THE BLOG

Queen's Young Leader Award Will Allow Me to Meet Some of the Commonwealth's Most Inspiring, Change-creating Leaders

10/12/2015 14:46 GMT | Updated 09/12/2016 10:12 GMT

At what is generally regarded as the tender young age of 23 it feels both electrifying and surreal to be sat here writing a blog as one of the Queen's Young Leaders for 2016.

Twenty three years ago my mother gave birth to a new member of the next generation. I was born prematurely and had a blood transfusion, all complications which could have had pretty dire consequences. But I fought on.

My mum and dad would call me perhaps really bright. I've always had a really good grasp of the English language and a desire to learn. I have this sort of relentless drive for doing more, being more and pushing more boundaries.

In my earlier years school wasn't the greatest place for me. Aged 11 I was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome after struggling to get on at school and being labelled as 'different.'

I applied to become a Queen's Young Leader because it's awards like this which give young people from all walks of a life an opportunity to develop their leadership, give hope to those in our society who need inspiration to prove that you can do it - no matter what gets in your way. This award is not about me, it's about what I can do to help others through my story.

I started a micro-enterprise in school at the beginning of my teens as part of a school competition. My brothers, a friend and I took part and I put my IT skills to good use, designing education resources for teachers - basically helping them teach us in more exciting ways.

I hit rock bottom during my GCSEs in a school where my label was getting in the way of my work, my parents took the brave decision to move me to another school just three months before exams. It was a great decision and I managed to turn around the academic side of my schooling.

After my formal education finished, and with a solid set of GCSE's to my name, I joined the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. Here I was provided a place to start a business as well as get qualifications at the same time, an opportunity not to miss!

Here my ideas really came alive - I launched my IT consultancy business and have run projects through it ever since. I have gone on to run campaigns in schools and colleges raising awareness of autism and how the diagnosis should not be a barrier but an opportunity to be unique. I also landed an amazing opportunity to work with social enterprise agency UnLtd - supporting other young people to set up social projects.

Our family was dealt a bombshell last year, when it was discovered my father had a gambling addiction which had led him to jail - our family was torn apart and shattered. But I took the bull by the horns and decided to raise awareness of gambling addiction and have gained the support of the NHS, MPs and even David Cameron himself who is backing the campaign. With my dad now out of jail and back home, it is a great feeling to know so much good is coming out of this bad situation.

I call myself a social entrepreneur, a change maker and visionary who will make the world a better place for now and for the future. It's this ethos which drives me forwards.

When I got a phone call a few days ago to tell me I would be honoured as one of the Queen's Young Leaders as recognition for my work in social enterprise and mentorship I was absolutely taken aback. Never in a million years did I think something as amazing as this would happen. It really made me feel like I was on top of the world; having put in all this hard work, the reality of the impact I'm creating really became clear. I can't tell you how humbled and grateful I am that my work is being recognised in this way.

The work I'm doing now, raising awareness and understanding of autism, running campaigns and developing my consultancy's portfolio will be impacted so much by the Award. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet some of the Commonwealth's most inspiring, change-creating leaders who care about the world around them and the way it is working. I can't wait to meet my fellow Award Winners and Her Majesty The Queen!

More information about the 60 Queen's Young Leader Award Winners and the programme can be found here