The High Sheriff of Suffolk visited Catchpole Court care home in Sudbury to meet some of the young people who have been befriending residents at the home.
A YOPEY Befriender is a young person trained to relate to elderly people living in care homes, some of them with dementia.
The scheme was set up by Suffolk-based charity YOPEY, which stands for Young People of the Year.
William Kendall, High Sheriff of Suffolk and a Deputy Lieutenant, met five sixth formers from Ormiston Sudbury Academy and four from Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard.
They are among 30 pupils from the two secondary schools who have volunteered to be YOPEY Befrienders for a year.
He presented the Thomas Gainsborough pupils with certificates for their first 10 hours of befriending, and all the volunteers were given YOPEY Befriender lapel badges.
Mr Kendall said: “I really enjoyed meeting the residents and found our conversations with the young people very inspiring. They were very confident and open.”
He added they were “all potential leaders and already good citizens”.
Mr Kendall praised YOPEY founder Tony Gearing. “I do think you have created a wonderful initiative in YOPEY Befrienders – one which brings obvious pleasure and stimulation to the residents and which develops the young people so effectively.
“Your efforts and determination are to be applauded. I hope you too feel that they have been worthwhile.”
After also praising the efforts of his wife, Mr Gearing said: “With the help of other people we now have 10 schemes running up and down the country, including three in Suffolk.”