Thursday 18 May 2017: St James’s Palace, London

News Release: 18 May 2017

On 18 May 2017: Twenty outstanding young people, from across the world, will be presented with the Inaugural Legacy Award by The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at St James’s Palace in London on 18 May. These exceptional young people embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service.

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action.

All the Legacy Award winners – who come from the UK, USA, Canada, India, Belize and UAE – have had a monumental impact on society. Many of them only know Princess Diana as a historical figure but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.

Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award says: 

This is a landmark event for The Diana Award as we join The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry in celebrating the legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales in this 20th anniversary year. This ceremony is about two things; celebrating young people for their selfless contribution to society, their courage and bravery, sometimes in the face of adversity and demonstrating to young people that we, as a collective, value them. At The Diana Award we understand that valuing young people also means investing in them so we are delighted that these Legacy Award recipients will have access to our unique development programme that ensures they continue to be positive trailblazers for their generation.

Legacy Award recipients will have access to a Diana Award programme which will provide them with the opportunity to enhance their skills in four key areas; leadership, community development, social entrepreneurship and technology for good.

The winners were selected from a poll of nominations by an independent judging panel chaired by Dame Julia Cleverdon, Founder of Step Up To Serve. The panel included; Julia Samuel, Patron of Child Bereavement UK and friend of Princess Diana and campaigner Baroness Lawrence OBE.

Julia Samuel, Patron of Child Bereavement UK and friend of Princess Diana says:

“I was humbled by reading the extraordinary achievements of every young person who was nominated for this award. The twenty Legacy Award winners are truly inspirational- often coming from extremely difficult circumstances. It left me feeling profoundly hopeful for our future knowing these young people will be part of that future and our future leaders.”

Lord Spencer will also be honouring his sister’s legacy by hosting a special exhibition, ‘Walking in Her Shoes’ for The Diana Award at Althorp House this summer. The exhibition, which opens on 21 May 2017, will showcase the work of 20 Legacy Award winners.

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For interviews or further information please contact Emma Pelling on: 07958 558172, emma@pellingpr.co.uk www.diana-award.org.uk

Social media: @DianaAward / facebook.com/TheDianaAward / instagram: DianaAward / #DianasLegacy

The ceremony event is under royal rota and footage can be accessed from the pool.

A fixed point has been set up at the following location for post event interviews with award winners and Diana Award CEO Tessy Ojo. Media will need to hold a royal parks press permit. To obtain a press permit please contact the press team on press@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk

Location: Canada Gate, St James’s Park.

Time: 5.30-6.30pm


Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award.
Tessy is a passionate and practical campaigner who has gained an international reputation for fostering positive change in the lives of young people and the impact it has on communities around them. At the heart of her work is the belief that with the right support and investment, young people are the best instigators for achieving real, sustainable change in their lives, their communities and the lives of their peers.
Becky Andrew, Head of Operations, The Diana Award.
Becky heads up the Award’s Team and leads the development and delivery of The Diana Award Programme at every level. She is also responsible for all internal operations, human resources and internal and external stakeholder events.
About The Diana Award

The Diana Award is the longest running award for young people that is given to individuals and groups through a retrospective nomination process only. We believe this is special: young people do not work towards our award, rather they demonstrate their suitability through their actions, without expectation of reward. We believe this makes The Diana Award unique and the reason why young people form a deep connection to the award.

The Diana Award invests in developing young people through four key programmes:

  1. Our flagship Award – the Diana Award, continues to shine a spotlight on outstanding young people through a retrospective nomination process.
  2. Our peer-led Anti-Bullying Campaign, enables young people to change the attitudes, behaviours and culture of bullying both offline and online through a multifaceted approach.
  3. Our structured Mentoring Programme builds resilience and character for the most vulnerable young people in our society, helping them gain key competencies needed to navigate life successfully.
  4. Our Inspire Series Programme, supports and enables young people to take positive action in their communities, helping them build leadership skills.

Over the next five years, we want to go further. Our aspiration is that the 11,000 hours that young people spend in full time education, are safe and bully-free hours, that young people have the tools, skills and competencies to effectively cope with, bounce back from and challenge bullying behaviour in their schools. Our hope is that vulnerable young people in our society have the opportunity to succeed in life through an effective and structured mentoring experience that ensures social mobility. Finally, through a varied curriculum of experiences and opportunities, young people acquire the skills needed to succeed in life and in work.

During this 20th Anniversary year The Diana Award is actively seeking supporters to help the charity continue this youth legacy, in memory of Princess Diana, and expand their work that fosters change through positive action with young people.

The Diana Award has also launched a commemorative website celebrating Princess Diana’s legacy – www.dianaslegacy.co.uk- members of the public will be invited to add their thoughts and memories to the website.


Name: Joshua Adams
Age: 18
Area: Towcester, Northants
Region: East Midlands

Since the age of 13, Joshua has acted as a full-time carer for his mother who has a complex mental health disorder, as well as his two younger siblings. He is patient, supportive, and determined to provide happiness and stability to his family. He even learned to drive early in order to take his family members to medical appointments, events, clubs, school, and to do the shopping. Joshua balances that difficult schedule at home with achieving his goals at school, where he is an exceptional and enthusiastic student, currently studying for three A-Levels. His teachers unanimously admire him for his positivity, maturity and kindness. On top of his full-time caring responsibilities and studies, Joshua also works part-time to support the family, as well as acting as a mentor to other young carers going through similar situations. Joshua selflessly puts his family’s needs ahead of his own and those who know him are humbled by his perseverance and constantly positive approach to life.

Name: Asha Parkinson
Age: 17
Area: Bushey, Hertfordshire
Region: Eastern

Asha is a talented musician and change-maker committed to using the positive power of music and words to break down cultural and religious barriers across the world. After being deeply moved by the crisis in Syria, Asha single-handedly conceived Voices Beyond Divisions, a unique music project aimed at bringing together children from different cultural backgrounds, to sing for peace and in the process promote the values of tolerance and respect at the heart of all religious teachings. Asha has raised over £10,000 by crowdfunding for a sold-out concert held at St James’s Church in London this past January. The concert saw a choir made up of children from local schools performing Asha’s own piece, What War, which features literal quotes from the Koran, the Talmud and the Bible. Participants Asha has engaged through the concert and project have not only developed a greater understanding of different cultures, but have also formed friendships for life – this is testament to Asha’s passion, commitment, creativity and belief in the young people she works with.

Name: Nicholas Nikiforou
Age: 11
Area: Weston Super Mare
Region: South West

Nicholas was born with a large congenital melanocytic nevus. This is classified under the Disability Act and medical terminology as ‘disfigurement’ which Nicholas strongly disagrees with, advocating for facial equality. He is passionate about promoting that ‘it is what is on the inside that counts’. In addition to campaigning for facial equality, Nicholas has raised funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital where he has received treatment since infancy. After watching the film It’s A Wonderful Life Nicholas immediately connected with its message; that people can have impact on others through the smallest of gestures. This, alongside his passion for art and helping others influenced his card initiative. Nicholas prints hundreds of his own art pieces onto postcards which he physically hands out to the public to advocate for kindness and equality. Nicholas considers Princess Diana his role model and lives by her quote ‘do what your heart tells you’. His heart has encouraged him to spread the message, ‘even if you look different you should be proud of who you are’.

Name: Femi Owolade-Coombes
Age: 11
Area: Lewisham, London
Region: London

When Femi was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of seven, he wondered how it would shape his life, not realising the incredible influence he would have on other young people who were also neuro-divergent. A talented coder and described as one of ‘tomorrow’s engineers,’ Femi set up the South London Raspberry Jam to share his passion for computing with friends from his Tourette’s Action support group and other young people with autism and Tourette syndrome. Femi has provided free workshops to hundreds of young people and helped deliver a number of successful teacher/parent workshops, which help them to gain insight into their children’s engagement with technology. His blog, www.hackerfemo.com documenting his journey, has reached over 50 countries and he also delivers talks to organisations across the country, sharing his vision of increasing access and widening diversity in the digital making and coding community. Femi’s activities give people the skills and knowledge to understand and shape an increasingly digital world, as well as helping to equip them for the jobs of the future, a vital opportunity for young people to have access to.

