The Prince of Wales will attend a very special awards ceremony on Monday afternoon to recognise young people who have overcome serious disadvantages to turn their lives around. At the Prince's Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards, hosted by Ant and Dec at the London Palladium, Prince Charles and a star-studded audience will hear how the youth charity he founded 40 years ago has helped them beat abuse, drug addiction, homelessness, depression and unemployment.
Seven awards will be presented by celebrity guests, and Prince's Trust ambassadors including singer and Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, magician Dynamo, former Spice Girl Geri Horner, adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls, boxer David Haye, and actors Samantha Bond and Laurence Fox.
Among them is the Delta Rising Star Award, in association with HELLO! for which three young men – Alex Smillie, Craig Walker and Faisal Ahmed have been nominated. Read their inspiring stories here:
Alex, who has autism and a stammer, attended a special needs school from the age of 11 after struggling socially. Although he left 6th form and college with good qualifications, he found interviews, team work and comprehension real challenges that held him back. After two years unemployed, he struggled to leave the house and engage with other people.
Alex was referred to the Princes Trust Get into Logistics programme, run in conjunction with DHL, which helps unemployed young people find work in the industry. With support for his disability provided by the Trust, Alex soon felt comfortable and was able to integrate with others and learn about operations at DHL. With his confidence growing he became more independent, taking more decisions for himself and at the end of the course was offered a role in the operations department where he currently works.
"If The Princes Trust had not helped me I would not have a job," said Alex. "I would be playing X Box in my bedroom because that's what I like to do. Even though I have to get up at 5 in the morning, I am happy because I finish at 2 and I am earning money and am more independent – this is because I had the help from DHL and from The Prince’s Trust."
Craig, 25, from Coleraine, Londonderry was eight when he saw his father stab his mother to death. The effect it had on him devastated his life. He left school at 13 and sought comfort in alcohol. Aged 20, he became a father to a little girl named Zara in memory of his mother.
Zara gave Craig a reason to live and he found temporary bar work, but a year later the bar closed down. His search for new work failed and when his grandmother died, Craig hit a new low. Haunted by memories of his mother's death, he became agoraphobic and couldn’t leave his house for three years. Craig realised he had to change things for his daughter’s sake.
He said: "Zara looked at me and said, 'Daddy, can I have an icecream' and I just felt so useless and ashamed. I had no money and couldn't get her one. Seeing her face crumble made me realise I had to turn my life around, for her sake and for my family." Craig found out about and joined Make Your Mark, a four-week employability programme run in partnership by The Prince's Trust and Marks & Spencer.
The scheme taught him many transferable skills and boosted his confidence and self-esteem and he ended it a changed and employed man. He now works full time at Marks & Spencer and was recently named employee of the month. He enjoys his work, has direction and, for the first time, is well on his way to achieving his goals of owning a family home and car.
Craig says: "It's been 17 years since my mum died, and for the first time since then I feel like I've got a future I can actually look forward to. The Prince's Trust gave me a second chance at life. They gave me and my family hope and as a consequence of that second chance, I’ve now got a job I love and a new home."
Craig plans to work his way up in Marks & Spencer and give his family a happy and healthy life.
Arriving in Scotland from Bangladesh aged just seven, Faisal spoke no English and suffered years of bullying and racism. His world was turned upside down when he was told his mother was actually his stepmother and his birth mother was in Scotland.
Faisal, 25, from Edinburgh, tracked his mother down but discovered she was struggling with a drug problem and had major mental health issues.
Tragically two weeks after meeting her son she died in a house fire due caused by a discarded cigarette.
Despite this loss, watching the health team look after his mum so caringly inspired him to help others in the same way.
He joined the Prince's Trust Get into Healthcare programme and became one of the top trainees. As a result, NHS Lothian offered him a role in Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, as a Domestic Support Service Assistant.
He now has his sights set firmly on a career in mental health.
"To have the chance to honour my mum’s memory by helping others is incredible, but it wouldn’t have been possible without The Prince's Trust," said Faisal.
Geri Horner, a long-standing Prince’s Trust ambassador, said: "I am very proud to be presenting one of these remarkable young people with an award at The Prince's Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards. The courage they have all shown to turn their lives around is so inspiring and they deserve all the praise they can get."
David Haye, who became and ambassador just before Christmas, said: "I have been amazed by the incredible work The Trust has been doing over the last 40 years. The Prince's Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards are an opportunity not only to honour those young people who have turned their lives around but also to inspire other young people to take that first step and get in touch with The Prince's Trust."
British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake, who is also a Prince's Trust ambassador, has recorded a message from space, which will be played to the audience. Dynamo will perform several magic stunts during the ceremony.
Over the last four decades, The Prince's Trust has given more than 825,000 disadvantaged young people the skills and confidence to find a job. Three in four young people helped by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.