Find out why these Norwich and Cromer youngsters could be honoured for turning their lives around

PUBLISHED: 14:42 01 November 2012

Darren Atkins who has turned his life around and has been nominated for a Princes Trust Award. Picture: Denise Bradley

Darren Atkins who has turned his life around and has been nominated for a Princes Trust Award. Picture: Denise Bradley


Two young people from Norfolk, who have turned their lives around have been nominated for prestigious royal awards.

The Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards honour the achievements of disadvantaged young people supported by the trust who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact in the community.

Darren Atkins who lives in Clarkson Road, near Dereham Road, has been nominated for the educational achiever of the year award, which recognises young people who have overcome barriers and developed new skills to improve their future.

The 14-year-old said he did not like school and resorted to swearing and being aggressive in classes.

He was referred to The Prince’s Trust xl club run with Respect4Us, which helps young people at risk of underachievement or exclusion from school.

“I didn’t get on with some of my teachers. I bunked off school a couple of times,” Darren said. “Respect4Us was good. We went on trips and had one-to-one sessions where we would talk about our problems.”

Darren developed an interest in cooking, regained his confidence and used his skills at the beginning of June when he helped prepare the food for a Diamond Jubilee street party at City College Norwich. He is now working towards his dream of becoming a chef.

Darren said: “Thanks to the amazing support I received, for the first time I feel I can fulfil my ambitions for the future. I am really grateful.”

Samantha Jones, 25, who lives in Cromer, has been nominated for the Konica Minolta Young Ambassador Award.

The award recognises young people who are inspiring others through their personal experience of turning their lives around.

At 16, Miss Jones’ ambition to join the Royal Air Force was crushed when she was diagnosed with diabetes. She drifted between bar jobs and unemployment and moved into semi-supported housing.

“I tried a couple of different jobs but I had no motivation,” she said. “I didn’t have a plan B and I was lost for a while.”

It was a visit to hospital which inspired her to pursue a career in the health service and she joined the Prince’s Trust Get into Hospital Services where she gained qualifications in literacy and numeracy.

“I am really excited about the future. I got a job as a recruitment administrator at the Norfolk and Norwich Univeristy Hospital and have won the central and east region advanced apprentice of the year award.

“It’s exciting to have been nominated for the award. I would like to say a massive thank you to the Princes Trust.”

Miss Jones is also an ambassador for the trust.

The awards ceremony will take place at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge on Monday, November 5.

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