Sudbury: Knife campaigner Holly Watson, 17, wins a Rotary award
AN INSPIRATIONAL teenager who launched a determined campaign against knife crime in Suffolk after her brother was stabbed has won a national award.
Holly Watson, 17, launched a drive to rid Suffolk’s streets of knives after her brother, Lewis Watson, 23, was fatally stabbed on the corner of East Street in Sudbury, during a night out in September 2009.
After her brother’s death, Holly set about organising a project to cut knife crime in the county, which has now won her a Rotary Young Citizen 2011 award.
Holly, of Rubens Walk, Sudbury, received the prestigious prize at a ceremony in Dublin, broadcast live on the BBC News channel on Saturday.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “It was quite an honour.
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“I’m just someone from Sudbury – in the middle of nowhere – and I’ve won something like this.”
Holly was nominated for the accolade by Rotary Club of Sudbury Talbot and received a trophy and a cash donation of �500 to her project at the televised ceremony, as part of the Rotary International conference 2011.
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A sixth-form student at Sudbury Upper School, Holly was one of five overall winners and one posthumous award, who were presented with their titles at the Royal Dublin Society.
“Before Lewis died, I was just a normal girl working part time in McDonald’s,” she said.
“Then everything happened and I never thought I would get back on with my life.
“But watching this knife campaign snowball, I feel I’ve got a purpose again.”
Since Holly launched the ‘Bin a Blade’ campaign with Suffolk police, more than 2,000 knives have been left in the six knife amnesty bins throughout the county.
Holly now hopes her award will raise awareness of knife crime and could lead to other places adopting a similar policy.
“Even if just one person watches the news and thinks ‘I’m not going to carry a knife’, then that will be worth it,” she said.
“I hope it ripples and, if people can see the knife amnesty bins have worked in Suffolk, perhaps they can do it elsewhere.”
As well as appearing on live television this weekend, Holly has also appeared on BBC radio, made presentations at schools and launched a website for the appeal.
“I hope Lewis is proud of me,” she said. “I think he would hope I can try to change things and get people to stop carrying knives.
“He was such a nice presence to have near you. H e was so kind.
“He’s probably up there laughing at me.”
To view the appeal’s website, visit www.idontcarryaknife.org