The Prince of Wales appeared visibly moved as he attended The Prince's Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards 2021 at St James's Palace on Thursday.
Prince Charles, 72, heard inspiring stories from the young award winners, who have overcome challenges such as homelessness, poor mental health and unemployment with support from The Prince's Trust.
Among them was 20-year-old Aidan Sayers from Darlington, who turned his life around from being an unemployed teenager excluded from school, to someone who now has a home, car and a job, thanks to support from the Trust.
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Aidan was presented with the Ascential Educational Achiever Award by Charles and became emotional as he thanked his Prince's Trust mentor Claire McGarvey, telling her: "I've got as much love for you as my grandma."
In his speech, the Prince praised the winners for their achievements, saying: "After what seems like an incredibly long time, and it really is marvellous to be together again, in person, after this delay of 18 months or so with this dreadful pandemic, and to share in the celebrations of all these wonderful young people.
"I find their stories have moved me, made me laugh and cry. I can't tell you how proud I am of all of them and what they represent in terms of the incredible amount of effort and determination they've put into all this – and to win the awards!
The Prince appeared moved by Aidan Sayers' story
"Which also, I think, says an awful lot about the Prince's Trust team, all those people who spend an enormous amount of time helping to build self-confidence and self-esteem amongst so many young people."
Thursday's Trophy Ceremony marked the first time the winners came together in person, after being recognised as part of a virtual awards broadcast hosted by Ant and Dec earlier this year.
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The Prince meeting Hugh Dennis, Kate Garraway and Colin Salmon
A whole host of celebrity ambassadors also attended the awards at St James's Palace, including Richard E. Grant, Kate Garraway, Gaby Roslin, Hugh Dennis and Fearne Cotton, who hosted proceedings.
Comedian Hugh Dennis admitted he had a "little weep at one point" during the ceremony and praised the work of the charity, telling HELLO!: "I've supported The Prince's Trust for quite a few years now. I just think they do such a fantastic job because there are so many barriers to success for young people.
"The Prince's Trust just helps them through, it's just fantastic to see the stories and how they work out, and how success comes, and the different forms of success, whether it's setting up businesses or wellbeing, they're supported from underneath and it's an amazing network they've got."
The Prince's Trust gives young people the skills and confidence to get their lives on track and has continued to help disadvantaged and unemployed young people throughout the pandemic. Three in four young people helped by The Prince's Trust move into work, training or education. The charity has helped more than one million young people since 1976.
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Charles presented Cordell Jeffers with his award
Cordell Jeffers, 28, winner of the Watches of Switzerland Group Young Change Maker award, is a motivational speaker, who struggled with his education growing up and was kicked out of school before gaining his qualifications. He now uses his experiences to reach out to connect with other young people who are experiencing similar challenges.
Cordell tells HELLO!: "It's just been incredible, I'm so honoured and grateful to be here, to even be put in the running for the award, let alone win it."
He revealed that one of his biggest highlights was receiving a handwritten letter from Richard Branson about his achievements, and when asked what advice he would give to other young people, Cordell added: "Just go with an open mind, you really can change your life with the Prince's Trust, you can turn it around, you just got to go in there first.
"It's an incredible opportunity but it's a vehicle and you have to use the vehicle yourself. The Prince's Trust has a platform, but you have to have that self-belief in order to take the opportunities that they give you."
James Bond actor Colin Salmon was impressed by Cordell, who opened the awards ceremony by telling his story: "As a young person who has gone on to help so many young people across the world, Cordell is not only an inspiration to them, but to us all. An entrepreneur, mentor and young leader in his own right leaving his footprint not only in his local community but beyond – this award was so well deserved, and it was amazing to hear from him today!"
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