Each young person who has been nominated for a Prince's Trust Award has a unique story. Be inspired by our award winners.  

Young Achiever of the Year

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

Ryan Pleijzier

"Mum died when I was 21; my sister was 15 and the authorities wanted to put her into care almost 100 miles away from our home. There was no way I was going to let that happen, so I gave up my place at college and started looking after my sister instead."

"We didn't have much money and I often relied on charity food parcels to get us fed. It was a real struggle. I was grieving for my mum, trying to parent my sister; I developed depression and anxiety and basically became a recluse."

"A mate messaged me about Get into Cooking and despite my doubts and nerves, I said I’d give it a chance."

"The skills, the training, and the qualifications I gained all helped crank up my confidence and when I got offered a job following a work placement I’d done in a hotel kitchen, I couldn’t believe it!"

"That was two years ago, and I'm still there. Because of The Prince’s Trust, I’ve discovered talents I didn’t know I had; and because of that, life’s not so bleak anymore. I’m back to my old self and me and my sister are financially stable."

"Alongside my job in the kitchen, I've completed formal catering training at college, and I’m now hoping to work my way up to a chef position. Eventually, I'd love to run my own kitchen business.”

Ryan is a truly inspiring young man and is a very deserving winner of the Northern Ireland Young Achiever Award. He should be very proud and we’re sure he will continue to thrive. Well done Ryan!

- Louise Greenlees, President, TK Maxx and Homesense 

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Breakthrough Award 

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

Lucy Grainger

"I saw my dad die from a heart attack when I was three; by the age of 10, I had experienced serious trauma; I was also anorexic and I’d started to self-harm."

"My anorexia turned to bulimia by 13; I was so unhappy within my own skin, I tried to take my own life, and I kept on trying. I lost friends to suicide and spent four years sleeping on friend’s sofas and going in and out of psychiatric wards where I was eventually diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder."

"A friend worked for The Prince’s Trust and thought Team might be good for me as I’d never had any luck with jobs or courses before."

“Team was refreshing. I made two great friends, did a brilliant work placement with

NIACRO, and loved our community challenge at a residential home so much that I still visit the residents even now."

“When it came to setting career goals, I wanted to use my experiences to help others, and that’s what I do and that’s what I do now. I volunteer with a suicide charity called PIPS delivering peer-to-peer advice and support on mental health to children and young people throughout Northern Ireland."

“Not so long ago, I was stuck in a dark hole but The Trust opened a door and helped me find my place in the world. I haven’t had an incident in three months and feel really, really happy."

The HSBC UK Breakthrough Award recognises the outstanding progress of young people who have overcome extraordinary challenges to develop new skills and reach their potential. Lucy is the incredibly worthy winner of this year’s award. Congratulations Lucy.

- Ian Stuart, CEO, HSBC UK

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Young Ambassador of the Year

The Belfast City Council Young Ambassador Award 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.

Christine Norrie 

"I'd led quite a hedonistic lifestyle before I fell pregnant with my first child. I wasn't interested in school, and started drinking when I was 15. I struggled with my mental health and eating disorders and at 18 I was pregnant with my first child. I now have three children; two were so premature they ended up in intensive care."

“I went into survival mode. I was a single mum to three children, struggling to make ends meet and the huge costs of childcare were a real barrier to being able to find work until my eldest two children started school.”

“Although I managed to get a job, it was only a temporary contract and when I was let go I remember going back to the JobCentre so down. As fate would have it, someone from The Prince's Trust was there and persuaded me to join Team - they even paid for my childcare so I could go!”

""Being around the other young people made me realise I wanted to work in the youth sector; once again, The Trust stepped up to support me, this time with a Development Award to study my Level 2 Youth Work.”

“I’m now working as an Assistant Team Leader, and also became a Young Ambassador to spread the word about mental health and The Trust’s brilliant work."

"I feel so lucky to be where I am now. My children are happier, I'm in a job that I love and I am genuinely optimistic about our future.”

The council is proud to be a key partner of The Prince’s Trust in nurturing the talents of young people. This award is about acknowledging young people who have overcome barriers to transform their lives and who now use their experiences to inspire others and Christine is a worthy winner.

- Cllr Donal Lyons, Chair of City Growth and Regeneration Committee

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Enterprise Award 

The Ulster Bank Enterprise Award recognises young people who have overcome barriers and achieved success in creating a sustainable business or a community or social enterprise.

Jemma McGrath

"I grew up in a community filled with religious and racial hate, and fought my way through life. I worked in Care but used drugs and alcohol out of hours, and let my life spiral out of control when dad died."

"I tried turning my life around and went to study makeup at college but then I was shot nine times, left with multiple broken bones, and told I'd never walk again. My body was - and still is - held together by pins; and my post traumatic stress gave me such severe panic attacks I thought I was dying."

“Therapists tried their best, but I realised no-one could change my mindset but me. So I set myself some goals: to become a professional makeup artist and to walk my friend down the aisle."

