Belfast Telegraph

Celebrating the success of Northern Ireland’s young people

The achievements of young people from across Northern Ireland were celebrated,Thursday 25th November at a Gala Event held in Newtownabbey’s Theatre at the Mill.

The Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards acknowledge young people who have changed their lives through participation in one of The Prince’s Trust’s programmes.

Britain’s Got Talent stars Twist and Pulse joined local celebrities such as Lynda Bryans, Paddy Barnes, Ralph McLean and Stephen Watson to honour the young people who have worked to turn their lives around.

The winners in seven categories were announced:

Vodaphone Young Achiever - 23-year-old Stephen Johnston from Craigavon

Stephen fell in with the wrong crowd when he was just 11. He started smoking drugs and shop lifting to feed his habit and was suspended from school a number of times for bad behaviour. He joined The Prince’s Trust Team programme and is now training as a youth worker and has completed a number of professional courses. He’s a regular volunteer with The Prince’s Trust, inspiring other young people as they join the Team programme.

Moy Park Young Ambassador – 30-year-old Claire Conway from Omagh

Claire has had a turbulent time since being diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2001 when she was just 21. Although successfully treated for her cancer, Claire was left feeling vulnerable after the experience and she began experiencing problems with depression.

Claire approached The Prince’s Trust for advice and support to start her own dog grooming business. She now runs a thriving business, employing one person on a part time basis and she has recently expanded to offering a dog walking service and has plans in the near future to offer a dog taxi service

Invest NI Enterprise Award – 26-year-old Carolann Carlisle from Dungiven

Carolann had a difficult time as a teenager, experimenting with alcohol and exhibiting disruptive tendencies. At 17 she was studying for A Levels when she discovered she was pregnant. As life became more stressful Carolann was unable to focus on her studies and she failed her exams.

Carolann heard about The Prince’s Trust and approached the youth charity about help in turning her flair for baking into a viable business. A small grant and a business loan helped Carolann to create her business – The Cupcake – a café and bakery in Main Street, Dungiven which has become a well loved institution in the town.

Belfast Telegraph Community Impact Award – D’Tach Youth from West Belfast

Nine young people from Ballymurphy’s Corpus Christi Youth Club aged between 17 and 19-years-old were all unemployed after attending alternative education provision. They applied to The Prince’s Trust for a Community Cash Award to develop a music production programme. The award allowed them to undertake a range of training workshops to develop their skills in DJing, MCing, lighting and mixing. They then used these new skills to run their own workshops for other young people in the community.

Titanic Quarter Flying Start – 21-year-old Thomas Mullan from Fintona

Thomas left school with few qualifications and was unemployed for two years. He had got himself into trouble, was charged with possession of drugs and sentenced to 140 hours of community service. Thomas joined The Princes Trust’s Team programme and emerged as a great motivator. He was excellent at encouraging others in the group and proved to be a natural communicator.

Once he completed the programme, Thomas gained his first temporary job at Clinton Cards in Omagh, helping out in the build up to Christmas. He was so impressive that the Manager offered him a permanent position. Thomas has also returned to study and has achieved a qualification in youth work. He plays an active part in his local community and volunteers as Chairman of the Fintona Town Youth Committee.

Breakthrough Award – 16-year-old Toni Surgeoner from Ballymena

Toni grew up in a turbulent environment and started truanting from school. Her social worker recommended The Prince’s Trust Get into Cooking programme to help give Toni a focus in life. Toni was totally committed to the programme and completed a 60 mile round trip each day by train. She gained valuable skills and certificates and has discovered a real passion for cooking as she embarks on a career in catering.

Northgate Managed Services Educational Achiever – 15-year-old Matthew Morrison from Rathcoole

Matthew had barely attended school for the past seven years. He was diagnosed with ADHD and faced difficulties in anger management, social interactions and cooperating with staff. Matthew’s outlook on school and life began to change when he joined The Prince’s Trust’s xl programme at Newtownabbey Education and Guidance Centre. Matthew’s attendance at school has significantly improved and now averages 82 per cent attendance over the last year.

The Prince’s Trust works with 14-to-30 year-olds who have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. In Northern Ireland, over 3,000 young people each year are supported through practical help including training, mentoring and financial assistance.

Ian Jeffers, Director of The Prince’s Trust Northern Ireland, said, “These awards give us a platform to celebrate the positive contribution of young people in our community. Their stories are inspirational and I am in awe of how they have overcome personal difficulties to turn their lives around. It is a pleasure to be part of a good news story about young people and I hope their stories will encourage others who are in a similar position to think about how they too can change their lives.”

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