The Pride Of Britain Awards are, I believe, a unique way to celebrate the achievements of some truly remarkable people, and hear something of their inspiring and humbling stories. I have seen for myself, when travelling around the country to witness this yearís terrible floods, the remarkable spirit of our people when challenged with adversity.
These marvellous awards remind all of us that, despite what one might think, throughout this country there are extraordinary people living selfless lives, showing unbelievable courage and caring for their families, neighbours and communities. I am delighted that once again my Trust has an award category to recognise young peopleís achievements. This yearís recipient embodies the essence of the Pride Of Britain Awards and is one of the many reasons why we should be proud of the young people who have overcome every kind of adversity and obstacle to change their lives for the better.
This yearís winner is just one of the 40,000 young people my Trust has supported in 2007, and one of 550,000 helped since 1976. I therefore couldnít be more pleased to declare Vicki Peters as The Princeís Trust Young Achiever for 2007. Vicki was a troubled teenager sneaking out of the family home, drinking alcohol and taking drugs, self-harming and smashing up her bedroom. She was being bullied and beaten up at school and at the age of 14, after her grandmother died Vicki tried to take her own life. After this cry for help, and despite treatment for depression, there was no diagnosis of any ongoing mental health problem. By 17, Vicki was a single mum. A year later, she found a new partner and got married. At the age of 23 she had a second child. But Vicki continued to struggle with her life and suffered a mental health breakdown which put her in hospital for three months.
Eventually she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition sometimes known as manic depression and believed to affect roughly one in 100 people in the UK as many as 600,000 sufferers. Vickiís recovery was painfully slow, and when she returned home to her family, her confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low. Even the most basic of daily tasks, such as getting dressed or making a cup of tea, were an enormous struggle. Then her mental health nurse told Vicki about The Princeís Trust and encouraged her to enrol on one of our 12-week personal development courses which help to develop skills such as teamwork, confidence and motivation.
Undertaking my Trustís course was a big challenge for Vicki, but over the weeks her confidence grew and her natural leadership skills started to emerge. By finding the strength and courage to open up about her own problems, Vicki was able to help other team members and find new confidence in herself. She was determined to turn her life around but, even more remarkably, Vicki was also determined to use her experiences to help other lonely, isolated people with difficult lives. Using her new-found confidence, Vicki applied for a job as a support worker for the learning disability charity MENCAP. She now works full-time in a support home looking after adults who have learning disabilities.
The difficulties she has overcome mean Vicki has a unique insight into the feelings and frustrations experienced by the adults she cares for. Vicki will always live with bipolar disorder, but she is determined it will not prevent her from achieving the things she dreams of doing. What makes her so remarkable and inspiring is that she is really determined to help others achieve their dreams too. As such, Vicki is a very worthy winner of this yearís Award and I can only offer her my heartfelt congratulations. I wish her every possible success for the future.