Young Person Award

Kindly sponsored by

Plunkett is delighted to be launching a new award in this years Rural Community Business Awards campaign.

The Young Person Award, kindly sponsored by Abri Housing, is an opportunity to celebrate the often un-sung heroes of community businesses – the younger generation. Over the last year, we’ve heard many stories of young people who have been integral in their community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and so what better way to give recognition and thanks to this inspiring group of people, then through our Awards campaign.

We received many wonderful nominations telling us about young people from all over the UK who have shown outstanding commitment and kindness to their communities. Those nominations were carefully considered by a panel of judges made up of representatives from Award sponsors and we are delighted to now be sharing with you, the three finalists of the Young Person Award as Georgia Ball, Katherine Geikie-Cobb and Toby Carlton.

To help us find our overall winner, we’re asking you to vote for who you’d like to win. Voting will open on Monday 1st November and will close at 4pm on Monday 8th November.

Before registering your vote please do have a read through each of their stories by clicking on the individual buttons below:

Georgia is a 17 year old who has been one of the most active volunteers at Bledington Community Shop.

As well as spending her time volunteering, Georgia has also been studying for her A-Levels and competing in show-jumping, while also using the experience she gained when volunteering to count towards her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. In fact, she was so taken by her time volunteering in the shop that she has carried on helping out long after completing her Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Since fundraising for Bledington Community Shop began ten years ago, Georgia has been part of Bledington’s community business story. When a team of residents began organising cake sales at nearby Chastleton House (which raised over £70,000 towards the shop build) seven years ago, Georgia got stuck in with baking, contributing her speciality, chocolate brownies, which she can now do with her eyes closed! During the cake sales, Georgia was always on hand helping to serve and clean up.

In the early days of the community shop, Georgia used her knowledge of social media to help set up and run the shop’s successful Instagram and Facebook accounts. Georgia has been volunteering on Saturday and Sunday mornings, arriving at 8.30am and frequently working through to 1.30pm. Weekends are a particularly busy time for the shop with many tourists, walkers and cyclists visiting the café, adding to regular business, and as a result Georgia has had to learn the full range of skills required to run the café. As well as understanding Health and Safety regulations, she’s now a trained barista and can balance a stack of plates safely when carrying cakes and coffees to outside tables.

While volunteering, Georgia has learned all aspects of working in a shop. This includes manning the till, displaying shelves properly and interacting with all customers. She has opened up and cashed up. With a keen eye, she regularly re-organises shelves so they work better. For example, one weekend she saw that the big brand cereals were hidden away, so she rearranged the shelves so that the most popular brands were more prominent and as a result sales increased. She now knows the shop so well that she has been able to help new volunteers settle in and allow them to discover the joys of working in the shop and café.

During the COVID-19 lockdown Georgia’s help has been invaluable. When older and vulnerable volunteers had to stay at home, Georgia stepped in and took on more volunteer shifts than usual. She helped to pack and deliver food boxes to isolating neighbours as well as working diligently so that those who were isolating felt safe and secure.

Georgia is not the only youngster who works in the shop. There are three other locals, Barnaby, Emily and Dougal who also regularly volunteer, together lowering the average age of volunteers substantially! We have a strong team of volunteers at Bledington Community Shop and Georgia has helped set the tone for the younger generation.

Steve Packman, manager says: “Georgia is one of the most flexible and capable volunteers who I can trust to do a great job whatever she turns her hand to.” Graeme Ferrero, Chairman says: “Georgia has set a great example for the younger generation. We are very pleased that since she started volunteering, we have had a number of others want to join the shop team. This has increased the number and range of volunteers available.

Katherine, 16 years old, is one of the volunteers at Semley Village Stores, near Shaftesbury.

Katherine’s journey with Semley Village Stores began four years ago, when as a very diffident, quietly spoken 13 year old, she began volunteering with the community business, on Saturday afternoons, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award.

When Katherine joined the Shop she was a completely different young person to the one who works so diligently with us today. By her own admission Katherine was very shy and struggled to embrace the volunteer activities she was given through her own initiative. She found it difficult to engage with customers and because of the nature of many being older and hard of hearing, serving was very challenging.

