A campaigner who came forward with allegations of historical sexual abuse said it was “surreal” to receive a national award from the Prince of Wales on Wednesday.
Dylan England, 26, was given the honour at a star-studded ceremony organised by the Prince’s Trust, a charity set up by Prince Charles in 1976 to help troubled young people into employment and education.
Describing the “systematic abuse” he suffered as a child, England said he came forward seven years ago after he noticed the same “cycle of abuse” being inflicted on a new generation of children.
He was forced to give evidence for two days in court, and received a backlash from some people he knew.
He sank deep into mental illness and says he was “bounced” between medical services, told by his GP that he was too ill for them, and told by mental health services that he was “not ill enough”.
He tried to take his own life several times and eventually agreed to join the Prince’s Trust development programme, a 12-week course for troubled young men and women hoping to improve their lives.
Accepting the award at the London Palladium, England said: “I had to show [my friends] that I’d tried one more time, so I found the Prince’s Trust team programme, and I thought ‘I’ll do this for 12 weeks, and as soon as it’s over I’ll take my life’. That was me proving I’d tried.
“I met the team leaders and they were incredible. They showed me I can have fun, I do have a place in this world. I was able to do fun things, I made new friends.”
Speaking to Phillip Schofield and Fearne Cotton, who presented the ceremony, England said: “[The Prince’s Trust] gave me that self-belief. They believed in me when no-one else wanted to. They’re not mental health professionals, but it’s just making my feel like I belong to something. That’s why I stayed, and that’s why I continue to stay.
“I just want to say to the Prince’s Trust: You saved my life, thank you.”
After finishing his 12-week course, England returned to the charity as a volunteer, later securing a paid position as an Assistant Team Leader.
Jazmin Lee, meanwhile, received the National NatWest Enterprise Award at Wednesday’s ceremony. The 27-year-old created her own fashion line, Plus Equals, after a difficult childhood where she was forced to act as a carer for her grandmother following the loss of her mother at the age of seven.
The Prince’s Trust says it supports 11 to 30 years old who are unemployed, struggling at school, or at risk of exclusion. Many of the young men and women helped the charity have been in trouble with the law, or may have fallen into homelessness, poverty, or drug addiction.
Other award winners included: Kieran Egan, given the National HSBC Breakthrough Award; Rahul Mehra, given Mentor of the Year in Association with Good Morning Britain; Jay Kelly, given the National Ascential Educational Achiever Award; Grace Graham, given the National Mappin & Webb Young Ambassador Award; Rachel Smyth, given the National Delta Airlines Rising Star Award; 'Team 34', given the National Dell EMC Community Impact Award; and Nilan Tambe and Ahmad Abu Rumman , given the Aga Khan Development Network Global Award.