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Inspirational Young Volunteer Heroes Receive Young Citizen Awards 2021

Max Woosey has raised more than £533,000

*Each recipient is available for interview - email or call 07545 340729*

Remarkable young people are being recognised with Rotary Young Citizen Awards, which have gone virtual this year with an Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell on Saturday, 22nd May.

This year’s outstanding winners, aged from seven to 20, have gone out of their way to help others and make a difference to their community. Many have been young volunteer heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have helped young children in desperate need facing starvation overseas. Along the way, some have also attracted celebrity endorsements!

The Awards include the Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award and Sporting Hero Award 2021. Here’s more about the inspirational winners:

Two seven-year-old friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq from East London set up a 'Lemonade for Yemen-Aid' stand, when they were six, outside their home to raise money for Yemen after they heard about the plight of children there who are starving. They thought they might raise GBP100 but have helped raise about GBP100,000 for the Yemen Crisis after their story went viral. They have even received the support and a generous donation from actress Angelina Jolie who contacted them personally and have won Gold Blue Peter badges. The UN World Food programme has made a video about them with messages of thanks from children in Yemen. They were nominated by Redbridge Rotary Club.

11-year-old Max Woosey has raised more than GBP 533,000 for North Devon Hospice by sleeping in a tent in his garden for more than a year from the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. He decided to camp out after his neighbour Rick Abbott gave him a tent before he died of cancer and told him to “have an adventure" in it. Max took on the challenge to fundraise for the hospice which helped Max’s family care for Rick before he died of cancer in February 2020. Max has now pledged to carry on camping and continue sleeping in a tent in his garden to raise even more funds for North Devon Hospice.

Stephen Roberts, CEO of North Devon Hospice said: “Single-handedly, Max has recouped well over half of our losses because of COVID. Max has been an absolute fundraising tour de force in probably one of our darkest times. Max, you have looked after over 480 terminally ill people in North Devon hospice, thanks to your amazing efforts.” Nominated by Braunton Caen Rotary.

Sisters Seanna and Ciara Hamill, aged 18 and 20, are two Rotaractors* from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, whose mother is a senior healthcare professional with a BAME background. When the pandemic hit, she faced huge difficulties accessing PPE, despite having a front-line role. Faced with this, Seanna and Ciara decided to do something about it. They set up SanHanzUK, a social enterprise community interest company (CIC) to manufacture hand sanitiser with a mission to get sanitiser to people who most needed it. Sales have allowed them to give away over 10,000 pieces of PPE to frontline workers across the UK and Ireland. SanHanzUK also donates 20% of proceeds to foodbanks. With profits the girls invested in mask manufacturing capabilities and now supply full “Covid protection packs”. Nominated by Rotary Club of Rotary Social Innovation.

19-year-old Lanai Collis-Phillips has been volunteering for over five years at Volunteering Matters. Within that charity, she is involved in Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up (WASSUP), to raise awareness of domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual violence. She has helped deliver ”Gang Grooming ” workshops to more than 1,500 schoolchildren in Suffolk and was part of the presenting team for Crucial Crew showing children how to protect themselves and others. She is the first young person in Suffolk to become a representative on the local safeguarding board. In 2019, Lanai became an #iwill UK Ambassador for Youth Social Action. She has chaired a number of high level #iwill campaign meetings in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and chaired a discussion panel on growing up black in rural areas. Ipswich Wolsey Rotary nominated Lanai for the Award after mentoring her when she was sponsored by the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner to attend the District’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) event in 2019.

16-year-old Poppy McGhee, who suffers from epilepsy, started playing the violin aged five and passed Grade 8 – the top musical examination - with distinction two weeks after her 8th birthday. She also started fundraising at the age of five. After seeing a performance when she was seven by blind and autistic pianist Derek Paravacini who inspired the setting up of The Amber Trust, she decided to use her talents to raise thousands of pounds for this charity. She has taken part in workshops run by The Amber Trust helping to provide music therapy to blind, partially sighted and autistic children and mentors younger musicians.

Professor Adam Ockelford who founded The Amber Trust said: “I first met Poppy eight years ago when she was only eight years old. And she came up to me at the end of a concert and said ‘I want to raise money for The Amber Trust’. She started with a concert that year and every year since raising money for us. And she's now raised several thousand pounds. She really is our golden fundraiser.“ Nominated by Mendip Rotary.

14-year-old Alfie Dean set up The Babbacombe Pantry outside his home, using a shelf taken from his bedroom to offer elderly and vulnerable people the chance to collect essential items during lockdown. He set up a GoFundMe page to help keep the pantry well-stocked. He said: “The Pantry was something that was relied on by so many people and when we started delivering food parcels as well, I noticed that people of all ages were using it. I noticed lockdown was causing people to struggle in so many different ways, be that financial or social issues.” The teenager also launched a Christmas appeal collecting gifts and raising funds to provide 400 Christmas stockings to families in need. He rebranded his campaign as ‘Alfie in Babbacombe’ continuing to help others including organising an Easter Egg Hunt this year and also in 2020, asking for donations of Easter Eggs and delivering more than 200 of them, mainly to children, in both years. Nominated by Torquay Rotary.

Shanea Kerry Oldham, 20, was spurred into action after a teenager was stabbed in her neighbourhood. She went to help him lying in the street and what she witnessed left a huge mark on her. Having also suffered the loss of a friend in 2017 to youth violence, Shanea vowed to do everything possible to make sure his life was not in vain and is determined to bring about change in her community and reduce the fear amongst teenagers on the streets. She set up Your Life More Life CIC which creates safe spaces for young people impacted by serious youth violence and is a Youth Activism Coordinator for The 4Front project, a member-led youth organisation that supports young people with experiences of violence and the criminal justice system to create change in their own lives, communities and society. Nominated by Stratford Rotary.

Jemima Browning, 20, started Tadcaster Stingrays, a swimming squad for young people with disabilities at Tadcaster Swimming Pool. Driven by her younger brother Will, who has Down’s Syndrome, it was Jemima’s belief that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy sport. The Tadcaster Stingrays are coached by Jemima and some are now competing in the Special Olympics and the Great Britain Down’s Syndrome Swimming Group. Jemima and Will were both selected to represent Great Britain on the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Activation Committee.

Jemima said: “Stingrays has made a massive difference to the young people that join us. It has made a huge impact in the lives of these young people, both in the way that their swimming skills have improved but also in the way that their social skills have improved. It's been absolutely incredible to watch them all grow as individuals, but also as athletes, I've been very, very lucky in that. Will has changed completely." Nominated by Leeds Rotary.

The Award Winners will receive a trophy, certificate and GBP 300 to go towards their chosen project or charity from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.

The President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Tom Griffin said: “Yet again we see magnificent examples of the selflessness of young people, and the way in which, despite the stresses and difficulties of the past year, they have recognized that something needs to be done – and have taken action. Truly, they are People of Action, and epitomize Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self”.

The Rotary Young Citizen Awards were started in 2007 to celebrate the amazing achievements of inspirational young people across Great Britain and Ireland, many of whom have assumed important responsibilities at a very young age. Nominations are put forward by Rotary Clubs.

Find out more about the inspirational Rotary Young Citizen Award Winners 2021 at Free registration to watch this year’s Awards is on: