A teenager who has dedicated hundreds of hours volunteering and raising money for charities and animals has been recognised with an award.
Sixteen-year-old Olivia spends her spare time volunteering at Stonebridge City Farm, in St Anns, helping look after a whole host of animals and helping families less well off or with disabilities to enjoy a fun-filled day out.
Olivia has now been awarded the Young Inspiration Award – created as part of the force’s Live Our Best Life Awards.
The award is aimed at shining a light on someone who has done something inspirational, has shown incredible resilience, or has done something selfless to help others.
Having been nominated multiple times by different people for her selfless behaviour, willingness to help anyone who needs it, and dedicating her days off to helping at the farm and bringing joy to other people, she’s known to everyone for always putting other people first.
Realising one of the horses needed a coat to keep warm over winter she refused birthday presents – instead asking for donations – and even set up her own small business selling cakes and ice hockey jerseys to raise money.
Having volunteered at Stonebridge City Farm for years and built her way up from working in the café to looking after the animals – Olivia has helped hundreds of animals and thousands of visitors as they make their way through the centre.
“I started volunteering at Stonebridge in 2021 during lockdown because of my Duke of Edinburgh Award and it just sort of inspired me to carry on as I love it here.
“I’ve always loved animals but do have some favourites at the farm including the guinea pigs, rabbits, and cows.
“I used to come to the farm a lot when I was younger as my mum brought me, so I’d always wanted to work here even from a young age.
“On a day-to-day basis I help look after the animals, help muck them out, feed them, go around the paddocks and make sure they are okay but also carry out health checks on the smaller animals.
“We also let people stroke the animals if they want to so we’re always around helping them with that.
“But I also help the other volunteers and the visitors who are coming to the farm and answer their questions the best I can so they can learn all about the animals.
“Knowing that I’m helping people, talking to them, showing them around – whether that’s little kids or people with disabilities – it makes me feel great that I’ve helped them experience the farm and I’m just happy I can help people.”
Olivia spends the rest of her spare time when she’s not studying or volunteering at Stonebridge fundraising for the farm.
She added: “I started fundraising because I know people need help and it makes me feel better that I’m helping people who need help so that they’re okay.
“I mainly raise money for Stonebridge as I know they struggle a lot in the winter so I thought I would raise some money to help them get through the colder months.
“I’m an ice hockey supporter so I sell jerseys to raise money and started a small business baking cakes.
“But it would be great if other people started to volunteer and I would tell anyone thinking about it that they should go for it as it will make you happier knowing you’re helping people.
“When I’m older I want to go on to study zoology and maybe work at a zoo and that’s all because of the time I’ve spent volunteering here at Stonebridge as it’s inspired my future plans and what I want to do.”
Olivia was nominated by multiple people to win a Live Our Best Life Award and was chosen by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service as the winner of the Young Inspiration category.
The awards were launched as part of Nottinghamshire Police’s Stephen Lawrence Day celebrations and aim to recognise young people all across Nottinghamshire for their amazing talents, and achievements, being inspirational, and overcoming any adversity in their life.
Stonebridge’s Weekend Operation Manager Josh Herring explained how valuable Olivia is to the team of volunteers who work at the farm and how her fundraising has helped keep a pony warm throughout the winter months.
He said: “Olivia has volunteered in different areas across the farm and when she first started it was just after Covid so she helped support visitors with that and showed them where to go and what to do and made everyone feel welcome.
“She’s such a big asset to the team because we can rely on her to be here and help others, as she’s often paired with other volunteers who are new to show them the ropes.
“She’s also done a lot of fundraising for us, she’s helped raise money to pay for one of the pony’s coats which are very expensive and she’s also organised for the Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey team to come and visit which drew a lot of publicity for us as a charity farm.
“She’s always very happy to help others. If her supervisor isn’t around she will happily step into their place and answer questions, and help direct people with the right jobs that need doing.
“If she ever sees one of her colleagues struggling with a job she will pick that up or go and support them with it.
“All of us at the farm are so incredibly proud of her and we knew she would achieve something like this.
“We’re just so happy that she’s been recognised for the work she’s done as behind the scenes there’s so much she’s done and is doing – so it’s really great to recognise all of her hard work.”
The awards were launched in 2021 by Nottinghamshire Police’s youth outreach worker, Romel Davis, who wanted to shine a light on the amazing hard work and talents of young people throughout Nottinghamshire whose efforts may be going unnoticed.
Romel said: “These awards are all about recognising people like Olivia, who since a young age has given up her time, her days off from school to volunteer and help other people and animals.
“Giving back to the community is so important and helping others and meeting Olivia and hearing about her story and her selflessness and how she just wants to help other people and animals is amazing and shows just how caring she really is.
“She should be an inspiration to everyone her age, younger and older, on how important it is to give back and help others, the world needs more Olivia’s in it.”