Ten years ago, Kevin Spacey presented Sara Lyttle with a Celebrate Success Award, after her school attendance sky-rocketed from 20 to 97 per cent.
Sara, 26, grew up in a deprived area of Dundee and regularly got into trouble at secondary school. She had very low attendance, was excluded a number of times and was officially identified as a pupil with behavioural difficulties. With little respect for authority at that time, it was difficult to see how Sara’s situation would improve.
When Sara joined a Prince’s Trust xl club– for young people at risk of underachievement or exclusion from school – she was not convinced they would be able to help.
Sara said: “At that time in my life I was angry, confused and lacking in direction. I was in trouble at school and spent most of my spare time drinking with my mates. My behaviour had a big impact on my relationship with my mum and I left home aged 15 to live with my sister.”
However, the longer Sara spent on The Prince’s Trust two-year programme, the more she began to engage with her education.
With a newfound respect for education Sara’s attendance sky-rocketed from 20 to 97 per cent. She made new friends at xl, her behaviour improved and so did her relationship with her mum. Sara’s remarkable turnaround impressed everyone so much that she was nominated for the xl Achiever of the Year award at the first ever Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards.
Sara said: “I was 16 at the time and I remember feeling really excited to find out that I had been nominated for the award but I also felt a bit bewildered. I didn’t think I deserved it.”
Sara attended the star-studded ceremony in London’s Leicester Square and was thrilled to find out she had won. She was presented her award by HRH The Prince of Wales and Kevin Spacey.
After sitting her exams, Sara went on to get a full-time job working in the office of a construction company. Aged 20, she fell pregnant and gave birth to her son. However, the company was in trouble and shortly after returning from maternity leave, Sara was made redundant.
Keen to provide the best life possible for her and her son, Sara completed an access course, which enabled her to start studying for a degree.
When she graduates, Sara hopes to go on to do a postgraduate course in teaching.
Sara said: “If it wasn’t for The Prince’s Trust xl programme, I wouldn’t have thought about education in the way that I do now. I wouldn’t have sat my exams at school or got a job afterwards, I think I would have just signed on. Essentially, I wouldn’t have had any ambitions.