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Cumbria Young Volunteer of the Year

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All across Cumbria young volunteers are making a big difference to people’s lives.

So, to say thank you for their hard work and selflessness in improving the lives and communities of Cumbrian people we’ve held the Cumbria Young Volunteer of the Year Award.

We’ve been delighted to work alongside Cumbria Council for Voluntary Services (CVS)this external link will open in a new windowCumbria Youth Alliance (CYA)this external link will open in a new window and vinvolvedthis external link will open in a new window on the award, which was open to anyone aged 16-25 who lives in Cumbria and gives up their time for a good cause.

With more than 60 young people nominated, the judging panel which comprised representatives from the county council our partner organisations, Cumbria constabulary and a number of young volunteers, had their work cut out.

And now we’re delighted to announce the winner, runner up and highly commended young people from across Cumbria who have been selected as outstanding young volunteers.

Ross Pickthall – Winner

Frizington’s Ross has been selected as Cumbria Young Volunteer of the Year, thanks to his bravery in helping fellow students during the tragic school bus crash in Keswick.

Despite being injured in the crash himself, Ross, 18, went back on the bus to help other injured pupils, using the first aid skills he learned through volunteering with the British Red Cross.

Just a week later Ross returned to support the Red Cross in Whitehaven after the West Cumbria Shootings.   He also helped communities recover from the floods last November, giving up his holidays to lend a hand.

Ross says: “I am really pleased to have won the award, although it’s unexpected. It’s important to me that other young people see the benefits of volunteering: that they can get a lot out of it themselves at the same time as helping others, and that volunteers are valued for what they do.”

Carrie-Ann Glasson – Runner-up

Selfless Carrie-Ann has volunteered at Eden Valley Hospice near Carlisle since her mother passed away there four years ago.

She has recently completed her degree in physiotherapy and travels to the hospice each Friday where she serves meals makes sure patients have the best day possible.

Carrie-Ann from Penrith says: “ I volunteer because I genuinely enjoy working with the patients and staff at the hospice. To be given an award is great, though – I’m really delighted.”

Leona Cameron, Support Services Manager at Eden Valley Hospice nominated Carrie-Ann. She said: “Amongst Carrie-Ann’s many great qualities are her warmth and understanding. She makes sure our patients’ days are filled with laughter and fun.”

Abz Ahmed – Highly Commended, Carlisle

Abz has been Highly Commended for his outstanding dedication to volunteering with Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service. 

Abz, 19, has played a big part in improving the connections between the Fire & Rescue Service and the county’s Asian community.  He also gets out and about, visiting schools, homes and businesses in the city making sure they’ve got everything they need to stay safe from fire. 

He says: “I feel like I’ve won the lottery! I’m so pleased to have got this award – but I didn’t believe it at first when I was told. The best bit for me has been meeting so many new people and putting something back into the community.”

Mark Tomlinson – Highly Commended, Eden 

Penrith resident Mark has shown his passion for working with homeless animals by volunteering with Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre, helping them cope with more than 100 additional animals during the Cumbria floods.

Mark volunteers at the centre three days each week and is involved with all elements of animal care, from feeding them to building enclosures.  He also helps in the shop and is learning to give visitor talks.

Mark was nominated by Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre Director Terry Bowes. Terry says: “Mark is always willing to go the extra mile. It was during the floods that Mark really shone and when we had more than 900 animals to care for. He showed that he’s committed even when it’s tough going. He’s a gem.”

Stacey Bell – Highly Commended, Allerdale

Stacey from Maryport volunteers with West Cumbria Carers, which provides help for people who look after a friend, family member or neighbour. Stacey sits with people who need care due to age, physical or mental illness or addiction, and enables their carers to have a little time off.

Stacey says: “I’m really delighted to be highly commended in the award. I get a lot of thank-yous through my volunteering but it’s lovely to have some extra recognition.”

One of the people Stacey offers help and support to is Rose Wilkinson, 88, from Gilcrux. Rose says: “Stacey’s a pleasure to have around, and she always brings a smile with her. She helps me out with bits and bobs that I find difficult, like picking things up or taking the dog out. Her real value to me is the company she brings, though, and we always have a great laugh together.”

Pupils from Underley Hall and Fellside schools – Highly Commended, South Lakeland

A quartet of looked after children from South Lakeland have been praised for their efforts to give a splash of colour to south lakes grot spots.

Three of the 16-year-olds, from Underley Hall School in Kirkby Lonsdale, have been highly commended after their involvement with a project called Blooming Lovely, with help from Cumbria Constabulary, which nominated them for the award.

The group wanted to put something back into their community and decided to turn an area of overgrown land on the A65 near Kirkby Lonsdale into a vision of beauty by planting more than 6,000 daffodils bulbs ready for spring this year.

Likewise, the other teenager, from Fellside School in Kendal, has also been highly commended after he adopted a flowerbed in the town and worked with councillors and council staff to create a great spot for everyone to enjoy.

Joshua Fitzgerald – Highly Commended, Barrow

Josh, 17, gives up his time throughout the week to coach fellow young people at Duddon Canoe Club, and has so far got more than 170 hours of volunteering under his belt.

Josh was nominated for the award, not once but twice, by his mum Christine Fitzgerald and by Becky Underwood, Cumbria County Council’s Strategic County Sport Development Volunteer Officer, unbeknownst to each other.

He has had type one diabetes since the age of three, juggles his volunteering with carefully managing his condition through blood tests and an insulin pump, whilst also studying for his GCSEs.

John Sherwen, Coach at Duddon Canoe Club said: “Joshua is reliable and ready to help out whatever the weather.   He is a natural at getting our younger members as hooked on sport as he is. 

“Whilst some see diabetes as a disability, Josh sees it as more of a challenge. He’s a role model for young people and particularly other diabetics.”

Follow this link to find out more about how you can get into volunteering.