Blackpool teen named Lancashire Young Citizen of the Year

14 year-old Rachael Minnis made the ultimate teenage girl sacrifice when she had her head shaved to raise funds for Trinity Hospice
14 year-old Rachael Minnis made the ultimate teenage girl sacrifice when she had her head shaved to raise funds for Trinity Hospice
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A 14-year-old girl who had her hair shaved off, among other fund-raising efforts, for a local cancer hospice has been named the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year 2013.

Rachael Minnis, a pupil at Bispham High School, made the decision to raise money for the Trinity Hospice after losing two people close to her family to cancer who both received palliative care there.

Supported by her parents, a close group of friends and staff at the school, Rachael then spent months planning, preparing and fundraising; She went into classes and assemblies to talk to students about her plans, sold homemade cakes in school, held a non-uniform day at school, persuaded a dozen friends to give up their weekend to join her bag-packing at Sainsbury’s and walked up and down Blackpool Promenade with charity buckets with all the proceeds going to Trinity.

Alongside her own charitable efforts, Rachael has also inspired other students at the school to raise funds. In particular, one boy completed a sponsored silence and gave all of the money raised to ‘Rachael’s charity’.

The big day arrived on Friday 19 July last year when Rachael, along with lots of supporters, went into the hairdresser’s across from the school. The head shave was recorded and put on YouTube, and has since been viewed over 5,000 times.

Having already raised over £2,000, Rachael has no plans to stop fundraising, and is now looking at new ways to raise even more funds for Trinity Hospice, including spending the night in a haunted house or sky diving. Rachael also continues to volunteer her time at Trinity hospice by supporting and promoting events, working in the office and giving up her time to hand out leaflets and stuff envelopes.

Runners-up were 10-year-old Brooke Simpson from Colne and 15-year-old Savannah Jackson from Fleetwood.

Brooke was nominated as she has been a part of Young Carers Contact since April 2011 as she cares for her mum and younger brother on a daily basis. Despite being busy as a young carer, Brooke is also part of the Pendle Pupil Parliament and took part in their Young Carers Project entry into the Hillendale Science Challenge.

Savannah was nominated as she has been a member of Tommy’s Club for Young People for over 3 years. Over the past year in particular, Savannah has played a key role in a number of the club’s projects, including a local park project, a sports leader’s activity for the club’s younger members and was instrumental in organising a dance project, always working hard to gain new skills and help others.

The winner and runners-up were selected by the High Sheriff and a panel of judges from Lancashire Partnership Against Crime (LANPAC), Lancashire Constabulary, BAE Systems and former High Sheriff Rodney Swarbrick, who initiated the award.

As the winner, Rachael received £250, a specially commissioned trophy and a certificate from Lancashire’s High Sheriff and Chief Constable. As runners-up, both Brooke and Savannah receive £100 and a certificate.

High Sheriff Ann Dean said: “Young people can sometimes get a bad press because, often, the majority are let down by the actions of a few. I am delighted to be able to reverse that trend by celebrating and promoting the achievements of young people instead, as the Young Citizen Awards are a fantastic way to highlight the valuable contribution that young people make to the communities in which they live.”

BAE Systems were once again title sponsor for this year’s awards, and are proud to be associated with the scheme.

Ian Wood, Samlesbury Site Director at BAE Systems, added: “We are proud to be associated with this scheme. It is refreshing to come across an award that recognises and celebrates young people’s achievements, and acknowledges the contribution they make to the communities where they live or work. ‘Making a difference in the community’ is an easy thing to say, but it takes drive, determination and dedication to actually make it happen, and these are attributes that all of the finalists have displayed.”