‘Inspirational’ Hatfield teenager wins £200 YOPEY prize

PUBLISHED: 14:05 16 October 2011

Luke Welch recieves his Junior Young Person of the Year award from Hertfordshire County Council chairman Jane Pitman

Luke Welch recieves his Junior Young Person of the Year award from Hertfordshire County Council chairman Jane Pitman

Archant

A HATFIELD teenager scooped a £200 prize for his volunteer work – and gave it all away to charity.

But then 13-year-old Luke Welch is not your normal stereotypical teenager.

The Hatfield youngster was just 12 when he was poked in the eye by a young girl with learning difficulties, on his first night volunteering at the Gateway Club in the Jim McDonald Centre, Hatfield.

But rather than turn his back on the club, Luke, from Hare Lane, Hatfield, returned the following week.

Today, not only is Luke good friends with his one-time assailant, he’s a weekly fixture not just at the Gateway Club, but at the St John’s Youth Centre in High View, Hatfield.

And his selflessness and maturity has just landed him a prize at the Hertfordshire Young People of the Year Awards, known as the YOPEYs, sponsored by Citygate.

Luke was named Junior Young Person of the Year, scooping a cheque for £200 during the ceremony held in Bushey.

“I felt shocked,” said Luke, who attends Nicholas Breakspeare School in St Albans.

“I was up against some really good people, and I wasn’t expecting to win.”

It was assumed Luke would split the cheque with the Gateway Club, giving £100 to the over 16 disability social group, while keeping the rest for himself.

But instead, the big-hearted teen will spend his half of the cash on new equipment for the Gateway Club, the Friday night social club for people over 16 with learning difficulties run by Brenda Beach MBE.

On his generous donation, Luke said: “All I need are the memories.”

Luke was hailed as an “inspiration” by the woman who nominated him, 21-year-old Vanessa Bunn, who also volunteers at both the Gateway Club and St John’s.

“He gives up his free time to help others and spreads a smile throughout the faces of the service users week after week.” she said.

“He is an inspiration to them,”

Luke’s proud dad Carl added: “He’s absolutely buzzing about it. We all are.”

And Lorraine Clarke, who along with Carl runs the St John’s Youth Club every Thursday for up to 150 eight to 13-year-olds, added: “We’re really proud of him and what he’s achieved. He really does deserve it.”


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