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Harry hails inspirational young leaders at Palace awards ceremony

Published 24/06/2016

The Queen greets former Prime Minister Sir John Major and David Beckham at the awards ceremony
The Queen greets former Prime Minister Sir John Major and David Beckham at the awards ceremony

Prince Harry and football star David Beckham have hailed inspirational young people from across the Commonwealth as role models to others as their achievements were honoured by the Queen.

Harry described the 60 winners of the Queen's Young Leaders Awards as "an inspiration to so many" when they received medals for showing exceptional leadership in their communities.

Beckham said he hoped his children would look up to those being honoured during the Buckingham Palace ceremony.

The footballer, who attended the inaugural awards ceremony last year, said: "I want my children to be inspired by these guys, whatever they want to be, to be honest, as long as they have dreams, aspirations and what better people to look at than these young women and men."

The award recognises the exceptional leadership of young people from across the Commonwealth's member states and Harry paid his own tribute to the Queen for her role leading the nation.

During the presentation ceremony led by the Queen, he said: "I have been extremely fortunate to meet many exceptional people over the years, but none more so than Her Majesty The Queen.

"As the head of the Commonwealth, the Nation, the Armed Forces and our Family, I - like millions of others across the world - have been able to look to her for inspiration and guidance.

"The Queen, who assumed the challenge of leadership at such a young age, has shown us all the importance of selfless commitment and service. She is the example I aspire to and the standard by which I will judge my contribution."

Harry told the winners gathered in the Palace's ballroom: "The Queen's Young Leaders award recognises what you have achieved, not for yourselves, but for your communities, for your peers, and for those less fortunate.

"Your service spans a broad spectrum of fields from HIV and sexual health education, to micro finance and the recycling of hi-tech waste.

"You have already been an inspiration to so many, but I hope this award will inspire you to go out and achieve even greater things in the future, empowered by the network of leaders you now sit amongst."

Sir Lenny Henry, who joined guests including former prime minister Sir John Major, paid tribute to outstanding young people from across the globe honoured for doing "good in their communities" by the Queen.

The comic and actor said: "It's fantastic they're from all over the Commonwealth and they've done amazing things like utilising chickens for equity and LGBT stuff and entrepreneurial stuff in their neighbourhoods."

Beckham was asked about his thoughts on England's Euro2016 campaign and said: "I think we're going to be due a big performance."

Speaking about the experience of visiting Buckingham Palace, he added: "Just being here, it gives me goose bumps driving through the gate and I've been here a couple of times and every time I come here it's something so special."

Over a four year period to 2018 the awards project will honour 60 inspirational individuals, aged 18 to 29, from across the globe who will receive a Queen's Young Leaders Award.

Award winners will receive a tailored package of training, mentoring and networking, and be provided with a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will receive their award.

The programme has been established by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and run in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society and the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education, in recognition of the monarch's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.

Among the winners celebrated for their achievements was David Morfaw, 22, from Cameroon, who as a child watched his parents struggle to buy food and pay his school fees.

Despite having health problems and being dyslexic, David started his first micro-business aged eight selling water.

In 2011 he created Poult-Vault, a social enterprise which tackles the problems of malnutrition and hunger by supplying chickens as interest-free loans to women and young people.

The owners can then sell their produce to pay for the chickens. David also created a barter system so farmers can pay for their children's education using crops.

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