Stuart Banks, 26 from Kilmarnock, had been unemployed for a year when he turned to The Prince’s Trust for help in August 2013.
He had left school at just 14 following the tragic death of his father, and with no qualifications or work experience, he struggled to find a job. Between the ages of 15 and 23 he was in and out of work, experiencing long periods of unemployment between temporary, part-time jobs.
“I had pretty low expectations for my future,” admits Stuart, who became so depressed while he was out of work that he rarely left the house. “I would hand out my CV to employers but I never expected to get much of a response.”
However, Stuart was desperate to get his life on track and wanted to try anything he could to get into work. He heard about a Prince’s Trust course called Get into Hospitality through his local JobCentre Plus, and decided it was worth a try.
The course took place at Dumfries House, the 18th Century stately home in Ayrshire, Scotland, that has been restored by HRH The Prince of Wales. As part of the course, Stuart got the chance to try out various roles, gaining skills and experience in catering and events. He made such an impression that, by the end of the course, he received three job offers.
Stuart took on a role in the events team at Dumfries House, a place he describes as 'really special'. Then, six months later, he was offered a role as a personal butler to HRH The Prince of Wales, still based at Dumfries House.
“It was an amazing opportunity, and I jumped at it with both feet,” he says.
In the last year, Stuart has had the opportunity to do a week’s placement at Sandringham, and has visited other Royal households to learn from more experienced staff members. He has also been getting involved in running events at Dumfries House, gaining valuable management experience.
“Now I’m doing welcome speeches to guests at Dumfries House and speaking to members of the royal family. I am much more independent – I’ve moved into my own accommodation, I’ve learnt to drive and have been able to go on holiday. It’s a world away from where I was before, and I’m incredibly grateful to The Prince’s Trust and Dumfries House for giving me this amazing opportunity.”