An inspirational Peterhead youngster has been named runner-up at the Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.
Simon Gemmell, 19, struggled at school and got in trouble with the police but fast forward to today and Simon has turned his life around.
HRH The Prince of Wales was joined by a host of celebrities on Wednesday, March 12 at the awards, which recognised young people who have overcome issues such as abuse, drug addiction, homelessness and depression.
Simon’s incredible achievements mean that he was one of just three people from across the UK and the only one from Scotland to be chosen as a finalist. He was runner-up for the HP Flying Start Award, which recognises those young people who, despite having faced substantial personal obstacles, are in sustainable employment as a result of a Prince’s Trust programme.
Simon said: “It has been an amazing day and I’m really proud to be named runner up for the HP Flying Start Award.
“Before I came to The Prince’s Trust I had no hope for my future but they helped me get my life back on track. Being here today is proof that, whatever challenges you face, you can achieve something fantastic.”
Actors Dominic West and Luke Evans presented the Flying Start award. Simon grew up in a turbulent household and was just 13 when he began to lose his way.
He thought his future would be in prison, but time on a Prince’s Trust programme proved that his prospects were far more positive than he had ever imagined.
Simon struggled at school, fell in with the wrong crowd and got into trouble for fighting both in and out of school. His behaviour was beginning to impact on his relationships with his mother and younger brother. Simon said: “I had no motivation, no education, no job – everything around me pointed to failure. I thought I had no hope.”
Simon’s criminal justice worker referred him to Team, a programme from The Prince’s Trust that aims to improve the employability prospects of unemployed young people.
“Team gave me the opportunity to take part in activities and challenges I would never have got to try. It made me learn to trust people – and that was a major breakthrough for me.”
During the course of the programme, Simon learned how to control his anger, work in a team, and build positive relationships with peers and authority figures. After graduating from Team, Simon volunteered to work on the next programme as an Assistant Team Leader, helping others overcome their own barriers to a better life. He then attended a career fair and secured an apprenticeship at a logistics firm.
Simon added: “The Prince’s Trust showed me my choices. They opened a door to so many different opportunities, I realised my life could be whatever I made it and without their support I’d probably be in jail or not even here anymore but instead I feel great and have a lot going for me.”
Simon has been in full time employment for over a year and has a steady partner, his own house and plans to stay happy, get promoted and have a family.
President of The Prince’s Trust, HRH The Prince of Wales paid tribute to the thousands of Prince’s Trust volunteers and staff who help to change 58,000 young lives each year.