Name: Mathew White-Iley
Age: 15
Area: Hartlepool
Region: North East

Mathew is a kind, compassionate and inspirational young anti-bullying ambassador and mentor, who has been the driving force behind his anti-bullying ambassador team at his school. In his role as Chair, Mathew has planned and helped deliver assemblies on recognising and tackling bullying. He has spent time raising awareness on cyber, sexual, homophobic, physical, and psychological bullying. Mathew has also contributed to his school’s anti-bullying policy and the design of the anti-bullying webpage on their website, has organised tutor groups, campaigned and fundraised for his cause. It is not unusual for Mathew to be asked to help an extremely vulnerable young person that needs help with confidence, bullying or other problems. He is open and approachable about his experience being bullied and how he struggled with his own confidence and self belief. He regularly checks in on those he is mentoring and never leaves without ensuring the individual is feeling better. Teachers and staff at his school describe Mathew as always going one step beyond what is expected of him, ensuring that everyone else’s needs come before him.

Name: Brooke Taylor
Age: 15
Area: Lostock, Bolton
Region: North West

Brooke is a courageous fundraiser, raising thousands of pounds for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity (RMCHC), having been treated there since birth for a spinal condition. Never letting anything stand in the way of her fundraising mission, Brooke has organised and taken part in runs and walks across the North West region. When told she couldn’t take part in physical activity for a year following spinal surgery, Brooke created the Forbidden Mile; encouraging family, friends and her community to take on a one mile challenge, for those who can’t. Brooke is also Vice Chair of the Youth Forum at the hospital, contributing to the future care of children by sharing ideas and providing a voice for her fellow patients. Determined to persue her passion for sports Brooke has dreams of becoming a Paralympic athlete, to show future generations that illness doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams. Her latest project, ‘Brooke’s Barmy Army’, will see a group of 60 musicians march Manchester 10k in May to raise £12,000 to fund reclining chairs for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at RMCH.

Name: Jonathan Bryan
Age: 11
Area: Stanton St Quintin, Wiltshire
Region: South West

A tireless campaigner and advocate for people with disabilities, Jonathan is nothing short of inspirational. Unable to speak, Jonathan communicates via a spelling board attached to a piece of perspex, with his communication partner reading his gaze to each letter. Through this groundbreaking system he is able to communicate to construct words, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pieces of writing, including an incredibly insightful and thought-provoking article for The Guardian in January this year. Jonathan believes passionately that everyone should have the opportunity to learn literacy, regardless of their condition and has worked tirelessly to change the way students with complex disabilities are educated. His blog www.eyecantalk.net inspires thousands of people every day. His petition #TeachUsToo, which urges the government to reform the special needs curriculum so that all disabled children have the opportunity to access literacy, has over 186,000 signatures. Jonathan does all this whilst studying for his Year Six SATs and has earned a place at a mainstream secondary school, starting in September 2017. In the words of Jonathan himself, “never judge a book by its cover; never look at a child like me and assume we are not worth teaching”.

Name: Garreth Browne
Age: 16
Area: Shantallow, Derry
Region: Northern Ireland

After losing his father and mother in the same year, Garreth has been a pillar of support to his older sister and two younger brothers, to ensure their family stay together despite the hardship they have had to face. In addition to supporting his siblings, Garreth selflessly helps other children in Kinship Care by talking about his family’s experience in a positive way. He has shown maturity and bravery by facing his own emotions and troubles to help younger children work through theirs. He goes above and beyond helping in his local community by volunteering every night at his local youth club and boxing club. Staff at Kinship Care have been awestruck watching Garreth help and support children with disabilities and less confident members of the group, who, without his encouragement and kind words might have given up at an extremely difficult time in their lives. Garreth is described as ‘giving hope to everyone he meets,’ a true testament to a remarkable young man who gets up every day with the intention of making his family proud and others happy despite his own heartbreak.

