• York Rotary

Rotary Young Citizen Nomination for Billy

Eileen reports....

The Rotary groups in York worked together to seek nominations for the RGBI Young Citizen Award 2021. Members were asked to suggest names and schools and youth organisations were approached for suitable candidates. Elly Fiorentini, Honorary Member of York Rotary, suggested 15-year old Billy Fox of Starbeck, Harrogate.

Between 6th & 8th September 2020, 15-year old Billy, accompanied by his friend Matt, took on the challenge of walking the 85km Nidderdale Way in just 3 days with 2 overnight camps. There was no adult presence and they had to be self-sufficient, carrying all their equipment and supplies and camping overnight. In the end, Billy had to complete the trek on his own.

The whole idea was Billy’s. He focused on challenging himself to make the trek independently, to impress others and encourage them to recognise his cause and donate funds. The cause was on behalf of Mia Wright, a 15 year-old friend who needed an urgent scoliosis operation in Turkey, to save her dream of a dancing career. Mia’s family had set up an appeal to raise £60,000 and the operation was scheduled for 25th September, so there was little time. With the Covid Pandemic, there was little chance of “ordinary” fundraising and Billy knew that running an event involving many others was out of the question, not least because of social-distancing, so he decided he would do something much more personal.

As a Scout, Billy had some experience of the outdoor life, organisation and fundraising, so once decided to make the trek, he assumed personal responsibility and used his knowledge and skills to direct operations. He persuaded Matt to join him for company and support and took control of all the planning and preparations. He gathered the equipment and supplies and persuaded their parents to sanction the walk; their only input was to provide emergency back-up. Unfortunately, Billy had to complete the final day on his own as Matt sustained an injury which prevented his walking the whole distance. Nothing daunted, Billy was determined to finish as planned and not let down his supporters, himself and, most importantly, Mia.

Publicity was sought and, given his age and inexperience, the challenge was recognised by local media and BBC Leeds. His successful trek raised £1,400.

On 19th April, Eileen was able to make an informal presentation to Billy at his home.

This is the first time we have become involved with the RGBI Young Citizen competition but we hope to make it an annual event. Well done, Billy!

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