The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the “incredible spirit” of young people who have overcome adversity and were celebrated by his Prince’s Trust.
Charles joined a host of celebrity trust supporters at a virtual awards ceremony honouring those who have turned their lives around with support from the heir to the throne’s charity.
Among the stars who spoke out in support of the young people were Idris Elba, Dame Helen Mirren, Fearne Cotton, Joanna Lumley and Joss Stone who performed Andra Day’s Rise Up – a song which helped her win The Masked Singer.
In a pre-recorded video message for the event hosted by Ant and Dec – Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – Charles said: “One year ago, the Covid-19 pandemic was at its very beginning, and today we continue to live through deeply troubling and uncertain times.”
He went on to say: “This is why more than ever the stories of this year’s notable award winners must be told, shared and celebrated in order to encourage us and remind us of the vast capability of young people in this country and indeed around the world.
“I’ve always felt it is absolutely crucial that young people can obtain the right support so that they can unlock that potential, and I need hardly to say how proud I am that we are still able to do that today.
“This year’s winners are an example of the more than one million young people my trust has supported since 1976. And I’m delighted to say that today we are working in 18 countries, enabling young people in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe to reach their full potential.”
He added: “Each of you has inspired us with your determination, your incredible spirit, and your commitment to working towards a truly positive future.”
Away from the awards, the Duke of Cambridge defended the monarchy against accusations of racism made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, saying: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
During the ceremony 10 award winners were recognised by the youth charity, among them was Thomas Pemberton, 22, from Blackburn, winner of the Young Achiever award, who four years ago was homeless but now works for the NHS.
He said: “My teenage years were hard for me and I was often in trouble. I was misunderstood and never felt that I got the support I needed for my mental health and learning difficulties.
“I wasn’t in education and things were tough, so I would find myself having arguments with my parents and being out on the streets.”
But after taking part in the trust’s Get into NHS Hospital Services programme his life skills were boosted and he secured a job in a hospital’s laundry department and now mentors other young people.
Prince’s Trust ambassador Dame Helen congratulated the 22-year-old: “Thomas is a true inspiration. His hard work and commitment so rightfully recognised – a huge well-done Thomas! You should be very proud.”