Meet the new youth MP for Ipswich
This is Tanaquil Lu - the 15-year-old who has the job of representing young people in Ipswich and South Suffolk and ensuring their voices are heard on the national stage.
Elections to the UK’s Youth Parliament take place regularly, with Suffolk sending three representatives - one for Ipswich and Suffolk South, one for Waveney and Suffolk North and another for Suffolk West.
The winners represent their constituencies for two years and get the chance to debate the big issues facing young people today on the famous green benches of the House of Commons, as well as standing up for the interests of their generation.
This year’s vote in Ipswich and South Suffolk was hotly contested by several talented candidates with bright futures, including 14-year-old Stowmarket High School pupil Shannon Peck and Poppy Brown, also 14, who attends Kesgrave High School.
Inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg, both of those candidates had pledged to tackle the environmental issues which will pose such a great challenge in the future.
But this election’s winner was year-10 pupil Tanaquil, who has made helping the homeless and combatting knife crime her top priorities.
“I was absolutely thrilled to know that I was elected,” said the St Joseph’s College student.
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“I stood to become an MYP because I wanted practical action to be taken instead of just empty promises.”
Tanaquil is a known high-achiever - before schools were closed due to coronavirus restrictions, she was presented at an assembly with the Senior Rotary Young Writers Award.
Her winning speech tackled “Connections between the Church and State in Post-Modern Society” - and her achievement was all the more notable, because the competition was open to students aged up to 17.
English is also Tanaquil’s second language.
In addition she captained St Joseph’s Senior Public Speaking Debate Team to victory this year to retain the Senior Trophy in the Rotary Public Speaking Debate Competition.
Danielle Clarke, principal of St Joseph’s College, said: “The school has a strong and growing tradition of public speaking and service, both practical and through representation.
“Pupil voice is instrumental in a happy, cohesive community. We wish Tanaquil every success for her period in office.”
Tanaquil follows in the footsteps of Isaac Codjoe, a fellow St Joseph’s College student who spoke up about knife crime in the youth parliament.