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Beckton teen in the running to be named cadet of the year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 February 2019

Vera (left) and Raisa Stefanescu (right) with St John Ambulance's Bertie the Badger. Picture: St John Ambulance.

Vera (left) and Raisa Stefanescu (right) with St John Ambulance's Bertie the Badger. Picture: St John Ambulance.

St John Ambulance

A Beckton teenager has been nominated to be St John Ambulance's cadet of the year.

Raisa-Mihaela Stefanescu, 14, will be part of a small group from across the UK competing for the title at the weekend.

A pupil at Kingsford Community School, she has volunteered at St John Ambulance’s East Ham unit for three years.

She said: “If I win cadet of the year, I’m keen to paint a different picture to what people generally think of the youth of east London.

“We’re subjected to stereotypes that do not represent who we are; we are ambitious and driven and want to succeed in life.

“I want to change the mentality that young people are into drugs due to growing up in the ‘poorest part of London’, as that is simply not the case.”

Raisa qualified to take part in the event after being named St John Ambulance City of London’s Lord Mayor’s cadet.

Her younger sister, nine-year-old Vera, is currently east London’s district badger of the year. Badgers is a group for those not yet old enough to be cadets.

Raisa and Vera’s mum, Ramona, is a youth leader at the East Ham unit.

She said: “My journey as a volunteer started four years ago with the aim of learning first aid and supporting the community.

“The more I got involved the more I realised how fulfilling the youth pathway is.

“Children have a unique way to perceive the world; they are innovative, spontaneous, resilient and determined, in other words an endless source of inspiration and achievement, therefore it’s a huge privilege to be part of their journey.”

Following a £560,000 grant from the department for digital, culture, media and sport, St John Ambulance is expanding its youth team to enable more young people to join as badgers and cadets in east London.

St John Ambulance’s director of youth and volunteering, Mark Farmer said: “Cadet of the year is always one of the most inspiring events in our calendar.

“Many of the young people we work with progress to voluntary roles with St John Ambulance as adults or find work as key members of vital health and care teams up and down the country, including the NHS.

“In every case these amazing young people make a real difference to the communities they serve.”

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