The Prince of Wales was moved to tears when a young man paid tribute to his college tutor for her support as he turned his life around with help from the Prince’s Trust.
Aidan Sayers’ transformation from an unemployed teenager excluded from school to someone who has a home, car and a job was recognised with an award from the trust presented by Charles.
The award winner became emotional as he thanked Claire McGarvey for guiding him through a trust course, telling her” “I’ve got as much love for you as my grandma.”
Charles appeared tearful as the 20-year-old spoke during the awards ceremony staged at St James’s Palace and he later praised the determination of the young people recognised.
During a speech, he said: “It really is marvellous to be together again in person after this delay of 18 months or so, this dreadful pandemic, then to share in the celebrations of all these wonderful young people.
“I find their stories have alternatively moved me, made me laugh and cry.
“So, I’ve come to know how proud I am of all of them, and what they represent in terms of the incredible amount of effort and determination they put in to all of this and to win their awards.”
The awards were presented virtually earlier in the year and the event gave Charles the opportunity to recognise the winners in person.
Among the guests were ambassadors and supporters of the Prince’s Trust and its international body including actors Richard E Grant and Colin Salmon, Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, comic Hugh Dennis, presenter Kate Garraway and host Fearne Cotton.
Mr Sayers, from Darlington, described school as “not for me” and later revealed his hopes of joining the Army were dashed because of an allergy, but he enrolled on a Prince’s Trust Achieve course which gave him purpose and confidence.
While on stage, Mr Sayers, who won the Educational Achiever Award, said: “Without people like Claire around us I don’t know where I’d be, I wouldn’t have a house, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go, I wouldn’t have job, I wouldn’t have anything.
“Without the Prince’s Trust I wouldn’t be standing here obviously, I would probably be on the streets. Because of what the Prince’s Trust has done, what all you lovely people have done. I’m stood here today and I can’t say thank you enough.”
Among the winners was Cordell Jeffers, awarded the Young Change Maker Award, after supporting thousands of black and ethnic minority students through resilience training, motivational talks and entrepreneur workshops.
Mr Jeffers was sent to the Caribbean to finish his education after being excluded from school but began on his current path after completing the trust’s enterprise programme.
Actor Colin Salmon, who appeared in three James Bond movies, joked with Charles before the event began about how he did not need fight training, he just “worked out how to hold a pen”.
The celebrity was impressed by Mr Jeffers, who opened the awards ceremony by telling his story, saying: “What Cordell did up there was almost like a warm-up and almost like a performance. And he’s entered that poetic phase in his life when he understands the depth of what he’s doing – and that’s the game.”