5 January 2021

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

Lance Corporal Lenni Lewis, 15, has been awarded Young Community Volunteer of the Year by Living Sport, a charity which aims to inspire people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to take part in sport and exercise.

LCpl Lewis joined Yaxley detachment three years ago and has made great progress with her cadet career, including completing her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (Bronze) and a CVQ in Young Leadership. As part of her DofE award, she was required to complete a volunteering component which, due to her interest in rugby, she chose to do at Peterborough Rugby Club in 2018.

LCpl Lewis receiving her award at Peterborough Rugby Club, and (right) the award. Pictures; Claire Grainge

So began an extraordinary dedication to helping young people. Every Saturday morning LCpl Lewis helps with Little Scrummers – a rugby themed group for young children aged between 18 months and 7 years. This involves helping her adult colleagues to run games and fun activities, often on the rugby pitch, and teaching rugby skills to the older children. On Sunday morning she trains the under eight boys’ rugby team, and on Tuesday evenings she helps to coach the under 11 girls’ team. On a Wednesday evening she trains herself as part of the under 18 girls’ team, with matches typically played on a Sunday afternoon (although matches have been very much disrupted by the virus). Prior to the pandemic, she helped her team reach the Quarter Finals for The National Under 15 Cup two years running, as well as being finalists in the Junior Team of the Year section of the 2019 National Rugby Awards.

LCpl Lewis receives her Bronze DofE Award, and right, working with Little Scrummers, Christmas 2019. Pictures; Claire Grainge

Her charitable work extends beyond the Rugby Club. In July she had her head shaved to raise money for Isla, a little girl with brain cancer, which LCpl Lewis promoted through ACF social media. She raised an impressive £1251 to help Isla and her family, and her hair was sent to The Little Princess Trust charity which makes wigs for children who have lost their own.

LCpl Lewis 'Braves the Shave', July 2020. Pictures; Claire Grainge

Lenni was nominated for Young Community Volunteer of the Year by senior members of Peterborough Rugby Club, and the award is given on the basis of a public vote and an assessment by a panel of judges.

LCpl Lewis said: ‘Im very happy and humbled that I won this award. I’ve really loved seeing the children I work with progress, and that was the only reward I expected to get.’ She is also positive about the role the ACF played in encouraging her volunteering work, saying: ‘The only reason I ever got into this was because of the encouragement I received from the cadets, and because of the DofE Award.’

LCpl Lewis playing in the run up to the National Cup Semi Finals for Peterborough (pre-pandemic). Picture; Claire Grainge

Yaxley Detachment Commander SMI Mackenzie said: “LCpl Lewis has been very dedicated to her charities and we are delighted to have a cadet who shows lots of enthusiasm for helping others”.

Text by PI Doug Stuart with thanks to LCpl Lewis and Claire Grainge