At the end of her first year with the shop we completed a review for her DofE Bronze Award, citing the areas where she could improve.

Despite an initially challenging volunteering experience, to our surprise, Katherine returned to Semley Village Stores the next year wishing to undertake her DofE Silver Award with the business – this time as part of her Skills segment and not Volunteering. Katherine was set three skills to work towards:

  1. Technical – mastering the till and coffee machine and the deeper recesses of the system to enable her to “search”, “waste” and “transfer”
  2. Communication – dealing with customers, and
  3. Self-initiative – using her own initiative to see what needed doing in the

To our huge pleasure, Katherine responded immediately, taking the initiative to see what needed to be done – sweeping the floors, checking the fridge temperatures and wrapping breads or pastries. As a result, she waltzed her DofE Silver Award with a glowing tribute from the shop, before going on to do her Gold DofE with us – volunteering again.

This summer she was elevated to a “paid teenager” at £9.00 per hour because the Shop wanted to recognise how far she’d come and how capable she now is. Although she is now back at school for her A-levels and despite that she no longer needs to volunteer with us for her Duke of Edinburgh Award, she has chosen to keep doing so.

Ever since that first review she has become a very welcome assistant every Saturday – which she still does on a voluntary basis and has become a real asset to our Shop. We now have full confidence in her ability, knowing that she will be totally on top of everything to watch the shop; check the stock and serve customers beautifully – not just with scanned items but also with all the till eccentricities, as well as serving teas and coffees and thinking for herself.

Katherine has been nominated because we truly believe she deserves recognition for the level of commitment she has shown over such a long time (especially given the initial less then positive review). Katherine has transformed since she first arrived at the Shop, showing a great deal of determination to carry on and the guts and bravery to disprove the many things outlined in her first volunteering experience at Semley Village Stores. Well done her!

Toby is a 15 year old who has shown an incredible amount of kindness and hard work to support his local community. He works tirelessly, using all his spare time to volunteer for both the JSRNSD community hub and the community pub in Jaywick Sands, Essex.

He is loved by locals because of his steadfast attitude and sheer willingness to help anyone and solve problems that come up. We have an aging population who have fallen in love with him because he’s always there to help in anyway, either by doing some gardening for free, or lifting and moving things, or through word of mouth, finding things they need in the community. He not only helps obtain and stacks the shelves for our food bank, he also distributes them while chatting and getting to know people and making them feel at ease in difficult situations.

Toby has since been repairing mobility scooters for locals who need them, because they were unable to afford shop prices, repairing them for free, and working with a local mechanic to make sure they’re safe. He also helps in the community pub, collecting and washing glasses and refilling the drink fridges – he’s always running around all day to help. He even sings karaoke for the locals that request him, whilst looking after his siblings while his mother volunteers for shifts in the pub to support her mental health.

Toby is such an unassuming and selfless young man who never says no, never thinks anything is too much trouble and will always work his hardest to help people that need it. He’s like a mini tornado always running around for someone, doing something and never expecting anything in return.

Toby truly deserves recognition for what he does to realise the impact he has on his local community. We are so proud to have such an innovative and jovial person volunteering for us.

The winner of the Young Person Award will be announced at a special award ceremony hosted by Dame Prue Leith, on 25th November and will receive a £250 cheque for their chosen community-owned business.

If you would like to follow along with the ceremony, you can register to join the live-streaming by clicking here. Our thanks to Power to Change for their generous support in enabling the live-streaming facility.

Terms and conditions

  • Only one vote per email address, per award category will count
  • Anyone is permitted to submit a vote
  • Votes submitted before 10am on the 1st November and after 4pm on the 8th November will not be counted
  • Votes from the public will be counted and scored according to their final vote tally. The person with most votes will score 3pts, second will score 2pts and third will score 1pt. These scores will then be added to the judges scoring to identify the winner
  • In the event of a tie, the judging panel will decide the overall winner 
  • Information submitted as part of your vote entry will only be used in connection with the Rural Community Business Awards, unless you opt in to receive further news from Plunkett which you may opt out of at anytime. We will not share your data with anyone
  • You can read more on Plunkett’s Privacy Policy by clicking here