Sixteen year old, Thamesmead Youth Voice (TYV) member, Tahlia Williamson made a roaring success of the first, district, rounds of the world's largest service organisation, the Lions Clubs International's, search for a European Ambassador of the 21st Century.
Lions Club of Fairlop, based in Essex, first approached TYV, a dynamic group of 11-19 year olds, five months ago, to talk about their search for their European Ambassador of the 21st Century; a scheme that sponsors selected young people who have demonstrated a commitment to the Lions' idea of service in the community.
With each of the 900 Lions Clubs in the UK having the opportunity to put forward a candidate, competition was going to be tough.
TYV thought it would be an amazing opportunity for one of them to be involved and unanimously voted for sixteen year old Tahlia to represent them.
Tahlia and Trust Thamesmead's Lead Community Development Manager, Janice Jones, met with the Lions Club of Fairlop's, Youth Officer, Maureen Dutton on several occasions to go through the competition process, which saw Tahlia talk the three person judging panel though a presentation on TYV's involvement with Trust Thamesmead's state of the art community hub, The Link Thamesmead, which will offer a range of activities and services to the entire community.
Tahlia's presentation included how TYV consulted more than 700 young people and other residents about what they would like to see at The Link Thamesmead when it opens in late 2011; this on top of telling them how TYV secured a £5million grant from myplace, a multi-million pound government programme to deliver world class places for young people to go, which is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and administered by the Big Fund (BIG), the non-Lottery funding operation of the Big Lottery Fund.
Tahlia said: “The presentation was nerve racking but I really enjoyed talking about TYV and our involvement in The Link.” The presentation was followed by a second day of interviews and feedback.
“I am really excited to win the first round,” said Tahlia, who faces the multi district final in Dudley on Friday 25 February. The winner of this round will go on to compete against other young people in Europe for the Lions Club's prestigious title.
Trust Thamesmead's, Lead Community Development Manager, Janice Jones said: “We are all really proud of Tahlia and it was fantastic receiving the feedback, which commended her on her understanding of the challenges ahead of which Thamesmead Youth Voice are taking ownership of.
“They mentioned how Tahlia is a role model and is clearly able to guide and drive things forward.
“They also said she has a clear understanding of commerce and branding and is realistic yet still visionary and noted her excitement and enthusiasm for the project.”
Tahlia will be presented with £500 from the Lions Club sponsored by Winterflood Securities Ltd, on behalf of TYV for making it through to the second round, with the overall winner receiving £1000 to spend on a community service projects with which candidates are personally involved and will be authorised and administered by their sponsoring club.
“We will spend the money on Youth at Table training,” said Tahlia, explaining “This will guide TYV members on how to run The Link together with the Trustees. We want to make The Link not only a project that we have worked hard on but one that we carry on working hard on. We really believe in the project and the aim that it will make Thamesmead a better place to live.”