On 24th November 2016, we celebrated in style at The Sage in Gateshead for The Prince's Trust and TK Maxx & HomeSense Celebrate Success Awards.

Each young person who has been nominated for Celebrate Success has a unique story. Be inspired by our North East Celebrate Success finalists. 

Young Achiever of the Year

The Young Achiever of the Year award, sponsored by TK Maxx and HomeSense, recognises the success of young people getting into employment, training or education and overcoming substantial barriers to transform their lives.

Winner: Patrick Hindess

Patrick and trophy

Patrick, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, didn’t recognise the depressed person he had become. He had experienced a difficult childhood, a stop-start relationship with education, and confined himself to his room where he took drugs and legal highs to escape his self-imposed isolation. Only when he had a fit did he realise that the drug taking had to stop. 

He began attending college and moved in with his girlfriend. However, after being unable to keep up with bill payments, he quit education to find work. It was then that he heard about The Trust’s Get into Retail programme. 

Having spent much of his teenage years alone in his room, Patrick initially struggled to interact with his course peers, so built his confidence through the hands-on aspects of the programme and impressed bosses with his work ethics. 

He now works on Tesco’s apprenticeship scheme, lives in a council house with his new family and says he is happier than he ever thought possible. 

Finalist: Paige O’Hara

Paige at Celebrate Success

Paige, 24, from Middlesbrough, wanted to follow her siblings into successful careers, but when she became a mother aged just 18, her priorities changed. She juggled childcare with college studies but became exhausted and when her course ended, she took time out. 

When her son reached school age, Paige began contemplating setting up a play park for preschool children and enrolled on The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme, but realised it was too big a challenge for her to take on.  Confused and not knowing what to do next, The Trust suggested she try Talent Match, an initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Talent Match revealed her deep seated passion for nursing.

Supported by Talent Match and The Trust, Paige began volunteering at a local hospital, completed an access course in Health and Social Care, and improved her English and Maths via The Trust’s Literacy, Language and Numeracy (LLN) course.  

She then secured part-time work in care and received an unconditional offer for a place at university, where she is now studying. 

Finalist: Steph Teale

Steph at Celebrate Success

Bullied for needing support from a learning assistant at college and suffering with extreme mood swings that hindered her everyday life, Steph, 25, from Newcastle, felt deeply insecure. She dropped out of college, isolated herself completely, and feared she’d never be good enough to get to university.

Feeling she had limited job options, Steph contacted The Prince’s Trust and signed up to the Fairbridge programme, but started worrying about some of the course’s physical challenges.

Working with Fairbridge staff, Steph broke the activities down into chunks so that they appeared more manageable, set herself several confidence-building goals and developed coping strategies that built her resilience around negative comments. She also regained control of her feelings. 

Steph left Fairbridge and returned to college without needing support, and completed her Level 3 in Product and Furniture Design.

She now has a fantastic circle of friends and a guaranteed place at university.

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Young Ambassador of the Year

The Young Ambassador of the Year award, sponsored by The Launch Group, recognises young people who are exceptional Young Ambassadors for The Trust. These young people volunteer their time to share their personal experiences and inspire others.

Winner: Abbie Westgate

Abbie at Celebrate Success

Abbie, 28, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, grew up in an area of serious crime, and had witnessed many traumatic incidents that affected her moods. By 16 she was homeless and later she was involved in an abusive relationship. Abbie faced eviction again after being forced to leave university because she could no longer support herself financially. 

Needing direction, she attended a job fair and came across The Prince’s Trust Team programme. 

Team became Abbie’s safe haven. She opened up to her leaders who helped her address her financial strains, found the confidence to leave her abusive relationship, and secured work. She also started taking karate lessons and helped raise thousands of pounds for The Trust by eloquently conveying her story as a Young Ambassador.

Finalist: Paul O’Sullivan

Paul at Celebrate Success

A zero-hours contract left Paul, 26, from Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham, reliant on food banks and family support. Lost, and ashamed, he closed the door on life and became overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. 

A Facebook advert promoting The Prince’s Trust Team programme, prompted him to sign up.

Supported by his Team Leader, Paul overcame his anxiety, rebuilt his confidence and started volunteering on other Prince’s Trust programmes. 

Seeing his potential as a leader, Paul was encouraged to apply for the role of Assistant Team Leader and successfully secured the post. Shortly afterwards, he became a Young Ambassador for The Trust, and delivered uplifting speeches about his journey to supporters, volunteers and young people. 

