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August 28, 2002
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As the fifth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death approaches, 11 disadvantaged youngsters have gathered to talk about how the charity fund that bears her name has changed their lives for the better.

The group of young people, who received commemorative coins on a trip to the London Eye yesterday, have all reaped the benefits of organisations given grants by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. And the stories they recount are as diverse as the accomplished young people, aged 15 to 25, who tell them.

One teen, Dean Simpson, is at college studying painting and decorating thanks to Breaking Barriers, employment project for the disabled, while Northern Ireland’s Stephen Campbell, 22, who is autistic, now spends three days a week on work placement thanks to a development programme under the VOTE project.

Another young man, Kosovo immigrant Fatos Derguit, couldn’t speak English when he arrived in Britain, but, aided by the Albanian Youth Action Group, he is now studying at Imperial College in London after gaining A grades at A level in physics and chemistry and a B in maths. Twenty-five-year-old Lizzie Emeh, who is unable to read or write, has achieved her dream of becoming a singer after being spotted by Heart 'n' Soul, a charity for people with learning disabilities. Her next goal is to be able to write down her own songs.

“It’s a really good cause and we are really happy for the funding we’ve had. It’s helped us so much,” says Southeast London teenagers Gemma and James Fitzpatrick, whose father is in jail. The siblings were aided by the Federation of Prisoners’ Families Support Groups and now work with the organisation to help others.

“The young voices belong to marginalised young people whom the fund has helped to overcome stigma and take their place in society,” says the fund’s chief executive Andrew Purkis. “They symbolise that, five years on from the Princess’s death, her inspiration continues in people’s lives. We are here to continue her work.”

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Photo: ©
The 11 young people who have been helped by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund “symbolise that, five years on from the Princess’ death, her inspiration continues in people’s lives,” says the charity's chief executive Andrew PurkisPhoto: © PA
Photo: ©
In 2002, Diana's fund will have pledged over £50 million in grants to more than 300 organisations