Duo who dedicate their time to youngsters are recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing - Credit: Archant

The founder of a youth awards ceremony and a long-serving children’s health worker have both been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Janet Dullaghan

Janet Dullaghan - Credit: Archant

Janet Dullaghan and Tony Gearing are set to become MBEs in recognition of their work supporting and promoting the achievements and wellbeing of young people in Cambridgeshire.

The Queen’s birthday honours were announced on Friday and saw hundreds of people around the UK and Commonwealth recognised for their work or contributions to their communities.

Janet Dullaghan

Janet, 62, from Hartford, is the head of commissioning for children’s health and wellbeing at Peterborough City Council and co-founder of the Dreamdrops charity. She was made an MBE for services to children’s wellbeing.

According to her citation, Janet has been at the heart of efforts to improve children’s wellbeing for nearly 40 years, and has made outstanding contributions to health and care services.

She began as a practitioner, but has been instrumental in supporting the work of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Peterborough City Council. A decade ago she played a central role in helping to set up a charity called Dreamdrops, which aims to raise funds for children and families who use hospitals or specialist children’s health facilities in Huntingdonshire.

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Dreamdrops assists families with paying for any necessary extra services that are not covered by public funds.

In 2013, as head of commissioning, she undertook a major project with residential homes to help them modernise their approach to caring for young people. She used her time as the director of nursing and organisational development to develop a strategy that took the organisation forward into the future.

Janet said: “I’ve been bursting to tell everyone, it is such an honour. My husband could see how excited I was when I received the letter but I had to swear him to secrecy.

“It is just wonderful that I have been recognised with an award for something that I feel passionate about, and I absolutely love my work.”

Tony Gearing

Tony Gearing, the founder of Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year (YOPEY), has been made an MBE in recognition of his services to young people.

Tony’s aim is to change the unfair negative image of young people into a positive one and to set up the very best young people as role models for others to copy. Ultimately he would like to help create a generation of outstanding citizens.

Tony held his first Young People of the Year awards in Cambridgeshire in 2006. Over the following years he expanded the campaign to a dozen English counties, London and the whole of Scotland. More than 6,000 young people have entered over 60 YOPEY competitions and more than £130,000 has been given to young people to invest in their good causes, paid for by commercial sponsors and public bodies.

Tony is currently running the 11th YOPEY in Cambridgeshire. You can nominate young people who are ‘positive role models and give to others’ at yopey.org. The competition closes on July 31.

“I haven’t achieved this alone,” said Tony. “This MBE is for all the young people who have taken part in YOPEYs, whether or not they went on to be shortlisted for one of our awards ceremonies. They are all winners.

“It is also for all the friends I roped in to help – especially members of Round Table with whom I started YOPEY – and for my wife, Jo, who keeps my nose to the grindstone and gives me some of my best ideas.”

Tony is now concentrating on bringing young people together with the oldest generation in the country. He has developed ‘YOPEY Befriender’, where young people are recruited from schools to volunteer to visit lonely elderly people in care homes, many of them with dementia.

Tony would like to hear from other care homes interested in making a donation to the YOPEY charity in return for having a YOPEY Befriender scheme. He is also interested in hearing from businesses which would like to sponsor a future Cambridgeshire Young People of the Year.