"I walked three months later, then began honing my makeup skills through social media before taking my friend's advice and going on Enterprise."

"Within four months I’d launched #makeupurlife, a makeup, microblading and inspirational speaking business; I also smashed my first year's targets and got nominated for an Irish Beauty Award!"

"It hasn't been easy, but thanks to The Trust I've got a career helping people feel good about themselves and a future that makes me excited when I wake up in the morning. Face your fears, live your dream, go for it - that's my motto!"

For 18 years Ulster Bank has worked in partnership with The Prince’s Trust through its Enterprise programme. Together we celebrate young people’s entrepreneurial spirit and help turn their ideas into a sustainable business or social enterprise. We are proud to sponsor the Enterprise Award and recognise those who have overcome significant challenges in their path to success. Jemma truly deserves this award and we wish them a very bright future.”

- Richard Donnan, Head of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank


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Rising Star Award

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

Sharelle McDowell

"I was six when me and my brothers and sisters went into different care placements; we didn't even get the chance to say goodbye."

"The other kids laughed at me because I was a foster kid; they said I was ugly and unlovable. I hated it and I hated school; I left with poor grades, no confidence and zero motivation. College wasn’t much better; I didn’t finish a single course and started staying out all night drinking to try to fit in. I was no use to anyone."

“One of my biggest fears was meeting new people, so when my family suggested I went on a Prince's Trust course, I was petrified."

“But right from that first call to say I’d got a place on Make Your Mark, everything changed. Their confidence in me made me think I could do it."

“Make Your Mark made me realise that the thing I used to dread – meeting new people – was something I excelled at. It also taught me transferable skills in a hands-on way and led to a job with Marks and Spencer."

“I used to believe nothing good would happen to me, but thanks to The Prince's Trust, I've started a new life. I've been reunited with my siblings, I work in hospitality, have a supportive partner and I’m expecting our first baby. Even I’m proud of myself.”

We’re so proud to present this award to Sharelle. We’re so impressed by the marvellous young people who thrive in association with The Trust’s guidance. Sharelle and indeed all the winners are an inspiration to us all and an enduring endorsement of the positive impact of The Prince’s Trust.

- Ruth Cunningham, HR Business Partner of Devenish ​

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Community Impact Award

The Dell EMC Community Impact Award recognises the positive contribution young people make to their local community.

Team 34

“Suicide is a big killer where we live. In fact every single one of us had been affected by it. We wanted it to stop."

"We contacted PIPS, a local suicide prevention charity, and they told us that most of the community programmes were designed by adults, for adults; it was obvious we needed one for young people." 

"We called our programme HOPE, which stands for Hold On, Pain Ends, and created powerpoint presentations, videos and breakout activities designed to help build young people's resilience and their ability to support each other.” – Laura, Team 34  

"Getting word out about HOPE was important, so we organised a launch night and got it promoted via PIPS and other organisations to inspire as many people as possible to come.

"It went down really well - better than we expected - and we were invited to deliver it to several youth groups and present it to local media, authorities and businesses; and because we wanted to do a good job and give it legs for the future, we got formal teacher training by taking our Level 3 Teaching and Learning!” – Matthew, Team 34

“HOPE is now being delivered all over Northern Ireland as there is no other programme like it. It was a pretty amazing thing to be a part of. In fact, Team was an amazing thing to be a part of.” - Aoife, Team 34

I am proud to congratulate Team 34 for successfully winning the Community Impact Award. They have demonstrated how working together they can make a positive difference to their community whilst also learning new skills themselves. Well done to the thoroughly deserving team!

- Dayne Turbitt, Senior Vice President, Dell EMC

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Educational Achiever of the Year

The Ascential Educational Achiever Award recognises young people who have overcome barriers, developed new skills and improved their education prospects."

Ruth Pillar

“I’ve always found school a struggle, I have learning difficulties which made it hard for me to do well."

"My teachers were worried I'd end up leaving school with no qualifications or skills. I was also very shy and needed help from an adult just to get through breaks and lunchtimes."

"My life revolved around my family and church. I didn't really experience anything else, so the thought of finishing school and getting a job hadn't even occurred to me."

“My school put me on The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme. It was an advantage for me to do it and helped me a lot."

“I made friends through the projects we did and I got work experience at a mother and toddler group, and at a charity shop near my home."

"I needed lots of help before The Prince's Trust, but now I do a lot independently. I help at school with charity events and I like talking to the principal and my new group of friends. I can work independently too, and I’ve passed all my Achieve units."

“At the moment, I’m doing a placement at a day nursery, and one day I’m going to get a permanent job in childcare."

“We’re honoured to present the Northern Ireland Educational Achiever award to Ruth this year. She should be proud of her progress and what they have achieved. We wish her every success for the future.”

- Natasha Christie-Miller, CEO, Ascential Intelligence

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