Harry O’Driscoll who slept in a tent for a year to raise funds for the Huntingdon Gymnastics Club extension has been named Cambridgeshire’s junior young person of the year.
The 14-year-old, from Buckden, was sponsored to camp in his garden and raised more than £10,000 for the club, where he is a member and trains 20 hours a week.
He was picked by judges as the most inspiring of the entrants aged up to 16 and was given his award at the Young People of the Year, or Yopey, awards ceremony at Ely Cathedral last Wednesday (October 1).
Harry’s prize, £200, was presented by Paul Doody, marketing director of Yopey sponsor Linx Printing Technologies, who said: “For a boy of his age to persevere for a year is outstanding.
“The adventure could easily have lost its appeal, but his determination to succeed does him great credit.”
Harry, who goes to Hinchingbrooke School, is donating £100 of his winnings to 1st Southoe and Buckden Scouts Explorer Unit, and putting the other £100 towards either a bicycle or a kayak.
Proud mum Polly said: “We just can’t quite believe it. We never thought a year in a tent would bring this too him. He finished last August having done every single night without fail and was only 12 when he started.”
Other Huntingdonshire winners at last week’s ceremony, held in front of a 250-strong audience, were Nicole Wolfe, of Alconbury, £50 for Lisa Kent Trust; Beth Spalding £50, of Huntingdon, for Headway Cambridgeshire; and Kirsty Middleton, Adam Hiles and Emma Evans, all of St Neots, £50 for Upside Down Club.
In a new initiative by Yopey founder Tony Gearing, 11 young people were given ‘seed corn’ grants of £25 each to start community projects. They were Katie Brown of Buckden, Jordan Holmes of St Neots, Matthew Waller of Colne.
The overall winner was Adam Olivant, 19, who won judges’ praise for mentoring victims of homophobic bullying at schools in Haverhill, while in second place was Zak Soan, of Whittlesey, who doesn’t let being blind stop him volunteering for a dog rescue centre.
As well as Linx, other Yopey sponsors included LifePlus of St Neots.
Mr Gearing said: “Without the financial help of our sponsors, we would not be able to do this work.
“More and more young people are taking part and becoming role models for their generation.”