There are a group of young citizens living in a Lancashire market town who have a voice and are not afraid to use it.
In 2011, former Garstang parish councillor Lynn Harter set about reaching out to willing youngsters, with a vision of giving them an outlet, a place for discussion on what more could be done to help engage more young people over community matters
Informal discussions and a series of brainstorming sessions led to start of a town youth panel and the election of the first youth mayor Rory Mower in 2012.
Five years later, the 10-strong youth council is still active and as enthusiastic as ever.
Lynn, who recently stood down from the Town Council, says she is delighted and very proud of the committed youngsters, who have made fantastic progress on a number of projects
From charity endeavours, and campaigns to helping secure better provisions and facilities for the youth in the district, the team havsbeen single-minded in what they have wanted to achieve.
Lynn says: “I went on the council specifically to see if I could get the young people a “voice” and by the following year and after a lot of hard work and nurturing – Garstang had its first youth council and a youth mayor.
“The youth council is now well established and its councillors work hard raising funds for charity and generally helping out in their community.
“I am proud that they are well respected young citizens, and I hope my involvement will continue with them as always.”
Lucas Brown is the current youth mayor and joined the council just over two years ago.
He says: “It’s been a ball. The youth council gives you a great friendship group; We are all great friends but with different ideas.
“The youth council offers a great experience, I’d definitely recommend other councils across the area to have groups like these.”
Lucas has chosen Cancer Research UK Kids as his charity for his year in office and already has been involved with fund-raising from coffee mornings to bag packs.
The youth council meets on the second Wednesday every other month at 6pm in the Garstang Police Station meeting room in Moss Lane.
There is room for up to 20 youth panellists, and it is open to any youngster living within a three-mile radius of Garstang and aged between 11 and 18-years-old.
Council treasurer Myles Sutcliffe, 14, says: “The youth council is an amazing way to contribute and get involved with the community.
“I have had many roles such as secretary, treasurer and young mayor all of which are important roles.
“The response from the community towards the youth council has been great.
“I raised a sum of money for the local Adam Appeal during my year as mayor for them to use on future defibrillators in the area.”
The £530 which Myles and the team secured in donations has helped to buy another defibrillator for the town, which will be installed at the top end of Garstang High Street.
Youth councillor Nathan Halford adds: “Its not been all work as we have had a lot of fun along the way too.
“I believe the community has benefited a little from what we are doing but I have benefited in many ways too.”
The group have a busy summer ahead with a cake and coffee morning planned at St Thomas community hall on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, June 24, and a bric a brac stall outside the market house on July 22.
Lynn adds: “I have watched most of them grow into confident and valuable members of the community.
“They also are full of great ideas which we try very hard to implement. Meetings are an absolute joy to attend.
“ Although I have left the town council, I am pleased the young people are happy for me to remain on theirs!”
Anyone interested in joining the panel or for any donations for the charity stall, ringLynn on 01995 606404 or town council clerk Edwina Parry on 07592 792801.