Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I think now perhaps you realise why I am somewhat superfluous to this organisation, because in fact it is the people that we support who are the ones who make the whole difference to what my Prince’s Trust is all about, you’ve heard this evening from Heritier Mandungu about the experiences he’s had and the difference The Trust has made to him and to his life, and now to his future. And so you can imagine perhaps what it means to me to hear, from the young people themselves, the difference that we’ve made with all your support, Ladies and Gentlemen, because that’s really what it’s all about. And for me, it’s a matter of enormous pride to hear the difference, to hear the fact that their lives have been turned around by The Trust and by all the wonderful people we have in The Trust, who dedicate so much of their lives to taking care of these young people, to working with them. As you can imagine, helping them to overcome the enormous difficulties and challenges they have had in their lives, and to give them that sense of self-confidence and self-esteem, which of course is really why I started the main Trust all those years ago, 43 years ago! And you can see what it has done to me after all these years! But I can never get over where all those years have gone.
But we have an army of young people out there in whom we’ve invested, who already are helping to repay that investment in spades. As you can imagine again, it is wonderful to discover, all the time wherever I go, it’s not just here in this country but other countries, all those people who say you started us off in business, or whatever it was or transformed my life or I was in prison and The Trust gave me an opportunity to succeed. Having been in prison, many of them have started their own businesses. We have a remarkable number of young people, now nearly all of them, to say the least, who have made a serious amount of money in their businesses, which we have started them off in. The great thing is when they come back round again and help to support other people from The Trust.
Now, as you’ve heard, we are able to invest in more young people in other parts of the world and its always what I was rather hoping we might be able to do because, as you all know far better than I, there are huge challenges and issues facing young people in many parts of the world. Youth unemployment is immense in those countries where such a large proportion of the population is under 25 or under 30 and what are they going to do? How are we going to avoid them getting into all the worst kinds of hands and to get involved with gangs or end up as terrorists or whatever. There is a huge task to be done and I’ve always felt The Trust is one of those organisations that can help a little bit in this area. I would love to help many more but at least we can help some, with your help. I’m thrilled to have been able to start The Prince’s Trust International in a wide range of different countries now, and also that we have The Prince’s Trust Australia, Canada and New Zealand now. We have The Prince’s Trust International working in Jordan, hopefully in West Africa. There are some of you here this evening Ladies and Gentlemen who haven’t been able to escape our clutches, after we, my wife and I, were in West Africa in November last year, because as you know, better than I, there are huge challenges in Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere that I’m sure we can help tackle with your assistance. I’m also thrilled that we also have an operation in Greece. We were there just last year for an official visit and we have been able to launch The Trust in Greece. I had a large reception at the beginning of this year for Greek Americans, who have already provided enormous assistance to us to do even more with in Greece. So, as you can imagine, the opportunities are endless.
Above all, I wanted to pay particular tribute to His Highness The Aga Khan for his unbelievable support and encouragement, as far as my Trust is concerned. His Highness has been a wonderful friend to me over so many years and to this country and we owe him such an enormous debt of gratitude. Not only for what he has done through his foundation all over the world, in a remarkable way. I have the greatest admiration for the Aga Khan Foundation andfor His Highness’s remarkable staff who provide so much support to so many people and I see the result. So the fact that His Highness wants to support my Trust, is something truly remarkable and the fact that we can work together, his Foundation and my Trust, is something that gives me the most enormous pride and encouragement, above all encouragement. So I wanted to thank Your Highness, for more than I can possibly say, for being such a very special person and for marking your 80th Birthday and my 70th Birthday in this remarkable way. I can’t tell you what a difference it will make and I look forward so much to working so much with you and your Foundation all over the world in so many different ways.
And Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all very much. Thank you sounds so inadequate really for the way the way that you help and support all of our activities. So I just want you to know what an immense difference you make to what we can do with my Trust all over the world. We couldn’t do it without you so bless you, thank you.