A celebration of young people across Waveney

Nearly 200 youngsters will celebrate personal achievements when they attend a Valentine's themed party.

Young people from across the Waveney area will come together on February 17 to recognise each other's positive achievements, from attaining vocational qualifications to volunteering in the community. The event, taking place at Victoria Hotel in Lowestoft, has been organised by an ambitious group of teenagers who have been meeting at the Colville House Youth Club in School Road every week since September.

'There's often that stigma attached to young people,' said Marie Williams, a young parents support and advocacy worker with Suffolk County Council.

'People don't often see the achievements in the background. They see a bunch of kids on the street and think the worst, but these kids have organised an incredible event from beginning to end.

'Young people can achieve amazing things.'

The group of about eight youngsters, aged from 15 to 17, have booked the venue, interviewed DJs and caterers, designed and handmade invites, ordered flowers and balloons, and, on the night, will host the party in person.

Seventeen-year-old Tom Henwood, currently studying childcare at Lowestoft College, will take to the stage to compere the evening.

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'Tom has really helped from start to finish,' said volunteer youth advisor and detatched youth worker Louise Crisp.

'He's the one who arrives early to every meeting. Being involved in this has boosted his self-confidence and his self-belief. It's given him an insight into other young people, time management and team work. It's been invaluable.'

Special guests at the Valentine's themed party will include Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Suffolk county councillors. The stars of the night will, however, be young people like 20-year-old Catherine Howell.

In the space of six months young mum Catherine, who has a two-year-old son, has achieved an OCN (Open College Network) qualification in massage therapy, four AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) qualifications in beauty therapy, completed a British Heart Foundation 'Heartstart' health course and become a trained first aider.

'It's achievements like these that people don't see,' said Miss Williams.

'We just want people to know how well these young people are doing.'

There will be a red, black and white dress code at the invite-only party, which has been held for the past four years. Each young person who attends will be mentioned and given a certificate.

To find out more contact the Young People Celebration Group c/o Marie Williams, Colville House Youth Club, School Road, Lowestoft, NR33 9NB. Alternatively email marie.williams@suffolk.gov.uk.