Young people in North Tyneside have been to the polls to elect their next Young Mayor and Member of UK Youth Parliament (MYP).
Poppy Arnold, who attends Marden High School, took office as the new Young Mayor on Monday after winning 2,506 of the votes in a hard-fought election.
In office for one year, Poppy will act as a figurehead for young people in the borough, giving them a voice and influencing decisions made by North Tyneside Councils Elected Mayor, cabinet and council.
Poppy said: “It feels so surreal to have actually won. I’ve put so much effort into this and it’s great to see it pay off.
“I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m really excited about all the new experiences and opportunities I’ll get to be a part of over the next year.
“When I was running, I pledged to do three things – improve mental health and happiness in schools, increased support for the homeless community and improve disabled access to North Tyneside’s beaches. I think it’s so important for young people to get involved in politics. It’s going to affect your life so you need to be prepared.”
Also successful was Abbie Armstrong, who becomes North Tyneside’s Young Member of UK Parliament (MYP) after winning 4,079 votes.
Abbie will work alongside 400 others from across the country as an MYP, representing young people from the borough, taking forward their views, and debating on their behalf locally, regionally and nationally.
Abbie said: “It feels absolutely amazing to have won.”
Abbie, who was previously Young Mayor, added: “I really didn’t expect it this year so I’m just speechless.
“I’m looking forward to being able to visit the House of Commons in London, and especially all the new people I’ll meet along the way – which has always been my favourite part.
“I think it’s so important for young people to get involved in politics to make sure our voices are heard. That’s the only way we can make a difference and encourage change so if we don’t do it, who will?”
A total of 7,338 votes were cast in the election for Young Mayor and 7,247 for the UK Youth Parliament election.
The successful candidates received their badges of office from North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn, at a special results evening in the council chambers at the authority’s Quadrant HQ.
Mayor Redfearn said: “It’s fantastic to see young people so passionate about politics and making sure that their voice is heard.
“I’ve been so impressed by all of our candidates for this year and they should be incredibly proud of the work that went into their campaigns.
“I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Poppy and Abbie. I look forward to working with them over the next year and seeing the enthusiasm and creativity they bring to the roles.”
Young people aged between 11 and 18 who live, work or attend school or college in North Tyneside, were eligible to stand for election, and take part in the vote.