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Teen urges others to take on club-funded scheme that has changed his life

PUBLISHED: 13:27 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:02 27 March 2020

George Bates was sponsored by Fakenham Rotary Club for the RYLA leadership course. Picture: George Bates

George Bates was sponsored by Fakenham Rotary Club for the RYLA leadership course. Picture: George Bates

Archant

A Fakenham teenager has hailed the ‘life-changing’ course that the town’s Rotary club sponsored him through.

Rotary Club of Fakenham & District celebrates 60 years as a club. Picture: ROTARYRotary Club of Fakenham & District celebrates 60 years as a club. Picture: ROTARY

George Bates, 18, from Dereham was sponsored to do the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA), an international project that works on personal development and leadership for young people aged 18 to 26.

Mr Bates said: “The course gave me a new drive to go out there and do all I can to achieve and do. It was truly life-changing.”

He completed the course at the Grafham Water Centre in Cambridgeshire. The Rotary club sponsor one person a year to complete the course.

The week-long leadership course featured a number of different activities, including presentations, business simulations, hikes, canoeing, paddleboarding and kayaking.

Fakenham Rotary Club member, Brenda Parcell. Picture: Brenda ParcellFakenham Rotary Club member, Brenda Parcell. Picture: Brenda Parcell

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The week had a huge effect on Mr Bates’ life. “I was personally hesitant of doing stuff outside my comfort zone and this brought me out of my shell,” he said.

“If I thought I wouldn’t enjoy something, I would not do it.”

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But he now goes outside his comfort zone, completing a 2K wild swim, and setting up his own company with a former teacher building allotments and teaching children across Norfolk about sustainability.

Rotary Club of Fakenham & District celebrates 60 years as a club. Picture: ROTARYRotary Club of Fakenham & District celebrates 60 years as a club. Picture: ROTARY

Brenda Parcell, from Fakenham has been a member of the Rotary Club for five years and is going around schools in the town to advertise the sponsorship. While the chance is open to anyone in the age range, there has not been a huge response to it.

Mrs Parcell said: “People at that age are so busy that they don’t need to look at it. They are thinking about holidays, gap years and uni.

“But they have the opportunity to go on a leadership course and add something great to their CVs.”

Mr Bates was on his summer holidays during the course, and said it is worth giving up the time. he said: “It is only one week out of 52 and then the rest of your life.

“It can lead to so many opportunities so it is definitely worth it. It was a totally rewarding, fulfilling experience.”

Anyone interested in the sponsorship should contact Fakenham Rotary on 01328 853384 and leave their contact details.

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