YOUNG Ellie James burst into tears when she became Member of the Youth Parliament for Swindon on Monday.
The 16-year-old from Grange Park came up trumps after going head to head with three other candidates for the chance to make a difference to the town.
She said: “My first reaction was that I started crying because I have worked really, really hard for it and I had put it to the back of my mind.
“I was just really, really happy. I was over the moon that all the work had paid off.”
The youngster, who attends Lydiard Park Academy, plans to use her next two years of her term living up to her strapline, ‘Education then Procreation’.
She was inspired to campaign for teenagers to choose education over parenthood after her half-sister, Lucy James, gave up her dreams of working with animals at the age of 19 to bring up her children.
Ellie said: “I was quite young at the time and so it’s only now that I realise the effect that it had on her life. Her two children are wonderful and she has no regrets about having them at all but what she does regret I think is taking her education further.
“My campaign isn’t about contraception, it’s more about education because for me it’s really important and I really value education and I think having children can get in the way sometimes.
“If one parent has to stay at home to look after the children and the other then has to go out and work to provide for their family then they miss out on education which could improve their lives in the long term. And that’s a shame.”
It was only recently that Ellie became interested in politics because of the power to create positive change it can offer.
She said: “It was never ever something I thought about.
“I always wanted to go into fashion, which is really, really different. But then I became passionate about this and I really wanted to do something about it.”
More than 4,800 votes were cast by young people in the election which came to an end at the Civic Offices on Monday night.
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, read out the results of the elections and said all the contributions from candidates were inspirational.
He said: “The theme between the four candidates was their concern for the quality of life in the future. They showed they care deeply about society and the needs of young people; I’m really looking forward to working with Ellie and Wilf and the youth forum on the issues that concern them.”
Ellie will work with her deputy member, Wilf Steenbergen-Cockerton, above, from Kingsdown School, to bring change to the town and the other candidates, Sheryl Hadgkiss and Lyndsey Weaver, will join the Swindon Youth Forum which supports the MYPs.