Happier, with a steady income and working in a job he loves helping other young people, Paul finally feels like he’s found his calling.

Finalist: Laura Burlison

Laura at Celebrate Success

Laura, 27, from High Spen, had worked hard pursuing a career in youth work, but cuts to the youth sector meant fewer openings. Unable to survive on the four-hour-a-week job she had secured, she packed her bags and went travelling, hoping for inspiration.

During her time overseas, Laura volunteered on an eco-farm and returned home hoping to turn her parents’ small-holding into a financially viable business. A family friend signposted her to the Enterprise programme and, with Prince’s Trust support, she launched The Paddock – an organic, home-grown fruit and vegetable delivery service.

Laura was then invited to be an inspirational speaker, which was an experience that prompted her to become a Young Ambassador for The Trust.

Generously giving her time to tell her story at awareness-building and fundraising events, Laura has inspired countless people about The Trust’s work, whilst simultaneously building her business. Demand for The Paddock is high and has now seen her take on two staff.

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Enterprise Award

The Enterprise Award, sponsored by NatWest, recognises young people who have overcome barriers and achieved success in creating a sustainable business or a community or social enterprise.

Winner: Adam Carter

Adam with his trophy

Adam, 24, from Stockton-on-Tees‎, was four when his parents separated and seven when his mother died. His brother and sister became his legal guardians and returned home from Australia to bring him up in the family home on a deprived street in Stockton. 

He struggled at school with dyslexia and left aged 15. A month later, his father died.

Adam gained several vocational qualifications, but ended up taking dead-end jobs just to make ends meet. Then, aged 21, he became a single father with joint custody of his son and new financial responsibilities.

Motivation has never been an issue for Adam. He needed a job that could fit around childcare and would still afford him quality father and son time – self employment seemed like the perfect solution. He joined the Enterprise programme and with The Prince’s Trust support launched his gardening business, Adam's Garden of Eden. 

Working tirelessly, Adam has built up a strong reputation and is now taking bookings three months in advance.  

Finalist: Elena Zeniou

Elena at Celebrate Success

Elena, 27, based in Teesside, had a condition which she refused to let stand in her way. She moved from Cyprus to the UK to study art aged 17, but struggled after two years of unstable employment. Elena also has a degenerative eye condition, which has also made her question pursuing a career in the arts.

Deciding she needed to make her own luck, she went online and enrolled onto The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme. She market-tested a business idea using a Will It Work grant, before changing tack, reworking her business plan to accommodate feedback and launched The Big Art Studio, an in-house art for wellbeing provider for people with mental health problems.

She also volunteered for local organisations and secured work that uncovered her passion for supporting vulnerable people and led her to review her career options one last time.

Elena now plans to run art for wellbeing sessions whilst she still has her sight, but is also studying psychology and working for a mental health charity.

Finalist: Megan Patrick

Megan at Celebrate Success

Megan, 27, from South Shields, had always wanted to be a dancer and even when she was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension - a condition that puts pressure on the optic nerves causing symptoms similar to a brain tumour - she refused to give up and secured a sought after place at a London dance school. 

In her second year, however, Megan’s circumstances changed and she was forced to drop out, unable to pay the fees. 

Hoping to be inspired, Megan studied her Level 3 in Beauty and saw a niche in the market for a dedicated brow bar. After successfully market-testing her idea at a local tanning shop, she signed up to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and launched Brow Wow, a specialist brow shaping and sculpting business.

Despite giving birth to her son and experiencing a relapse in her condition which means she now needs a lumbar puncture, Megan made her business a success and is now planning to expand and eventually take on staff.

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Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award, sponsored by BGL Group, recognises young people who, despite having faced substantial personal obstacles, are in sustainable employment as a result of a Prince’s Trust programme.

Winner: Natalie Hullah

Natalie, 26, from Middlesbrough, endured ten years of domestic violence before going to the police. Her partner received a prison sentence and although she was relieved that he was behind bars, the damage had already been done. Her confidence was shattered, and for the next two and a half years, she was unemployed and battling with depression. 

Natalie’s counsellor talked to her about The Prince’s Trust Get into Retail programme and although she was uncertain and extremely nervous, Natalie agreed to give it a go and enjoyed the routine and confidence it brought her.

She also gained hands-on retail experience, developed her interpersonal and communication skills, and earned certificates in Health and Safety, and Food Hygiene.

