October 25, 2016
Brent Knoll teenager gets British Citizen Youth Award for charity work

A Brent Knoll teenager has been presented with a British Citizen Youth Award in recognition of her years of charity work helping poor African children.

14-year-old Bethan Rees from Brent Knoll has received one of the inaugural British Citizen Youth Awards – which honour young people across the UK who have positively impacted society, communities, charities or other good causes.

Bethan received her award at the Palace of Westminster this week after being nominated for her work with the charity Educate the Kids - which helps to provide an education for desperately poor children in Kenya.

She was inspired by her grandmother, Burnham-On-Sea fundraiser Sue Stevens, and motivated by the sight of young children in Kenyan villages whose families simply can’t afford to send them to school.

Since a family holiday to the country in 2009, Bethan has been helping with fundraising and raising awareness of the charity at every opportunity. Her events have included coffee mornings, charity shops, car boot sales, plant sales, jewellery stalls and multiple tombolas and raffles every year.

When Bethan was just 11-years-old, she completed a 10km swim and raised enough money to sponsor a child’s education for several years.

Bethan has recently been doing the administration and publicity work for her grandmother who a tour this month of the Burnham-On-Sea area for 23 children, known as The Singing Children of Africa.

The Singing Children of Africa is a choir chosen from the 700 pupils at Jolaurabi School. Bethan has also travelled to Kenya on several occasions assisting with vital work at Jolaurabi Kindergarten and Primary School.

Bethan was nominated for the award by a teacher at Hugh Sexey Middle School, where she was formerly a pupil.

Bethan’s parents Steve and Sarah Rees said were proud to learn of Bethan’s award. Sarah said: "We are extremely proud of all the work that both Bethan, and her younger sister Megan, do to help the children in Kenya."

Bethan was unaware of the nomination until learning that she had been selected by the assessment panel, from a huge number of applications, as one of only 20 young people around the country to receive the award.

Bethan said: "I am really pleased as this will help raise awareness that many children in Kenya are unable to go to school, not because they are not bright or not keen, but because they are too poor. They have no hope of breaking out of poverty if they do not get an education."

Twenty youngsters from across the UK were honoured with British Citizen Youth Awards, with each having their own unique and inspiring story.

Burnham-On-Sea MP James Heappey, who met her in Westminster, as pictured, added: "I had the pleasure of welcoming Bethan to Parliament who was presented with her British Citizen Youth Award in the House of Lords for the incredible work she's been doing raising money for a school in Kenya. She's been doing it since she was seven - just incredible!"

The medal presentation ceremony, which was held in association with Specsavers, was led by Kimberly Wyatt of the pop group Pussycat Dolls.

Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of awards sponsor Specsavers, said: "The society we live in tomorrow will be shaped by the children of today, which is why championing amazing young role models is so very important."


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