Award-winning teenager who set up cadet unit an inspiration for others

A Bedford teenager has encouraged young people to follow in his footsteps and enter awards aimed at young people following his experience.

Sunday, 10th November 2013, 6:00 pm
Armando Ventola, Yopey winner.

Armando Ventola, 18, of Goldington Road, was a finalist in the 2010 Bedfordshire Young People of the Year or (YOPEY) for helping to set up a new Army cadet unit.

Now he is training to be an accountant but still finds time to volunteer and has applied to be an adult Army cadet leader.

He said: “Being a YOPEY finalist inspired my confidence and made me feel proud of all

my achievements. It has given me the drive to pursue a career in accounting but also to succeed in anything I do.”

If you know a local young person like Armando who gives to others you could nominate them for the Bedfordshire-wide contest with a prize of £2,000 for positive role models to win.

The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Young People of the Year contest was launched this week.

This is the eighth year of YOPEY awards in Bedfordshire and there is a top prize of £800 to be won by a young person or group of young people who help others. But there are many more cash prizes where the winners will give half their prize-money away and keep half for themselves.

Other sorts of activities young entries could be doing include caring for family members who may be ill, disabled or have an addiction, raising money for charity or other good causes, helping run a club or other organisation, working with disabled, ill or elderly people, looking after abandoned or neglected animals, mentoring or supporting someone through a difficult time, doing volunteer work at home or abroad, acts of heroism and showing a spirit in adversity that is an example to others.

This year’s sponsors 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.

All sponsors would like to see entries from young people who have been in trouble but are now turning their lives around.

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in Bedfordshire. But they do not have to meet all three conditions.

For example, they could go to school or university in Bedfordshire but live elsewhere and vice versa.

Anyone can nominate young positive role models and entries close on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. The awards ceremony will be held at a prestigious venue in Bedfordshire next spring.

YOPEY was started by former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing in Hertfordshire in 2005 and came to Bedfordshire in 2006 and has expanded to many other areas.

YOPEY has been praised by national leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron said of YOPEY entries: “It struck me that their common trait was their own determination; their desire to succeed; and their resolve to make a difference.”

Tony, who was given an award for YOPEY by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 2008, added: “There are many young people in Beds doing wonderful things for others. It’s just that they live in the shadow of a well-publicised anti-social minority.

“We need to give young people the respect they deserve and set up the best

as positive role models for others to copy.”

Schools, youth organisations, churches and charities across the county are urged to nominate their young people. If their nominee wins, they can receive half the prize money as winners have to donate half their prize money to a good cause. Family and friends can also nominate but they cannot win prize money.