A man who set up an awards scheme to recognise young people's achievements has been named in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Tony Gearing, the founder of Hertfordshire Young People of the Year (YOPEY), has been made an MBE for services to young people in the UK.

Mr Gearing says his aim is to change the unfair negative image of young people into a positive one and to set up the very best young people as role models for others to copy. Ultimately he would like to help create a generation of outstanding citizens.

Tony held his first Young People of the Year awards in Royston in 2005. He held separate competitions in Hertsmere and St Albans in 2007 and Watford and Three Rivers in 2008.

He expanded the campaign to the whole of Hertfordshire in 2010, and at the same time he started other Young People of the Year awards in a dozen other English counties, London and the whole of Scotland.

Mr Gearing said: “I haven’t achieved this alone. This MBE is for all the young people who have taken part in YOPEYs, whether or not they went on to be shortlisted for one of our lavish awards ceremonies. They are all winners!

“It is also for all the friends I roped in to help and for my wife Jo, who keeps my nose to the grindstone and gives me some of my best ideas.”

More than 6,000 young people have entered over 60 YOPEY competitions and more than £130,000 has been given to young people to invest in their good causes, paid for by commercial sponsors and public bodies.

The movement became known as ‘YOPEY’ – pronounced yop-ee – and its awards as ‘Yopeys’. It became a charity in 2012 of which Tony is the chief executive.

Dione Verulam is the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and represents the Queen in the county. She said: “Tony Gearing is enthusiastic and tenacious. He has had a vision of a way to help young people and with dogged determination he has delivered YOPEY year after year.

“He finds the sponsorship and he aims for a glamorous final evening which is much appreciated by the young award winners. He is able to inspire the young with confidence and it is splendid to witness the high standard they achieve as a result of his inspiration.”

The young are not only the people to be inspired. Robert Voss CBE, one of Lady Verulam’s Deputy Lieutenants, has joined YOPEY as a trustee of the charity.

He said: “I am delighted that Tony Gearing’s hard work over so many years promoting the good deeds undertaken by young people - and now to the benefit of dementia patients - has been recognised.

“He is fully deserving of the MBE and I offer him many congratulations. Keep up the great work Tony.”

Tony is now concentrating on bringing young people together with the oldest generation. He has developed ‘YOPEY Befriender’, in which young people are recruited from schools to volunteer to visit lonely elderly people in care homes, many of them with dementia.

He is currently running 10 YOPEY Befriender schemes in England including two in Watford – between Francis Combe Academy and St Michael’s Catholic High School and Lancaster Court and between Watford Girls’ Grammar and Greenbanks care home.

Tony is interested in hearing from other Herts care homes that would like to make a donation to the YOPEY charity in return for having a YOPEY Befriender scheme. He is also interested in hearing from businesses that would like to sponsor a Herts Young People of the Year. The campaign can be named after sponsors and raise their public profile.

Tony is currently running the 13th year of YOPEYs in Hertfordshire. Anyone can nominate young people who are ‘positive role models and give to others’ at yopey.org. Nominations close on July 31.

For more information visit yopey.org