Brave Ryan lands Prince's Trust award after turning back on drugs to volunteer
A depressed young man who became addicted to drugs after an relative's suicide, before joining the Foreign Legion in a bid to break out of his destructive cycle, has staged a remarkable turnaround to win a Prince's Trust award.
Ryan Morris (23), from Dunmurry, Belfast, was named a winner at a red carpet ceremony hosted by Ant and Dec at the London Palladium yesterday.
Prince Charles learned about the young man's story alongside celebrities such as Thierry Henry and Phillip Schofield.
The Prince's Trust & TK Maxx Celebrate Success Awards recognise disadvantaged young people who have overcome issues such as abuse, drug addiction, homelessness, depression and unemployment. Ryan won a HomeSense Young Achiever Award, which recognises young people who have transformed their lives and are inspiring others.
Bullied for being small and expelled from school for attacking another student, Ryan began taking drugs and drinking, and his home was raided by the PSNI.
He became addicted to anti-depressants after his uncle's suicide and started receiving death threats after moving house and becoming a drug dealer.
Only when he saw his actions were making his mother ill did he decide to stop.
"One day, I just looked at my mum and realised she was ill and living off her nerves because of me," Ryan said. "I decided to follow my childhood dream and join the Foreign Legion."
He got fit, bought a one-way ticket to Paris and signed up. But after dislocating his knee he was sent home, where he grew depressed and rarely left the house.
A friend pointed him to Get Started with Outdoor Activities at Colin Glen, a programme by The Prince's Trust. He loved the experience and went on to join Team, a 12-week programme by the body that enhances the employability prospects of unemployed young people.
Shortly after Team, Ryan lost another family member to suicide. Despite being stricken with grief, he went to his only refuge - The Prince's Trust Team.
He became one of the trust's most inspirational young ambassadors, and Ryan's family are no longer ashamed of him - they are extremely proud.
On hearing he had won the award, Ryan said: "For me to be recognised for how far I've come feels really special."