Young Person Of The Year Named

Anna Gilleard has campaigned for better understanding of mental health issues

A schoolgirl who has campaigned for better awareness and understanding of mental health issues has won this year’s Wandsworth Young Person of the Year Award.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Gilleard picked up a trophy, certificate, a cheque for £500 and an iPad after being recognised during a celebration of remarkable young people at Wandsworth’s Civic Suite on April 29th.

In the past two years Anna has worked with senior teachers to develop a comprehensive programme of mental health awareness at Graveney School, with the longer-term aim of integrating mental health awareness into the school curriculum. Anna raises funds for mental health charities, has carried out attitude surveys with other groups of students and has organised assemblies and talks to younger year groups about mental health.

Anna’s vision goes far beyond her school. She has lobbied for amendments to the Work Capability Assessment to reflect a more holistic and sympathetic understanding of mental health. Anna has lobbied for better services in the workplace for people with mental illnesses and has written letters to the Education Secretary and the Health Minister. She has also spoken to practising clinical psychologists at UCL, Springfield Hospital, Ladywell Hospital in Lewisham and to the Chief Executive of Disability Right UK on mental health issues.

Anna also chairs the Debating Society, is a Peer Mentor for younger pupils, especially young carers, and volunteers at a Residential Home. She combines all these activities with being a Prefect and achieving high academic results.

In total there were seven commendations and five special awards handed out to young people by the Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Angela Graham. For the first time a Community Safety Award sponsored by the Wandsworth Community Safety Trust was awarded, and was won by police cadet Caleb Rookwood, who said joining the cadets was a “life-changing experience”.

A certificate was also given to the Young Musician of the Year, 12-year-old Anna Benton, who played an oboe piece on the night. Young people from the 8th Upper Tooting Guides and the police cadets were there to help the event run smoothly.

Cllr Graham said: “These young people are truly inspirational. Anna’s dedication and hard work in raising awareness of such a crucial issue is outstanding, and all the award winners have shown the borough has young people to be proud of.”

The event is organised by the Young Person of the Year Trustees in conjunction with Wandsworth Council’s Youth Service and is funded by the Rotary Club and the Keen Group, which also donated the iPad.

Nominations for next year's award will open in early 2015, and anyone interested should check the council website at that time for news.

Find out more about what's on offer to young people in the borough by visiting


May 5, 2014