Name: Dervla Dolan
Age: 18
Area: Omagh, Co Tyrone
Region: Northern Ireland

Dervla has been the driving force behind setting up The Enda Dolan Foundation after her brother Enda, was tragically killed in a road accident in Belfast. Enda was a keen athlete, guitarist and budding architect. The foundation was established to keep his memory alive and inspire others through his love for life. Inspired by her brother, Dervla passionately believes in improving both physical and mental health for overall well-being and for this reason, she established numerous ‘Couch to 5K’ programmes to inspire people of all abilities to have fun whilst getting fit. The Dolan family also created Run for Enda to get the wider community involved. Dervla herself has competed in various races and has volunteered at all of these programmes. She has witnessed first-hand the positive effect of sport on physical and mental health which drives her to continue. As Deputy Head Girl she is an exceptional role model to other young people both in her school and local community. The personal challenges that Dervla has faced have been enormous but she has persevered to shine a light of hope, strength and love in her brother’s memory and honour.

Name: Jonjo Heuerman
Age: 15
Area: Wilmington, Kent
Region: South East

Jonjo is a remarkable, inspiring 15 year old who dedicates much of his time to fundraise for The Bobby Moore Fund in memory of his Nan who passed away from bowel cancer and his football hero, Bobby Moore. Since the age of nine, Jonjo has completed six annual challenges, and delivered hundreds of events. His fundraising total now exceeds £300,000 and the charity he works with estimates he has generated over £1m in public awareness; saving more lives than he will ever know. Jonjo’s ability to mobilise other young people to join his fundraising mission is credit to his passion and dedication to his message ‘that everyone can be an everyday hero.’ Despite raising hundreds of thousands of pounds Jonjo has not set a fundraising target, instead his target ‘is a cure’, something he will aspire to and inspire in others for years to come. Jonjo is also believed to be the youngest person on the New Year Honours list, receiving his medal at just 13 years old, proof of his incredible drive.

Name: Elan Môn Gilford
Age: 17
Area: Llanfairpwll, Anglesey
Region: Wales

Elan is an exceptional sportswoman and coach who has helped thousands of young people across Wales build confidence and skills through sport. Dedicating over 1500 hours to coaching multi-sport and netball sessions, she is credited with boosting children’s participation in sport across North Wales and never lets any child leave one of her sessions feeling that they aren’t good enough, finding something positive for them to focus on with remarkable results. Elan is deaf, wears two hearing aids and relies upon lip-reading. Whilst this might be seen as a potential barrier Elan has never let it stand in the way of both her own sporting achievements and inspiring others, saying “if I can gain such skills, anyone can with hard work”. In addition to her volunteering Elan is also committed to promoting sport across Wales, including the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and attends conferences across the country to spread the word. In the words of her nominator, “Elan is a true volunteer who does everything for everyone without asking for anything back – a truly inspirational and selfless young lady who deserves to be recognised”.

Name: Maya Ghazal
Age: 17
Area: Perry Barr, Birmingham
Region: West Midlands

Maya is both a role model and a compelling spokesperson for young refugees and migrants across the UK. Travelling from Damascus in Syria, Maya arrived in the UK in September 2015 where she was reunited with her father, who was forced to leave their family home and embark on a dangerous journey to find safety 15 months earlier. Since arriving Maya has faced many hurdles, including not speaking any English. Through her determination and passion for making a difference she has not only learned English, but is also excelling in her education – recently gaining a place to study Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies at Brunel University. In addition to this she has worked to ensure that young refugees’ voices are heard, speaking at events across the country, to educate audiences on the hidden dangers faced by young refugees and migrants. As the world saw the devastating image of toddler Aylan Kurdi’s body on a Turkish beach in September 2015 Maya organised a candle-lit vigil in his name, bringing together hundreds of people to show solidarity with refugees like her affected by this global crisis.

