Junior Frood might be only 12-years-old, but he has already had a pretty incredible life. After being bullied at school, the young man rose up against adversity to raise hundreds of thousands for charity, went on tour with Justin Bieber after being selected from 10,000 candidates, and was awarded The Diana Award for Courageous Citizen for his fundraising work. HELLO! caught up with Junior and his mum Kerry to chat about his journey, and about the huge honour of being a part of Diana's legacy.
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Chatting about the moment he heard that he had won the Diana Courageous Citizen category of the esteemed awards, Junior said: "It was really amazing because I didn't think I could win that award... I was really chuffed and excited that I won the award and it's a big honour to win it. [My parents] were very proud of me." His mum Kerry added: "We couldn't believe it, we were absolutely shocked. It was the high school that nominated him because of all of his charity work and overcoming the bullying, but you don't imagine getting an award like that. It meant a lot to Junior because he's a huge fan of the royal family."
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However, things haven't always gone so well for the Junior. While at primary school, the youngster was bullied about his love of dancing, and he spoke about how difficult the experience was. "I used to get bullied because I danced and they thought boys couldn’t dance – they thought it was just girls," he explained. "So they used to call me names and kick and punch me and stuff. It got that bad that we had to move house. It's all good now because I moved schools and now I'm at high school and they all support my dancing."
Despite these difficulties, Junior persevered with his love of dance, and Kerry spoke proudly about his achievements. She said: "He's never given up. He's been through so much and you could probably feel that he would probably give in with the dancing because of all the harassment and bullying he was getting. But it actually made him more determined to be a dancer and to show people that he can achieve what he wants to achieve. He's never given up."
Although Princess Diana died several years before Junior was born, the dancing star is well-aware of her charity work throughout her life, and what being a part of her legacy means. "I know that she was very passionate about her work," he said. "I know she cared a lot about children. I know she wanted to change the world. It means a lot because I can carry on with her legacy and make the world better for the next generation." His mum said: "Honestly, he was literally in tears when he found out he got it. Everybody knows Princess Diana and all the work that she did, so to be associated with her and the Diana Award is absolutely amazing."
The Diana Award has achieved so much, and you can help! With a £30 donation, you can help to give a young person the skills, confidence and resilience to stand up to bullying through specialised training, give a vulnerable young person a mentor, and contribute towards to Award Programme, which rewards and celebrates a young person making a positive change in the world. Check out www.justgiving.com/dianaaward to find out more.