28 January 2020

Year 8 student Ricky Blight, who received a special police award in October for his research work into young people’s perceptions and experiences of knife crime in Plymouth, has collected a second award - this time from the British Youth Council (BYC).

Ricky was presented with the BYC’s Personal Development Award for the whole of the South West region, at an event in Exeter on 18 January when he was chosen from a final shortlist of five.

Both awards are in recognition of Ricky’s contribution as a member of the Plymouth Youth Parliament, which he only joined as a non-elected member in 2019. He is now standing in the forthcoming Plymouth Youth Parliament election and hopes to be voted in as an elected member by young people in the city.

In choosing Ricky as the winner of the South West BYC Personal Development Award, the judges said it was “amazing to see how much he had already achieved” and that his “desire to stand in the upcoming elections shows his dedication to promoting and encouraging youth voice”.

The BYC award looks for three particular attributes - a young person who has challenged themselves to overcome barriers to being involved; a long-term involvement showing dedication; and achievements that would have been hard for them since they started on their journey, such as public speaking and meeting new people.

Ricky was nominated by Jenny Way, of Plymouth Youth Parliament. She said: “For someone that has only been attending the group since last year, Ricky has done extremely well - first the police award, and now, to be picked as the winner of the South West region from all the entries, is amazing.  

“He has become a key member of the team and a valued member. He is a very hands-on member of the group and is always the first to offer to take on new pieces of work - for instance the knife crime campaign. And he really pushes himself to achieve a high level of outcomes.”

Ricky said he was “pretty surprised” to win the BYC award and added: “I think the award I received from the Police made a difference, but it was still a surprise.

“Being a member of the Youth Parliament has definitely helped with my personal development. I am really pleased that I joined it and the work I have done so far has given me the confidence to try to become an elected member. I like being able to speak on behalf of young people, so they have a voice.”

Ricky’s election campaign focuses on knife crime and community safety. If elected, he will receive £250 to spend on knife crime work. He has been inspired by sculptor Alfie Bradley, who created the 27ft high ‘Knife Angel’ sculpture, using more than 100,000 knives handed in during a knife amnesty in 2015-16. Alfie made the sculpture after a friend was stabbed while on a night out.

“If I am elected, I would spend the £250 producing leaflets and encouraging groups of young people to create something artistic around knife crime. That is a really good way of raising awareness about knife crime and the impact it has on people’s lives.

In October, Ricky was presented with the Superintendent’s Certificate for Selflessness by Chief Supt David Thorne at the Plymouth Police Commander’s Awards Ceremony at the Guildhall. The award was for his work in carrying out a knife crime survey with fellow members of Plymouth Youth Parliament. The findings are so informative that the survey is now being discussed by police nationally.

Over 670 completed questionnaires were handed in to the Youth Parliament - many of them collected by Ricky, who was in Year 7 at the time. Ricky also presented an Assembly to all Year 7 students.

The award citation praised Ricky for being the “the key driver in leading the knife crime questionnaire within his school”. You can read the full story here: https://www.sdcc.net/news/2019-10-15-college-student-wins-police-award-for-his-knife-crime-work

Mr Kelly said: “Ricky has worked hard for the Youth Parliament and he truly deserves this recognition. The whole school is extremely proud of him.”