20 OCTOBER 2005

Click here to send this news item to a friend Welsh opera sensation Katherine Jenkins has already picked up quite a few gongs over the course of her career, but she has not forgotten the royal honour that came her way long before she found fame. The 25-year-old singer, who was looking her usual glamorous self at the Duke of Edinburgh Awards on Wednesday night, revealed she received one of the prizes many years ago. Katherine met up with Prince Philip and the Earl of Wessex when she attended a gala bash marking 50 years of the scheme. Looking around the sumptuous ballroom of Buckingham Palace, she must have been reminded of how far she has come since she earned a Duke of Edinurgh Award all those years ago. "Believe it or not, I worked as a bingo caller for my Silver award community service," explained the performer. "I picked up all the lingo – two fat ladies and all that – very quickly. It was a great laugh."

Fame and fortune obviously haven't changed the chanteuse too much, though, as she confessed to feeling rather nervous about her lunch with the Queen earlier in the day. "I've been having nightmares at the thought of sitting there chatting to her with a piece of spinach in my teeth," she joked.

The monarch's husband, who set up the scheme to encourage enterprise amongst youngsters in 1956, must have been delighted to see a former recipient enjoying such success. Wednesday's gala also gave him the chance to meet up with award-holders David Hempleman-Adams, who went on to become a polar explorer, and TV presenter Alice Beer. "The point is that young people are the same as they always were," said the royal. "The conditions in which they are living have changed but the principle of learning what goes on in the world is just the same."

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Photo: © Alphapress.com
The opera singer has come a long way since her days as a bingo caller. "I picked up all the lingo – two fat ladies and all that – very quickly," she recalled. "It was a great laugh"Photo: © AFP
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Prince Philip chats with Alicia Hempleman-Adams who, at 15, has become the youngest person to travel to the North Pole across Canada's Baffin Islands. Her father, the much-celebrated explorer David Hempleman-Adams, said he owed everything to the Duke of Edinburgh Award he received as a young manPhoto: © AFP
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