Harpenden Scouts scoop prize for African project

PUBLISHED: 18:54 18 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:07 06 May 2010

A GROUP of scouts from the district has won a £1,000 prize for building a community centre in a poor African town with their own hands. The winners of the Roche Young People of the Year (YOPEY) award – presented at County Hall in Hertford on Friday night

A GROUP of scouts from the district has won a £1,000 prize for building a community centre in a poor African town with their own hands.

The winners of the Roche Young People of the Year (YOPEY) award - presented at County Hall in Hertford on Friday night - were a group of 15 to 20-year-old Explorer Scouts, from Harpenden and Wheathampstead who raised £100,000 to build the centre.

Sixteen-year-old Bradley Cooper, of Wheathampstead Road, Harpenden, said: "It was an absolutely amazing experience. The building was hard work but it was all worth it. I stayed out there for six weeks but the memories will last me forever."

Another 16-year-old, Bea Currie, of Oakfield Road, Harpenden, said: "We got involved in doing something positive and saw the results with our eyes at the end. We had a great sense of achievement."

The Explorer Scouts will be using their prize-money to support the Scouts in Hohoe, Ghana.

Youngsters from the western half of Herts competed in the YOPEY contest, set up to give young people a fairer image.

The judges, who included St Albans MP Anne Main and St Albans Deputy Mayor Cllr Maxine Crawley, said the Explorer Scouts' work was, "a great example of our responsibility to other cultures and international relations", and that, "the end results will leave a lasting legacy."

The £125 runner-up was 14-year-old sportsman Michael Pope, of North Riding, Bricket Wood, who was cited as "proven to be an inspiration of enormous stature" despite being a dwarf.

He told the story of another dwarf Charlie at Bushey Meads School, whom he has inspired to take up sport, saying: "Charlie was very shy, lacked confidence and always looked unhappy, sitting in the corner. I encouraged him to attend the Stoke Mandeville National Junior Games, staying away from home for the first time.

"This was a turning point for Charlie. He saw what I and other disabled children could achieve and he won medals. This changed his personality and outlook. Now he smiles a lot and wants to do what I do."

Michael has won medals by taking part in the National Dwarf Games in Birmingham, the European Dwarf Games in Belfast and the World Dwarf Games in Paris.

His ambition is to qualify for the Paralympics in London in 2012 and to represent Great Britain at shot putt and possibly discus and javelin as well. When he is an adult he wants to be a sports coach.

Molly Cutler, 18, of St Albans, was given £50 for the Chain of Hope charity for helping a young man with learning difficulties attend Special Olympics in the town.

This is the fourth year of YOPEYs in Hertfordshire, a scheme that has extended to other parts of Britain.

For more information visit www.yopey.org where you can make nominations for future YOPEYs.


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