Ladies and Gentlemen, once again I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Anthony and Declan for coming all the way here. It hasn’t been the same without them, it really hasn’t without all of their jokes. I always hope that I’ll pick up something really useful while I’m here, which of course I always do! I have this terrible feeling every year, (how many years have we been doing it, 15 or more!), that half of you are the same and have heard everything I’ve already said one hundred times but if I may say so, there are rather more of you here than I thought there would have been. I imagined that there would be a quarter of the number here and that most of you would be sitting at the back of the theatre, like everyone does at school. But, instead I’m so glad to see that there are quite a lot of you here!
Above all else, I wanted to offer my heartfelt congratulations on this occasion to all of those astonishing young people who have been recognized today at these “Prince’s Trust and T.K. Maxx and Homesense Awards”. They have all, as you have seen, shown tremendous courage and determination to make positive changes in their lives and are a real inspiration to us all. Actually, it’s been one of the best awards ceremonies I’ve been to for a long time here because there have been such good laughs the whole way through! One of the best things I’ve discovered here today is that I’m around about the same age as Ronnie Wood, reminding me of the old rocker’s generation.
It’s probably worth remembering that many of the winners today have faced challenges getting into stable employment. Young people are three times as likely as any other age group to face unemployment and one in five young people finish their education without the basic qualifications, they need to find a job, or start an apprenticeship or go to college.
For many young people, transitioning from education into work can be a really anxious time. The longer this spell of uncertainty and unemployment lasts, the more intense anxiety this can cause young people. That is why it is my Trust’s mission, at the end of the day, to help young people into sustainable employment; so they can build positive futures for themselves and of course for their communities.
So to enable all of this to happen, it doesn’t just happen by chance, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to endless different people like TK Maxx and Homesense for sponsoring this event for the fourth year. Incidentally, I visited one of their stores in Tooting, the other day and discovered you can get a really good bargain! I must say, huge gratitude goes to all of the other sponsors who have made the day possible. Particularly of course, to Ant and Dec on their return to host the awards this year. They recently won their nineteenth National Television Award for Best Presenter, so perhaps it is a little bit refreshing for them to be handing out awards rather than receiving them for a change. And, I am hugely grateful to Craig David, who, this is the second time in two days, I have seen. It’s like how you can never find a London bus when you want one! I saw him at Westminster Abbey earlier in the week and he turned up here again today. To perform for us, was very special and if I may say so, so was his brilliant guitarist who I thought was fantastic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you’ve seen, I must thank more than I can possibly say, the Prince’s Trust staff and their wonderful volunteers, I have just given that award to the best Welsh person you could imagine, for everything they do to make it all possible, and all they do to turn peoples’ lives around and go above and beyond everything, everyday to help boost the work of my Trust. We’ve got over 7,000 of them all around the country and it makes a huge difference. Of course, the others I’m really grateful to, are the celebrity ambassadors who have been incredibly generous with their time today and all throughout the year, helping at one event after the other. Especially, those ambassadors, who host the 10 regional awards throughout the country. Now I just wanted to mention, briefly, that the reach of my Trust’s work also extends beyond supporting those in the United Kingdom. As well as continuing work in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Barbados, Pakistan, India, Malta, Grease and Jordan, this past year has seen my Trust celebrate the launch of its work into sub-Saharan Africa, to Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Serbia. The global work of the Prince’s trust has reached 15,000 young people and communities around the world thus far and has an ambition, I have to say, to reach many thousands more in years to come, in order to tackle the huge global issue of youth unemployment and underemployment.
Due to circumstances, as you know, beyond our control, we are not joined by as many of those who make such an immense difference to my Trust internationally, as we had originally planned. I just wanted to thank them for all of their continued support and dedication to my Trust in those countries. Despite their enforced absence, I am delighted to also announce that this year we will celebrate the launch of my Trust in the United States. Prince’s Trust America will formally launch with a global Gala in New York in April 2020 or at least we hope it will. You can never be certain nowadays. Meanwhile, back at home, I am enormously proud of all those who have achieved so much and have won the awards today. It takes a lot, I can well imagine, to do what they have done. They have come through with flying colours and I shall watch their progress with immense interest for as long as I possibly can because they are the future. We have done a little bit of investment I hope, in their lives and their futures. I hope they have nothing but the greatest success because they will act as a real inspiration for other young people who might need support in order to turn their lives around and move forward.
Ladies and Gentlemen thank you, thank you for all of the support you give and for the difference you can make.