The change in Natalie has been enormous. Happy in herself, bubbly and surrounded by a great group of friends, Natalie has found direction. She currently works part-time at Tesco, and hopes to pursue her long-standing ambition of becoming an accountant.  

Finalist: Matthew Moore

Matthew at Celebrate Success

Matthew, 20, from Newcastle upon Tyne, barely said a word until he was 14. He suffers with Asperger’s and struggled to make friends. He then became depressed and angry after having to quit his job at a hotel because the long journeys and short shifts made it untenable.

His anger reached boiling point when he punched a wall so hard he injured his hand, and was referred to a psychologist.

Needing a distraction, Matty enrolled on The Prince’s Trust Get Started with Health and Fitness course. It gave him a healthy release for his anger and also saw him form friendships and design his own personal development fitness plan, which incorporated his passion for Tae Kwon Do. 

Inspired by what he had achieved, he signed up to The Trust’s Get into Hospitality course and impressed peers and managers so much, he was offered a job. 

Happier and calmer than he has ever felt, Matty sees his future at Costa and has recently been crowned British Taekwondo Champion.

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Community Impact Award

The Community Impact Award, sponsored by Greggs, recognises the positive contribution young people make to their local community.

Winner: Newcastle YMCA Team 1

Newcastle Team 1 with award

Elderly residents in Newcastle's Byker district enjoyed a slap up dinner at their community centre’s annual Christmas party thanks to the collaborative efforts of YMCA, Byker and the eight young people from The Prince’s Trust Team programme.

Fundraising for the party was first on the agenda, but with lack of confidence being a major issue for many of the young people, seeking donations from the public and local businesses was an enormous challenge, but one which they rose to. The members of Team 1 also booked entertainment and helped plan a Christmas menu within budget.

Their hands on approach was a hit on the night as they welcomed guests, helped prepare and serve food, hosted games of bingo, and raised £224.67 from the raffle which they donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

Motivated by what they had achieved, Team 1 committed wholeheartedly to the rest of the programme and have since gone on to pursue employment, training or further education. 

Finalist: Newcastle YMCA Team 3

Newcastle Team 3 at Celebrate Success

A community centre hall staffed entirely by volunteers received an uplifting facelift thanks to the efforts of young people on The Prince’s Trust Team programme. 

Team 3 visited a number of potential community projects and unanimously voted to support the Byker Community Centre - a much-loved centre that was badly in need of renovation work. 

In just ten days, they had assessed and budgeted for the work, liaised with the centre's volunteers on colour schemes, cleared and prepped the room for painting and had completely transformed the entire hall into a warm and welcoming space. 

They also gave the centre’s volunteers valuable insights into activities that would attract more young people to the hall.

The work these young people carried out has made a huge impact at the Byker Community Centre – not only does it have a fantastic new look, but it has seen an increase in bookings for community-focused activities, including those which are attracting more young people than ever before. 

Finalist: Year 10 Alt-Ed Redhouse Academy

The five young people, aged 14-15, from Redhouse Academy in Sunderland - all of whom had been excluded from mainstream education - pooled their creative talents during The Prince’s Trust xl (now known as Achieve) programme to benefit homeless animals at a nearby rescue centre.

Raising money for their project by selling unwanted books and toys, they worked up some designs, bought soft paw-patterned material and stuffing and took a crash course on sewing before using their teacher's sewing machine to make a variety of luxury pet beds. 

The beds were welcome additions at the centre, where the animals sniffed and pawed their approval before settling down to a sound sleep.

The young people truly embraced the idea of helping others during their community project. Not only did they support the rescue centre, they gave a carol concert at a local residential home and organised a project to help their local homeless community – a humbling experience that saw them reflect on life, their perceptions of others and their attitudes towards them.

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Breakthrough Award

The Breakthrough Award, sponsored by HSBC, recognises the progress of young people in overcoming barriers and developing new skills.

Winner: Sharelle Scullion

Sharelle with her award

Sharelle, 25, from Gateshead, lost her father when she was just three years-old. When she was four she moved in with her grandparents but suffered from mental and physical abuse at school. Drama lessons became her comfort and her means to escape, but in real life she was suffering with depression and anxiety, desperate to feel loved. 

She met the father of her children following a string of unhealthy relationships, and although she found the acceptance she had craved, she needed relief from her role as carer for her children and her partner, who suffers from social agoraphobia. That’s when she saw a poster advertising Get Started with Drama.

