills Road, won the senior Yopey award.
Lucy has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, or EDS, which she has had from birth. It causes her digestive tract to fail and she is fed via a tube to her intestine. She suffers dislocations of her joints most days.
But she helps other young people cope with long stays in hospital and particularly the ‘in-betweeners’ – the young people too old for children’s wards, and too young for adult wards, by creating ‘Hospital Love Bundles’ – goodie bags filled with essentials, like slipper socks, and little luxuries like chocolate bars.
Despite being on an antibiotic drip, fighting a serious infection and being fed through a tube, Lucy, who attends The Leys School, helps to boost the spirits of other young people.
The teenager set up a website to publicise the scheme and appealed for funding and invited nominations and requests for Love Bundles to be sent to recipients.
She was presented with her prize by Tracy McBride, international marketing director of one of the sponsors, Lifeplus, a vitamin supplements company.
Tracy was one of nearly 50 judges, including mayors and MPs and young people who have taken part in past Yopeys.
After receiving the £400 prize, Lucy said: “I am so honoured, shocked, amazed and excited to receive the award and it’s fantastic to see so many young people doing great things.
“It’s difficult to put into words but it inspires me to do more and expand the project a bit more and reach more young people.
“I will put the money from the award towards the Love Bundles.”
She is hoping to take up a career in medicine when she leaves school after having to shelve her hopes of becoming a doctor because of her illness.
Charlie Calvert, 15, from Murrow, near Wisbech, won the Cambridgeshire Junior Yopey Award. He has led the 23-strong Wisbech unit of the Cambridgeshire Volunteer Police Cadets, and also shows compassionate leadership at his school, Neale Wade Academy in March, where he is head of the Diana Anti-Bullying Group.
The three other shortlisted finalists were Sophie Frear, 16, from Chatteris, who is a self-taught musician who helps her pupils and the community; Darrius Pearson, 16, from Peterborough, who is autistic but leads the form of children with special needs at his mainstream school, Nene Park Academy; and Jessica Nix, 19, from Huntingdon, who is a young carer and a stalwart volunteer at the Fusion youth club in the town.
Tony Gearing, who founded Yopey in 2004 and was awarded the MBE by the Queen this year, said that it could be the final year of the county-based awards. He hopes to launch one for the East of England.
He said: “It is not the end of Yopey. Moving forward I want to focus on growing Yopey Befriender as I want to use the army of young people I have recruited through Yopey to end the loneliness of the elderly.”
Yopey Befrienders are young people who volunteer to visit elderly people in care homes.