Natalie Chapman, chairman of the Barossa Valley Lions Club Youth of the Year programme, with sponsor student, Georgia Thomas, winner of the Lions Youth of the Year state final, and Trevor Schmidt, BV Lions Club President.

Nuriootpa High School graduate, Georgia Thomas has claimed top prize in the Lions Youth of the Year state final held at Berri.

The 18 year old is the first Lions Club of Barossa Valley sponsored student to win the state title since the nationwide youth programme was launched nearly 50 years ago.

Georgia’s speaking prowess won her the public speaking award and overall prize, winning her a trip to New Zealand and the opportunity to represent South Australia at the national finals in Geelong next month.

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The nationals will be the fourth time Georgia presents her prepared speech and whilst she says she always gets nervous about the impromptu question given on the day, the whole experience has built her confidence and taught her life skills for the future.

“There’s a plethora of things that you develop that I really like,” Georgia said of the process.

“I think you learn a lot about yourself.”

For chairman of the Barossa Valley Lions Youth of the Year programme, Mrs Natalie Chapman, Georgia is the reason she has continued to run the quest since 2006.

“We are very proud of her,” Natalie said.

“It’s lovely to see these young people…There are some beautiful young teenagers in this valley.”

If Georgia wins the nationals, she’ll win $5,000 which will help with her studies at New York University where she has been accepted to study International Relations with a view to work in Foreign Diplomacy one day.

Her win would also mean Lions Club of Barossa Valley will host all six finalists for several days and members can’t wait to showcase their region should the opportunity arise.

So it’s fingers crossed for Georgia as Natalie starts on plans to discover the next talented student for the Club to sponsor in the highly valued youth programme.

“I’m about to start another group – this will be my eighth,” Natalie said.

“I’ll go into both secondary schools in third term and it starts all over again. We’ll see what happens!”

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