Name: Jemima Browning
Age: 16
Area: Stutton, North Yorkshire
Region: Yorkshire and The Humber

Jemima has dedicated countless hours of her time to improving the lives of young people with disabilities through her highly successful Stingrays Swimming Club. Inspired by her brother who has Down’s syndrome, Jemima is passionate about ensuring all young people with a disability are given access to opportunities to keep fit in a fun and stimulating environment. In addition to the swimming club, Jemima also leads Project Unify in her school where she has been involved in securing funding to implement sporting activity. She has also been appointed to the European Youth Activation Committee to represent the Special Olympics in Great Britain and travelled to Frankfurt to take part in her first Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Inclusive Youth Activation Committee. Jemima is always thinking ahead about how she can continue to raise awareness, and has aspirations for a career with a special needs/ medical focus so she can continue to fulfil her passion for helping disabled young people.

Name: Jaylen Arnold
Age: 16
Area: Lakeland, Florida
Region: USA

Aged nine, Jaylen decided to make a bold stand after being bullied for having Tourette syndrome and autism. Armed with his motto ‘Bullying No Way!’, he set out to change the world one person at a time by spreading acceptance of who we are, advocating that the ‘more we understand each other, the more we will love the differences we have and the similarities we share’. Over the past 10 years Jaylen has spoken to over 185,000 students across 20 states, sharing his experiences of bullying and encouraging his peers to practice tolerance, encourage self-worth and speak out. Most recently, Jaylen has devised the ‘Bully Free Schools Ambassadors Club’ curriculum, a step-by-step initiative schools can run to raise awareness and foster positive action, which has been implemented in schools across the world. Jaylen has been credited with reaching the most troubled students, with many confiding in him about their own personal struggles, acknowledging them, and for the first time – realizing they have the power to enact change within themselves.

Name: Faith Dickinson
Age: 11
Area: Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canada

At just nine years old, Faith launched the charity Cuddles for Cancer after her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her treatment, Faith’s aunt told her how she got very cold, so Faith made her a fleece blanket to provide comfort, warmth and love. To date Faith has made over 3000 blankets, which have been sent across Canada, the United States, UK, Germany, Brazil, Australia, France and Africa. She has raised over $30,000 to ensure that the blankets remain free to those who need them the most. She believes that everyone ‘deserves a cuddle’ and personalises each blanket based on the recipient’s hobbies or favourite colour. Most recently, her blankets have served soldiers returning home injured or suffering from PTSD. Faith is also an active member of her community as a volunteer and her ‘cuddle club’ talks have reached thousands of young people in schools across Ontario, encouraging students to fight social injustice in their local and global communities.

Name: Amaan Iqbal Ibrahim
Age: 15
Area: Sharjah
Region: United Arab Emirates

Amaan has been a powerful force in supporting over 1000 labourers in the United Arab Emirates, where tens of thousands of workers hailing from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh travel to the area to work and support their families back home. Amaan raised a task force of students to regularly visit the labourers, serving food during their religious festivals whether they are Muslim, Hindu or Christian. These times are when workers can feel particularly isolated and lonely, as they are away from their families and otherwise unable to celebrate their festivals and ceremonies. The programme has made an incredible difference to the workers’ well-being and he is highly respected across the labour camps. A passionate leader, Amaan has mobilised hundreds more students and organisations to join his cause and support his mission. Amaan is also a brand ambassador for Protect Your Mom, the Asia Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, and has initiated a food and blanket drive for the Nepal Earthquake relief efforts. Amaan is known in his community as an advocate for kindness, empathy and service.

