A teenage girl who shaved her head, among other fund-raising efforts, for Blackpool’s hospice has been named the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year.
Rachael Minnis, 15, raised £2,000 for Trinity Hospice after losing two close family members to cancer, both of who had been treated at Trinity.
She spent months planning, preparing and fund-raising supported by her parents, a close group of friends and staff at the school.
She went into classes and assemblies to talk to students about her plans, sold homemade cakes in school and held a non-uniform day, 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, all for Trinity on Low Moor Road, Bispham.
Rachael’s efforts even inspired other students at a Bispham High School to raise funds, and on July 19 Rachael was followed by her supporters into a hairdressers’ salon.
The head shave was recorded and put on YouTube, and has since been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Rachael was announced winner of the police’s young citizen title at a ceremony on Tuesday.
She said: “I didn’t expect to win, I thought they’d forgotten about me to be honest and when I heard other people’s stories I thought what I had done wasn’t that big compared to them.
“To hear that I was the winner was an amazing feeling. I didn’t do any of the fund-raising or the head shave for awards, but I am very proud of myself.”
After her success, Rachael has no plans to stop her fund-raising. She is now organising to spend the night in a haunted house, and wants to carry out a sky dive.
She also volunteers at the hospice supporting and promoting events.
Fleetwood’s Savannah Jackson, 15, came runner up in Young Citizen of the Year 2013.
She was nominated for being a member of Tommy’s Club for Young People for more than three years, and for playing a key role in a number of the youth club’s projects including a local park project and a sports leader’s activity for the club’s younger members.
She was also 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.
Rachael received £250, a specially commissioned trophy and a certificate from Lancashire’s High Sheriff and Chief Constable.
As runner-up, Savannah received £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 title sponsor for this year’s awards.
Ian Wood, Samlesbury Site Director at BAE Systems, said: “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.”
* Justin Whitaker, 17, from Thornton was highly commended for turning his life around from being close to permanent exclusion at school to being the most improved student last year.
* Curtis Holmes, 16, from Blackpool, was also highly commended for pledging to serve his community in honour of his late granddad. * Jasmine Gwillam, 19, from Blackpool was highly commened for her dedication to Blackpool Girls and Boys Club over the last 10 years.
* Lauren Codling, 19, from Blackpool was commended for her volunteer work with the town’s Young Carers, giving her free time to write songs and performances, giving young carers a voice and support.
* Also commended were Hannah Cawley, Kezia Richardson and Chloe Thompson – just three representatives of the 61 Trinity Hospice volunteers aged between 16 and 21 years nominated for their dedication to the hospice on Low Moor Road, Bispham.