The Prince of Wales and a host of celebrities this week paid tribute to young people who have overcome adversity to achieve success at the Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.
His Royal Highness joined a glittering array of stars from the world of television, film, theatre and music to celebrate young people who have turned their lives around with the help of his charity, The Prince's Trust.
Guests at the Oscars-style ceremony at London’s Leicester Square Odeon, hosted by Ant and Dec, included Prince’s Trust ambassadors DJ Mark Ronson, The Wire star Idris Elba, Homeland actor Damian Lewis and actress Dame Helen Mirren.
His Royal Highness presented seven awards at the event before giving a speech in which he commended Ant and Dec on their youthful looks, as well as joking about the pair’s pop single Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.
“They seem to have discovered the secret of eternal youth. I suspect it must be all that rumbling they do. Anyway, I hope they keep rumbling on,” he quipped.
The Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards recognise young people who have overcome challenges such as homelessness, drug addiction, unemployment and mental health issues.
The event was the national final following a series of regional award ceremonies across the country at the end of last year.
The Prince continued the jokes in his speech with a reference to Dame Helen’s current theatre role as The Queen in The Audience on the West End stage.
“I have a feeling that Dame Helen Mirren should really be putting on a familiar wig in some West End theatre now,” he said.
Before the ceremony, Dame Helen told The Prince she was “back in the saddle”, alluding to her return to playing the prince’s mother, adding: “Nice to see you again.”
More jokes were served up by presenting duo Ant and Dec who reminded the audience of The Prince’s recent appearance on Countryfile, suggesting they felt lucky to still have the job.
“We thought he might want to do this himself,” said Dec.
Just before the ceremony got under way, Dec upheld the light-hearted mood by saying: “Without further ado, let’s get ready to rumble.”
This proved to be a reference from popular culture that did not go over The Prince’s head – evident in the aforementioned joke from his speech.
Speaking about how he feels about his charity and its annual awards ceremony, The Prince said: “Each time it makes me feel prouder and prouder.”
He said he feels “indebted” to all the volunteers who keep the cogs of the charity turning, and recalled his vision for the charity which was to “invest in the future, in an army of young people”.
Dame Helen was moved to tears by one award winner, and had to compose herself as she posed for photographs with the winner and The Prince on stage.
Naomi Johnston, 27, from Edinburgh received the Mappin and Webb Young Ambassador of the Year award from the emotional actress who wiped tears away from her cheeks.
Ms Johnston became homeless and suffered a series of serious injuries in homeless units where she stayed. She completed The Prince’s Trust Team programme and her life began to take routine and purpose.
She was recently appointed a job as ambassador for the charity and is said to be excelling in her new role.
Speaking about the event, Dame Helen said: "All the young people here today are truly inspirational. Their remarkable stories have blown me away.
“I would like to congratulate each and every young person for showing that with resilience and hard work you really can reach your potential and be an inspiration to others.”
Billed as the big award of the ceremony, the acting world’s power couple Damian Lewis and his wife Helen McCrory presented Afsana Benozir, 20, from Tower Hamlets, London, with the Samsung Young Achiever of the Year award – after she enjoyed a hug with The Prince which prompted a standing ovation from the audience.
At the age of 10 her behaviour changed dramatically and soon she was self-harming and displaying violent mood swings. Having survived two suicide attempts and giving up on any aspirations she had held, Ms Benozir had months of therapy and revealed she had been abused by a family friend at the age of six.
She is now volunteering for various organisations, including the role of assistant team leader and a young ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, and has plans to study medicine at university this year.
Damian said: "Afsana’s story is truly remarkable. Despite the difficult challenges she has faced, which I am sure would have been too much for many, she has beaten the odds to create a better life for herself.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this Prince’s Trust award. I’m honoured to have met her today and wish her the very best for what I am sure will be a very bright future.”
Helen said the key to the Trust’s success is that it offers an “alternative” to young people.
“Well I think succeeding is the easy bit. It’s how you succeed, and that’s why the Prince’s Trust is fantastic because it’s giving people the tools.
“And it’s giving them an alternative. It’s all very well for people to run around and say ‘sort it out’, but they’re not giving people an alternative.
“And this is what this is managing to do,” she said.
Actor Idris Elba, who received about £1500 from The Prince’s Trust when he was 15 or 16, said “it’s great to ask for help”.
Idris said he is “always thankful” to the Trust, and said lots of young people lack confidence and focus which the charity can help them improve on.
The star, from the inner city in London, said getting to where he is today has been “a long dream, a long, hard dream” but his focus and desire, along with help from The Prince’s Trust brought him his current success.
Marie Cope, 24, from Aberdeen was awarded the HP Flying Start Award by Elba and rapper Tinie Tempah.
Ms Cope’s life began to go out of control at the age of 13, as she fell into a cycle of drug abuse and violent relationships.
She became involved with The Prince’s Trust Get into Retail programme which provides young people with the training and experience they need to find work in the retail industry.
She got a job with a major retail fashion chain and later became a Young Ambassador for The Trust.
Speaking about the charity, she said: “I don’t know where I’d be without them to be honest.”
Idris said: "Marie is a shining example of someone who has proved that it is possible to succeed against all odds. At a young age, she has already overcome more challenges than most people will face in a lifetime.
“Her ability to pick herself up and carve out a life for herself and her son – with help from The Prince’s Trust – is truly amazing.
“It has been wonderful to meet her today.”
Bethany Evans, 15, from Thornton Cleveleys, received the Novae Education Achiever Award from DJ Mark Ronson and singer Laura Mvula who performed at the interval.
The teenager has been a carer for up to three members of her family and had become disengaged from education and a victim of bullying. The Prince’s Trust improved her approach to education and she has secured a place at college to study level two in health and social care.
Martin Meeuwissen, 26, from Northampton received the American Express Breakthrough Award from actor Sam Claflin and presenter Laura Whitmore.
Having had thoughts of suicide at the age of eight, Mr Meeuwissen turned to drink and drugs, but with the help of The Prince’s Trust Team he now heads up a project at Northamptonshire County Council that helps adults find work experience.
Ten 10 young people from Birmingham were together awarded the Balfour Beatty Community Impact Award by Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton who received her CBE at Buckingham Palace earlier that morning.
With backgrounds of substance misuse and educational underachievement, the group turned a disused outdoor space into a beach play area at the Fox Hollies Children’s Centre in Birmingham.
Peter Higgs, 24, from Ewhurst in Surrey received the RBS Enterprise Award by interior designer Kelly Hoppen and actor Douglas Booth.
Mr Higgs had difficulties at school with adverse psychological issues, and moved between numerous children’s homes which badly affected his education.
He enrolled on The Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise Programme which is for people interested in realising their business potential. He set up PGH Pest Control and Prevention and the business has exceeded all its financial targets.
His decision to wear a t-shirt with his company’s branding emblazoned across it led to presenter Ant commending him on his marketing skills.
The Prince’s Trust supports people aged 13-30 who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.
The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people practical and financial support in a bid to stabilise their lives, encouraging higher self-esteem and skills for work.
Three in four young people supported by the trust move into work, education or training, and it has helped more than 700,000 young people since 1976, supporting 100 more each day, the charity said.