A teenager from Hemel Hempstead has won a national award from the Prince’s Trust for overcoming bullying and working hard to turn her education and school life around.
Ella Williams, 16, was presented with her Educational Achiever award from the Prince of Wales yesterday (May 24) at the Theatre Royal in London’s West End.
The star-studded event is the Trust’s first televised awards ceremony and saw Ella honoured for the hard work and determination to get her education back on track after a troubled start to school life.
Ant and Dec hosted the ceremony which saw the likes of Amal Clooney, Major Tim Peake, Mel C and Bear Grylls present awards to inspirational young people who have changed their lives and the lives of others for the better.
Ella was nominated by Julie Wilcox, Prince’s Trust Co-ordinator and Kane Beere, Ella’s maths teacher at Dacorum Education Specialist Centre (DESC), for her huge personal and academic achievements which saw her attendance go from just 30% to 90% by the time she finished school.
Having had mental health issues paired with bullying at school, Ella had struggled to concentrate on her studies.
She said: “My confidence was really low and I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone”
In Year 8, Ella was diagnosed with dyslexia and she acted out at school as she struggled with the lessons.
The teen said: “School was pretty difficult for me, every morning I would cry to my mum saying I don’t want to go in as soon as I got to the school gates. That’s when my anxiety kicked in.
She added: “I wasn't playing up and being and naughty for no reason, it was just because I needed help.”
In 2019, Ella came to DESC, an educational organisation helped by The Prince’s Trust in Hemel Hempstead.
Julie, who has already had a previous national winner from the centre, said: "When Ella started in the Prince's Trust programme, she obviously felt very lost. She didn't trust any adults at all. The teachers wanted her to build up her trust in education and to gain a qualification to put on a CV
Through The Prince’s Trust and the DESC, Ella was able to gain confidence and helped her to apply for a Health and Social Care course at her local college.
While at home with her mum and grandma, Ella was surprised by a video from her favourite EastEnders actress, Lacey Turner, who announced that she had won a national award from the Trust.
Lacey said: “The Prince's Trust and told me that your remarkable journey, you managed to turn around your negative educational experience and start a new chapter. So I'm excited to say that our judges have chosen you as this year's winner and the educational achiever award.”
Along with her friends and family, Ella walked the red carpet with scores of actors, music and sports stars for the prestigious event.
Singer Anne-Marie and radio host Clara Amfo introduced Ella and her story before she was called to the stage to meet Prince Charles.
Ella was interviewed in front of over 2,000 people by Ant and Dec who asked her what she wants to do next. The 16-year-old said that she hopes to work with children in a nursery.
She said: “I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me on my massive journey.”
After the emotional night, filled with tears, laughter and deserved applause, Prince Charles, who founded the chastity in 1976, gave a speech. He said: “I have no doubt that you will share my admiration for today's remarkable but they will be as impressed as I am by these stories of success.”
Ella’s headteacher, Sara Lalis said: “We are all so proud of Ella’s success” commented, “It’s a fantastic accolade for Ella and for all of us at DESC to get the recognition of the life-changing work we do with young people.”
The Prince’s Trust Awards will be broadcast on ITV on Thursday May 26 at 8pm.