Name: Elsia Pop
Age: 17
Area: Belmopan
Region: Belize

Elsia has made it her mission to ensure the cultural traditions of the Mayan people, comprising 11.3% of the population of Belize are not forgotten. After learning handicraft from elders in her village in Belize, Elsia now teaches her peers about the art, both in school and villages across the region. As well as preserving her culture, Elsia is also breaking the cycle of poverty in her community, by encouraging young people to sell the products they make; contributing to their education and improving their life chances. Whilst Elsia believes wholeheartedly in the power of education, she also realises the stark reality her community is facing with many of her peers dropping out of school. She hopes that with these skills young people will have a means of empowering themselves and providing for their families. With 56% of Belizeans under the age of 25 Elsia’s efforts and tenacity are crucial in ensuring the Mayans’ rich culture is not lost and that young people continue the legacy of their elders. She is an inspiration to all who know her, and a strong advocate for her heritage and culture.

Name: Nikhiya Shamsher
Age: 14
Area: Bangalore
Region: India

Nikhiya has played a crucial role in changing the lives of nearly 6000 underprivileged children, through her initiatives that ensure children across India have the facilities, funds and resources needed to build a better future through education. Through her initiative Bags, Books and Blessings 4200 students have received school supplies including books, bags, uniforms and shoes. Nikhiya has mobilised hundreds of local businesses to support the cause. Her Yearn to Learn project has helped provide laboratories to schools, giving them an equal opportunity to excel in science and maths, with teachers reporting student grades shooting up by 30%. A budding entrepreneur, Nikhiya did not let a lack of funding get in her way, starting www.knicnacs.com to sell quirky and unique gifts which help fund the projects. Nikhiya has also taken it upon herself to sponsor 25 visually impaired children, is a national archer; and inspired by the film, Patch Adams is now part of the group ‘Compassionate Clowns’. In her own words, Nikhiya believes “the future is not predicted, it’s made”, something she is certainly putting into practice with extraordinary impact.

Name: Mercy Ngulube
Age: 18
Area: Cardiff
Region: Wales

Mercy is a courageous social activist who has used her own personal painful experience of stigma and discrimination to drive her commitment and pursuit of equality for young people living with HIV. Mercy is the current Chair of the Children’s HIV Association’s Youth Committee and uses this role to drive campaigns on behalf of young people living with HIV. She is praised for representing CHIVA and the wider community of young people living with HIV with professionalism, realism, humour, passion and intelligence. Mercy also uses the CHIVA Twitter account and her own activist account to correct online misinformation about HIV and challenge negativity and ignorance. She took this campaign to a new level during the media storm around the ‘outing’ of US Actor Charlie Sheen’s HIV status in November 2015. Mercy spent hours trawling through all the tweets denouncing Charlie Sheen as ‘dirty’, countering the prejudice and hate with correct information. In July 2016, Mercy spoke to HRH Prince Harry at the International HIV Conference in Durban South Africa about how HIV is portrayed in society and the media, and how together they could combat the stigma.

Name: Suely
Age: 18
Region: Scotland

Despite having endured adversity and personal tragedy throughout her life, Suely is determined to help others. Suely arrived in Scotland from Angola when she was 14 and enthusiastically threw herself into social justice initiatives; all the while learning English, focusing on her studies and working four nights a week in a restaurant to support herself. She has shown particular commitment to volunteering and fundraising for Mary’s Meals as she understands the reality of hunger and starvation in the developing world. Suely recognises the value of making education accessible and subsequently dedicates many of her volunteering hours to supporting Malawi schools with a group of her peers. As the head of the volunteer group they have raised over £10,000. Suely demonstrates incredible resilience in the face of continued challenges yet always finds time to help others whether it’s befriending younger students going through hard situations or supporting pupils at the school with autism. Suely firmly believes in improving the lives of others and has abhorrence for injustice. It is clear to anyone who has met Suely that her convictions are deeply held and they have helped her accomplish great things despite her circumstances. She is a truly inspirational role model to young people everywhere.

Do you know an inspiring young person you want to nominate for a Diana Award?

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