NI man turns life around after advice from probation worker

A Northern Ireland man has been hailed at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace where he met King Charles, the founder of The Princes Trust.

Paul, 24 from Larne, won a prestigious national Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx and Homesense Award. He scooped the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star award, which recognises a young person who, having built up their confidence and skills, has overcome barriers to secure and recently start employment, education or training.

This week, Paul was honoured at the star-studded awards ceremony, hosted by Ant and Dec, and attended by many celebrity supporters and Ambassadors of the youth charity. He was presented his award by Mia McKenna-Bruce and Roman Kemp.

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The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards honours and celebrates the successes of those who have been helped by The Trust, and those who support them, in the UK and around the world.

Paul had a difficult childhood and was diagnosed with ADHD and a learning difficulty at the age of seven. His school days were a struggle, but he sought help from The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme and left school with some qualifications.

After leaving school, he was struggling with his mental health and found it hard to get work. He started to go down the wrong path and, at 22, was arrested and charged with theft. Paul’s partner was pregnant at the time and Paul knew he wanted to turn his life around. His probation worker told him about a Prince’s Trust hospitality programme and he decided to sign up.

During the programme, he did a placement at Ballygally Castle and, at the end of the placement, he was offered a temporary role in the kitchen. Ballygally were so impressed with his work ethic that they offered him a full-time permanent contract – a life-changing moment for Paul.

He was finally able to provide for his family and put the past behind him. He has now been in the role for more than six months and has found a career he loves.

The Awards Paul attended, shine a light on the inspirational stories of young people, volunteers and those who support their wider communities. It showcases the impact of The Trust’s work building the confidence and skills needed to get into a job, education, training or self-employment.

"Many of the winners have overcome significant barriers to transform their lives and build brighter futures for themselves and their communities.

On winning the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star award Paul said: "I really can’t believe I’ve won the national Rising Star Award, it means so much to me. I didn’t think people would believe in me but now I can see how far I have come.

"I’m so grateful to the staff at Ballygally, The Prince’s Trust and my family for supporting me along the way. I hope I can show other young people who’ve had a difficult start in life that anything is possible, no matter where you’re from or what barriers you face."

Scott Weatherup, General Manager of Ballygally Castle said: “We are so proud of Paul Laverty for winning a prestigious Prince’s Trust Award. Paul is an inspiring young man who is a fantastic example of someone who has overcome adversity, believed in himself and worked incredibly hard. On behalf of everyone at Ballygally Castle and across Hastings Hotels, I’d like to congratulate Paul and we look forward to watching him continue to flourish!"

Amélie Fortier-Cyr from L’Oréal Paris said: “Paul has shown incredible resilience and determination despite the many challenges he has faced as a young man. His story is so inspirational and he is a deserving winner of the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star award."

Broadcaster and presenter Roman Kemp said: “It’s such an honour to present Paul with this award. It’s incredible to see how much he has overcome to be where he is today. He hasn’t let the challenges he has faced hold him back, and the fact that he is now able to provide a stable home for his family is something he should be incredibly proud of."

For ten years, TK Maxx and Homesense have been a partner of The Prince’s Trust helping over 5,500 young people with education, training, and employment opportunities, empowering them with the skills and confidence for a brighter future.

They are one of The Trust’s largest delivery partners of the Get into Retail programme. This is a two-to-six-week course that develops young people’s skills in the retail sector and supports them into positive outcomes in retail.

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