Her Majesty The Queen welcomes Commonwealth’s first ever Queen’s Young Leaders

Her Majesty The Queen will tonight welcome the Commonwealth’s first ever Queen’s Young Leaders. The exceptional young people will receive a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award for making lasting change in their communities, in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Ahead of the ceremony, four of the young leaders were pictured in London’s iconic black cabs as they headed off for a day of exciting engagements, including meeting the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street, visiting the UK headquarters of global social networking company Twitter and meeting with senior executives at the BBC World Service.

The pictured Award winners include: Isaiah Owolabi, 27, from Nigeria who has been selected in recognition of his work supporting disadvantaged women and girls; Nicola Byrom, 27, from Oxford who has been selected for her work championing student mental health; Zoe Jackson, 25, from St Albans who has been selected for her efforts to inspire young people through performing arts; and Erna Takazawa, 26, Samoa’s first and only optometrist who has been selected for her work promoting affordable eye care across the country.

Other winners have travelled from all over the Commonwealth, including Salman Ahmad, 27, from Pakistan who has been selected in recognition of his work to champion rights for disabled people; and Kavindya Thennakoon, 19, from Sri Lanka who has been selected for her work to tackle the lack of quality education and employment in her community.

Joining The Queen to celebrate the winners’ achievements will be members of The Royal Family, including: His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Award winners also celebrated their achievements with Sir John Major, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Duncan Bannatyne, David Beckham, John Bishop, Rob Brydon, Gemma Cairney, Fearne
Cotton, Jamal Edwards, Emma Freud, Steve McQueen and David Walliams.

The programme was established in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and is run in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Societyin honour of The Queen’s more than 60-years contribution to the Commonwealth.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Sir John Major, said

In the 53 countries of the Commonwealth, over half the population - 1.3 billion people out of a total of 2.2 billion – is aged under 30.  These young people are the future.  We need their energy, talent and creativity to respond to new challenges. This Award was devised to recognise the good they are doing, to promote their talent, and provide the opportunity for them to reach their full potential.  Today, the first 60 Queen’s Young Leaders are in London to receive their Award from Her Majesty The Queen.  They come from thirty five Commonwealth countries.  Their stories may all be very different, but they are all inspiring.

Following tonight’s ceremony, The Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners will spend four days in the UK to take part in a residential development programme as part of the Award package. The programme includes a two day residential at the University of Cambridge to continue the online training they have been taking part in since January. The Young Leaders will then go on to meet with UK business leaders and visit life-changing social action projects, finished off on Friday 26th June, with a celebratory dinner at the top of the BT Tower.

If you or someone you know is doing inspiring work like this year’s Queen’s Young Leaders, from 7pm tonight you can apply or nominate someone for a 2016 Award at www.queensyoungleaders.com.

For more information contact:

Anouska Russell at Comic Relief on 020 7820 2500 or a.russell@comicrelief.com

Notes to editors
Queen’s Young Leaders on social media

Twitter: @queensleaders

Instagram: @queensyoungleaders

Facebook: facebook.com/queensyoungleaders

Hashtag: #QueensYoungLeaders

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society, has established The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 60 years of service to the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. Guided by the values of the Commonwealth Charter, the goal of the Programme is to enable young people to step up as leaders and improve the lives of people across the Commonwealth.

Award details

Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 exceptional young people will be selected to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award and become ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ – one for every year that The Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. This year’s Award winners are aged between 18 and 29 and are working to support others, raise awareness and inspire change on a variety of different issues including education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality.

As part of the Award, winners will receive bespoke mentoring and online learning provided by the University of Cambridge. Award winners will attend a week-long residential programme in the UK in June, when they will receive their Award at Buckingham Palace from Her Majesty The Queen.

Criteria to win an award:

** Nominees will have proven experience of working to improve their communities locally, regionally or at a national level and will show evidence of their achievements

** Nominees will be aged between 18 and 29 for the year of the Award and be citizens of a Commonwealth country

** Nominees will demonstrate evidence of their leadership qualities

** Priority will be given to individuals who have overcome challenges to achieve their goals

** All nominees will need to be supported by a suitable referee

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is a charitable foundation, established in 2012, to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s  60-year contribution to the Commonwealth. The Trust has received donations from governments, corporate partners, trusts, foundations, community groups and individuals from across the Commonwealth, and its programmes work in alliance towards eliminating avoidable blindness and to empower a new generation of young leaders. With a five-year timeframe in which to deliver successful programmes, the Trust’s aim is to leave a lasting legacy, owned by the whole Commonwealth, to honour Her Majesty 

The Queen. For more information go to: www.jubileetribute.org

Comic Relief

Established in 1985, Comic Relief is a major UK fundraising and grant making charity which uses the power of entertainment to create long-lasting change. Its vision is a just world, free from poverty. It strives to make this vision a reality by supporting poor, disadvantages and vulnerable people in the UK and across some of the world’s poorest
communities to change their own lives for the better. Discover more at: www.comicrelief.com

Royal Commonwealth Society

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), founded in 1868, is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world. Working through a range of educational, civil society, business and governmental networks,vthe RCS addresses issues that matter to the Commonwealth citizens. For more information go to:www.thercs.org