Two Bedford Modern School students have been nominated for awards for their work helping others.
YOPEY nominee Alice Van Der Schoot decided to take action when she heard about and saw videos of young Romanian orphans in poor conditions and was touched by their plight.
Another Bedford nominee was due to be in Australia this week for an international first-aid competition.
Alice, 17, felt that she had to do something and in a few short months has raised hundreds of pounds for a charity that helps such children.
She has also persuaded fellow sixth-formers at Bedford Modern School to help her focus on raising money for the charity during this academic year.
And that has led her to be put forward by John White, director of the sixth form at the for the county’s Young People of the Year competition.
Alice leads the school’s sixth form committee, as well as sitting on the school’s general charity committee. She put together a presentation and persuaded the sixth forms to adopt Humanitas, a charity that supports Romanian orphans, as this year’s cause and has held meetings to brainstorm and plan fundraising.
She is now organising a team to take part in a 50km bike ride in Romania next May. So far there are four people committed each has to raise £250 to take part and a minimum of £600 in sponsorship.
She said: “I’m delighted to date that I have already raised £1,150 in sponsorship from family and friends and I am looking forward to the event.”
Alice was involved in a running a wine-tasting evening at the school for parents and teachers, helping publicise the event and requesting gifts for a raffle. The function netted £450.
Now Alice has become an official advocate for Humanitas. She added: “I want to get more involved to help end the suffering of these poor children.”
But she is not just concerned with Romania kids. She recently organised a sweet sale in break-time at the school, including publicity and sourcing discounted sweets. That raised £120 for Children in Need.
And when there was an open day for parents of prospective pupils, Alice was on a stand explaining the school’s outreach programme on charitable work, which includes helping Utange orphanage in Kenya.
Alice said: ³I’m so, lucky to have everything that I have got. When I see the videos of the children in Romania and pictures of the orphans in Kenya my heart goes out to them and and I appreciate what I have got.”
She is pleased to know that she is helping and enjoying it at the same time.
Away from trying to ease suffering abroad Alice helps at the b.1 cafe and arts centre in George Street, Luton, a place for teenagers in care to have fun and make new friends. She helps with special theme events, including arts and crafts. She is also part of a youth team to advise and help develop the website to make it more teen friendly.
John said that Alice has only been at the school 18 months. He said: “She is outstanding in all aspects of school life. She is very committed in supporting Humanitas which she holds dearly to her heart and is hugely committed to.”
He also praised another 17-year-old nominee, Charles Hargreaves-Mawson, who helps at school and in the community with different activities.
Charles, of Kimbolton Road, Bedford, is sergeant and second-in-command of the Army section of the school’s Combined Cadet Force, which meets every Tuesday evening. He helps plan activities and lead the cadets, which includes field weekends.
Last summer CCF members went for a “fantastic two weeks” to Brunei in the Far East where they spent a week jungle training with the Ghurkas. They also helped for a week at a school for children and young adults with disabilities.
Then a corporal, Charles was still leading others.
They redecorated the main building and Charles also taught the young people English. He said: “Helping the youngsters in what are relatively poor conditions was
something I was pleased and proud to do.”
Charles is one of the team that runs a drop-in session at the school every fortnight for up to 45 elderly people who are served cakes and a cuppa and are entertained with quizzes and musical items.
He said: “I jumped at the chance to take part. I love it.” He is also helping to organise a Christmas party for 150 guests.
For eight years Charles has been a volunteer with the St John Ambulance, climbing to the rank of lead cadet, the highest a youngster can attain. He leads the others on training night on Monday at St John Street, Bedford and at public duties.
He added: “Being able to help people, even just putting a plaster on a kid’s grazed knee, is just a warm feeling.
“There’s just a great family feeling with St John. Everybody is
so friendly.” That family feeling even led Charles to recruit mum Rachel and 11-year-old brother Gerald.
His duties have included St John Day at St Paul’s Cathedral, a Young Achievers reception in London with the Princess Royal, and Remembrance Day parade at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall.
He is the current regional cadet of the year for the East of England and over the new year is in Australia for an international youth camp and first-aid competition.
Charles was among the first to see in the new year, watching the annual fireworks spectacular over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Before jetting off, he said: “I’m so looking forward to the trip and honing my first aid skills.”
He has had to raise £2,000 for the trip, which he has done mainly with help from family and washing cars. It was similar for the £1,800 cost of the Brunei trip.
Charles used his first-aid skills when he volunteered his time as a teaching assistant with Springfield Primary School. He taught basic first-aid to 80 children in two sessions, showing them the recovery position for someone who had fallen unconscious, and how to phone for help.
He has also used his time with the National Citizen Service which included raising £273 in sponsorship for Keech Hospice in Luton by having his head shaved.
John described Charles as “an affable young man who willingly does everything in a smiling and cheerful manner. He is a very mature young man who is well organised.
“Charles is passionate about helping others and is going to dedicate his career to supporting communities that have suffered through natural disasters. He plans to study disaster management at Coventry University, the only such course in the country.”
This is the seventh time that a Young People of the Year or ŒYOPEY competition has been held in Bedfordshire to reveal, recognise and reward positive role models who go the extra mile to help others.
The winner will receive a prize of £800 half for themselves and half for a good cause out of a total pot of £2000. There will be other prizes similarly split.
YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “Alice and Charles are excellent examples of dynamic young people who give up their time and are actively involved in their school and local communities and also helping youngsters abroad who are in difficult situations.”
Sponsors for this latest Bedfordshire competition include Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Central Bedfordshire Council, Atlas Converting Equipment of Kempston, Movianto of Bedford, William Jackson Food Group which includes Parripak in Chicksands, and Carlisle Managed Solutions.
Do you know somebody who deserves the title Young Person of the Year in Bedfordshire? To nominate visit yopey.org or write, enclosing an SAE, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form.