Fighting against her anxiety, Sharelle completed The Prince’s Trust programme feeling like a different person: lighter, happier and less anxious. She began volunteering at youth workshops with Live Theatre and used a Development Award from The Trust to enrol on a performing arts course.

Eventually she would like to become a youth or drama worker and use her experiences to help others. 

Finalist: Rhiannon Pounder

Rhiannon, 24, from South Tyneside, struggled following the breakdown of a difficult relationship and received counselling for post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety became a shadow, wreaking havoc on all aspects of Rhiannon’s life. Rhiannon couldn’t hold down jobs, struggled with gender dysmorphia, and worried about never finding a job to feel safe and comfortable in.  

Jobcentre Plus suggested Rhiannon enrol on The Prince’s Trust Get into Hospitality programme. It immediately struck a chord and when anxiety issues flared during a placement at one of Costa’s busiest outlets, Rhiannon didn’t drop out but instead persevered and asked to move to a quieter store. 

Able to learn the ropes in a less hectic environment, Rhiannon grew more confident, impressed managers with the use of initiative and built a rapport with customers. 

Feeling supported and more confident, Rhiannon now works at Costa permanently finally feeling on the right path and plans to build a career within the company.

Finalist: Danielle Duffy

Danielle at Celebrate Success

Danielle, 25, from North Shields, was placed into care aged 10 following a troubled childhood. Within a year she was using substances to escape, and by 18, she was suffering with addictions. Danni was at her limit and attempted suicide several times. 

When she awoke in hospital, she realised it was time to change, took time out to get clean, and joined The Prince’s Trust Get Started with Hair and Makeup programme.  

Some days were tougher than others but Danni completed the course and blew everyone away with her end of programme speech, including a representative from Jobcentre Plus who invited her for an interview. 

Using a Development Award from The Trust to buy formal work clothes, Danni aced the interview and now works full-time. She says she is excited about her future and finally feels happy. 

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Educational Achiever of the Year

The Educational Achiever of the Year award, sponsored by Newcastle City Council, recognises young people who have overcome barriers, developed new skills and improved their education prospects.

Winner: Rian Aldred

Rian with his trophy

Anger got the better of Rian, 15, from Gateshead. Refusing to talk about his problems, he lashed out, was expelled from mainstream school and sent to a pupil referral unit. He lost his friends, argued with his mother and fell badly behind with his education.

His teachers suggested he enrol on the Fairbridge Under 16 programme and although his behaviour was very up and down, particularly when he found something difficult, Rian enjoyed Fairbridge. He engaged with the activities, was consistently positive during one-to-one sessions and matured into a confident and positive role model who proactively supported his peers.

His behaviour and attitude towards school improved as a result and he has now been sent to a school for higher achievers. 

On track to gain all his GCSEs, Rian now has plenty of friends and holds himself with a fantastic air of confidence. He has a 96 per cent attendance record at school and hopes to gain an apprenticeship as a bricklayer.  

Finalist: Laura Million

Laura at Celebrate Success

Talented artist, Laura, 20, from Newcastle upon Tyne, is dyslexic and struggled at school. Although she achieved well in her GCSEs, she didn’t achieve the grades she had hoped for in English and, after being unable to keep up with work at college, she developed depression, suffered panic attacks and dropped out. 

West End Youth Enquiry Service suggested she try The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme, and – with the support of staff and her partner - she soon settled in and found it to be a place where she felt like “a leader, not a follower”.

She was assigned a Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) tutor to help her develop strategies to manage her dyslexia, and grew so much in confidence that she agreed to sit her first OCR qualification assessment, and passed. 

Laura has now completed her Level 2 in English and is working full-time. Laura plans to go to college in the future.

Finalist: Tom Rebair

Tom at Celebrate Success

When his heartbeat dropped to 18 beats per minute, Tom, 21, from Newcastle upon Tyne, was rushed into hospital care and slept with the crash trolley by his bed. His dyslexia had made him feel like a failure so he stopped eating properly, over-exercised and eventually collapsed, suffering with anorexia. 

Eventually Tom was discharged, but his confidence was low and he often experienced anxiety attacks. 

Newcastle West Community Health referred him to The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme where he pushed himself to achieve, and flourished. He strengthened his resilience and social skills, was supported with his dyslexia by a Prince’s Trust’s Language, Literacy and Numeracy tutor and finally unlocked his potential. 

Today, Tom is moving forward. He has strategies in place to manage his dyslexia, is studying for his GCSEs, and plans to progress to university with a view to a career in the NHS. He also volunteers with several charities.

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