Young people in Cornwall meet England footballer Marcus Rashford in online awards

Ajay, from Cornwall, was one of 12 national award winners taking home a NatWest Thrive award <i>(Image: NatWest)</i>
Ajay, from Cornwall, was one of 12 national award winners taking home a NatWest Thrive award (Image: NatWest)

Young people taking part in sessions with a Cornwall youth organisation were delighted when they got to meet England international footballer Marcus Rashford in an online awards celebration.

The young people got together for the awards at Young People Cornwall to celebrate their graduation after taking part in NatWest Thrive sessions over the summer at Zebs in Truro.

The footballer and campaigner took time out to join in the celebrations virtually to meet the young people and hear their stories first-hand, presenting NatWest Thrive awards and prizes as recognition for their achievements and dedication in the programme.

Ajay, from Cornwall, was revealed as one of 12 national award winners by Marcus, taking home a NatWest Thrive award in recognition of how much he achieved while on the programme.

Ajay said: “I really enjoyed the NatWest Thrive sessions. I've learned a lot about bank accounts and money, but also about confidence and having the courage to think big and go after your dreams. Meeting Marcus at our graduation was brilliant and it was good that he knows who we are and what we've achieved.”

The NatWest Thrive programme, supported by the National Youth Agency, ran at youth clubs across the country throughout the summer and the awards event, hosted by TikTok star Luke Vernon, saw the Cornwall youth club join the other participating clubs and Marcus for an online celebration of their achievements.

All of the young people at the event took home a graduation box filled with NatWest Thrive goodies and gifts to recognise their achievements, as well as a signed card from Marcus.

Marcus Rashford, MBE, said: “I’ve loved seeing how young people have embraced NatWest Thrive this summer - seeing what they have learnt and what they have taken away from the programme. Seeing them being open to trying new things and seeing their confidence grow throughout. Just brilliant.

“Many young people view money only as the root cause of anxiety and stress in the household and it is very rarely spoken about, at risk of upsetting those around you, so it was so important with NatWest Thrive that we approached the programme sensitively and with the aim of adjusting that mindset. Young people need to be able to visualise a successful future, and better understand the steps that need to be taken to achieve those goals. This programme had to be delivered by people they trusted, in an environment where their input and opinion is valued.

“I’m really proud of everyone involved as it’s clear to see the difference the programme has made even over this short period of time, with young people now able to see a world beyond just what they see on their doorstep.”

Alison Rose, NatWest Group CEO, said: “Supporting young people to achieve their potential is at the heart of our vision here at NatWest.

“By helping young people to understand money we are giving them the tools to be economically secure, build their financial confidence and overcome barriers to success.

“Role models are key to this – and that is why I’m delighted that Marcus has partnered with us to deliver our vision, share his experience, words of wisdom and inspire the next generation of young people to thrive and pursue their dreams.”

Abbee McLatchie, Director of Youth Work, National Youth Agency said: “We’ve been so impressed by everything the young people have achieved through the pilot of NatWest Thrive. It’s been wonderful to hear how it has helped unlock young people’s passions and equip them for pursuing their dreams. We wish all of the graduates every future success.”

NatWest, Marcus Rashford MBE and the National Youth Agency joined forces in April 2022 to develop and launch NatWest Thrive. Aimed at eight to 24-year-olds, the programme aims to help young people develop self-belief, inspire them to go after their dreams and encourage them to get into good money habits, addressing the emotional and psychological barriers that stop them thriving.

As part of the campaign, the NatWest Thrive Youth Club sessions ran across England throughout the summer, helping to address the lack of financial confidence and other emotional and psychological barriers to success that young people face today.

Lead by inspirational youth workers at 15 youth clubs across the country, young people took part in interactive, discussion-based sessions, designed to encourage self-reflection, broaden their horizons, cultivate their confidence and give them a grounding in how money works. The two-month programme focuses on three strands, Owning your Vision, Money Mindset and Money Talk.

The programme builds on NatWest’s long-term commitment to financial education and support for young people, such as its MoneySense programme which has run in schools across the UK for over 25 years.

For more information and to try out some NatWest Thrive activities for yourself, search ‘NatWest Thrive’ or visit