Essex Police Young Person of the Year meets George Osborne MP as David Cameron was ill
ESSEX S Young Person of the Year has been to the Houses of Parliament as a guest of David Cameron. On the eve of the latest Yopey contest in Essex, the Conservative leader asked to meet founder Tony Gearing and some of the young people revealed, recogn
ESSEX'S Young Person of the Year has been to the Houses of Parliament as a guest of David Cameron.
On the eve of the latest 'Yopey' contest in Essex, the Conservative leader asked to meet founder Tony Gearing and some of the young people 'revealed, recognised and rewarded' by the growing campaign to give the younger generation a fairer image.
Mr Gearing chose to take Damion Chadwick, who won the 2009 Yopey contest in Essex, along with the winners of recent Yopeys in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Nottinghamshire.
Mr Gearing, Damion and the three other �1000 winners toured the Houses of Parliament and were on their way to see Mr Cameron in his private office when they heard he had given up fighting a heavy cold and been taken home.
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However, all was not lost. George Osborne, second in charge of the Conservative party in Parliament, stepped into the breach and met the Yopey party in the Opposition Leader's Westminster offices - where Mr Cameron had met President Obama the month before.
Appropriately for the Shadow Chancellor, Mr Osborne asked each of the Yopey winners how they had spent their prize money. As Yopey recognises young people who 'give to others', all Yopey prizes are shared with the community.
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Damion, who won the 2009 Essex Yopey for turning his life around after being excluded from school, had donated �500 to his Air Cadets unit to buy a new banner. The other �500 he had spent on himself, as Yopey winners are encouraged to do as a 'thank-you' for helping the community.
By the end of this year - thanks to sponsors from business and the public sector - Yopey will have rewarded young positive role models with �100,000 to share with their communities.
Mr Osborne said: "It was great to meet these Yopey award winners and to listen to their stories. In many cases what they have achieved - for themselves, for their communities, and for people many miles away - is truly inspirational.
"And that is what is so good about the Yopey project. Not only does it celebrate and reward success, helping to counter any negative perceptions people may have of young people, but these life stories are bound to inspire others too.
"Yopey winners show just what can be done!"
Mr Gearing said: "I and the young winners were chuffed to be invited to Parliament. It's great to be recognised by the man who may be the next Prime Minister."
He stressed that Yopey is "not political", although he felt all politicians should get behind the campaign.
"Politicians, like the media, share the blame for giving the younger generation an unfair image. They should join forces with Yopey to put this injustice right," he said.
Previous Yopey winners have been to 10 Downing Street as guests of Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, who has judged a Yopey contest.
Yopey is just about to start again in Essex with the same main sponsors as the last contest - Essex Police and Essex Policy Authority.
Nominations for young positive role models who 'give to others' and invited via the Yopey website yopey.org or by post. Write to Young People of the Year, PO Box 103, Hare Street, Ware, SG9 OXD, enclosing an SAE, for an entry form. Young people can nominate themselves.
The search for 2010's Essex Young Person of the Year will last for six months and he or she, or a group of young people, will be revealed at an awards ceremony in the county next spring.