Young people from the Met Volunteer Police Cadets (VPC) have been honoured at an annual ceremony to celebrate their achievements and recognise their contribution to communities and policing across the capital.
The cadets and their family and friends were among more than 400 people at Kensington Great Hall on Saturday, 14 April where the Commissioner and The Lord-Lieutenant of London Sir Ken Olisa along with chief officers handed out awards in acknowledgement of the positive efforts of London’s young police cadets and their leaders in their local communities.
The Commissioner opened the ceremony with a speech thanking the cadets for volunteering their time and skills. She presented four awards in total for Staff of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Best New Recruit and Social Action Team of the Year.
List of categories and winners:
Volunteer of the Year award went to Victoria Leopard (Enfield). Victoria’s dedication to the MPS as an MSC officer and to Enfield VPC is truly inspiring. She regularly volunteers to prepare cadets for competitions and has given in excess of 800 hours in the past 12 months to assist in organising and running cadet camps. She has completed her Countryside Leader Award so she can assist in running The Duke of Edinburgh Award. Her commitment has been a shining example to other cadets.
Best New Recruit:
Manuela Wooten-Espejo (Lewisham) received the award for Best New Recruit after completing more than 200 hours volunteering. She quickly gained knowledge on policing subjects leading to her selection for the Gravesend team over more experienced cadets where she helped the team to third place overall. She has achieved her bronze Duke of Edinburgh award and she was voted Lewisham’s Cadets' cadet of the year.
Social Action Team of the Year:
Next up were the Breck Ambassadors who bagged the award for Social Action Team of the Year. The Breck Ambassadors are cadets who have been trained to deliver a peer-led presentation about staying safe online. It is inspired by the story of Breck Bednar who was groomed online and murdered in 2014. There are more than 100 Breck Ambassadors in the Met and they have delivered their presentation to nearly 13,000 young people across London. They are finalists at the National Crime Beat Awards and the training is being rolled out nationally.
Cadet of the Borough:
The awards continued with the Cadet of the Borough awards, which saw the winning senior and junior cadets of London’s 32 boroughs recognised for their achievements. Commander Julian Bennett welcomed the proud cadets to the stage and presented them their awards with congratulations.
Safer Neighbourhood Cadet of the Year:
Commander Mark McEwan took to the stage to present awards for a further four categories, starting with the Safer Neighbourhood Cadet of the Year.
Samantha Wallace (Lewisham) won the award in the 10-15yrs category. Samantha earned the award by volunteering for 33 events to support policing in London over the past year. Samantha is Lewisham’s Community Cadet of the Year and she is also a Breck Ambassador.
Hollie Osborn (Bromley) won the award in the 16-19yrs category. Hollie worked with the War Memorials Trust and Smartwater to develop a project to protect war memorials from metal thefts. She is the driving force behind the project and has spent much of her spare time surveying the war memorials on her borough of Bromley to assess what protection they need.
Presence and Performance Cadet of the Year:
Angela Vallely (Hammersmith & Fulham) was first up to receive the award for the Presence and Performance Cadet of the Year 10-15yrs category. In January Angela and fellow cadet Annaleighsha (16yrs) came across a road traffic collision where a male had crashed after losing consciousness, choking on some sweets. They ensured the emergency services were called and administered first aid while reassuring the casualty. They were commended by an officer who attended the scene for their positive actions.
Stephen Joyce (Southwark) won the award in the 16-19yrs category. Stephen was nominated after he saved a cyclist from being run down by a driver of a van. After witnessing a van being driven erratically, Stephen saw it being driven intentionally towards a cyclist. Stephen ran to the cyclist and pushed them out of harm’s way.
Co-ordinator of the Year:
Finally, The Lord-Lieutenant of London Sir Ken Olisa took to the stage to present the last rounds of awards. Steve Austin (Tower Hamlets) won the award for Co-ordinator of the Year. Steve is the co-ordinator for Tower Hamlets and has a phenomenal ability to fund raise which means he is able to offer activities to the cadets at no cost allowing more cadets to access opportunities. He is the driving force behind the Breck Ambassador programme, which was developed and piloted by Steve on Tower Hamlets. This project has been rolled out across London and nationally.
Junior Cadet of the Year:
Charlie Goodright-Moss (Havering) picked up the award for Junior Cadet of the Year. Charlie helped raise money for two children’s charities, by promoting the charities and gaining sponsorship to complete a 3km mud run. He assists his staff members with recruitment of new cadets by presenting at assemblies to his school, and also can be relied upon to mentor and teach new cadets at the unit.
Cadet of the Year:
Nabil Laasid (Kensington & Chelsea) earned the Cadet of the Year award after completing nearly 1,000 hours of volunteering within the last year. In addition to being a carer for his family, Nabil helps run his borough’s junior cadet unit. He was one of the first cadets to volunteer after the Grenfell Tower fire and really stepped up as a true leader despite losing friends in the fire himself. He continues to volunteer and support the community during a very difficult time.
Special Recognition Award:
Kensington and Chelsea cadets and leaders received the special recognition award for their reaction, resilience and commitment to the community in response to the Grenfell Tower Fire. Many of the Kensington and Chelsea cadets live in the footprint of the Grenfell Tower and on the day of the fire they wanted to do something to help their community. They went to Kensington police station where they supported officers deployed to the incident. During the following days they helped in the community at local mosques and community centres where residents would come for advice or shelter. They also helped identify vulnerable people living in the nearby tower blocks who were in need of assistance. Further to this, they fundraised so that they could take a group of 80 young people directly affected by the fire away on camp. They truly went above and beyond.
Sir Ken Olisa concluded the ceremony with a poignant closing speech. He acknowledged the fantastic achievements of the cadets and their efforts to make a positive impact in their communities by doing the “right thing”. Sir Ken Olisa recognised the negative press that young people frequently face, particularly in London, but he highlighted the fact that the police cadets are examples of courage and compassion who are making a positive change in London’s communities every day. He made it clear that the police cadets should proudly promote their positive actions.