Three Indians (including two women), two Sri Lankans, a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi will be presented the inaugural Queen's Young Leader awards by Her Majesty at a star studded ceremony in the Buckingham Palace on 22 June. The awards have been set up by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in association with Comic Relief and Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), will run over 4 years and the winners are chosen from across 53 Commonwealth nations each year. This year's ceremony will be attended by star footballer David Beckham and be hosted by Chairman of the organisation Sir John Major. A video from actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie as well as the work of the Queen's Young Leaders will be shown on the night.
As 2015 winners of this prestigious Award, the Queen's Young Leaders will receive a unique package of training at the University of Cambridge, where the mentoring and networking will be provided by British businesses, as well as a one week residential programme in the UK, during which the winners will collect their award from Her Majesty the Queen. With this support (which is not financial), Award winners are expected to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities across the Commonwealth.
26 years old Ashwini Angadi, 27 years old Akshay Jadhao and 24 years old Devika Malik from India, 26 years old Thejitha Saubhagya Ediringhe and 19 years old Kavindya Thennakoon, 27 years old Salman Ahmad from Pakistan and 26 years old Shamir Shehab are amongst the 60 winner who are travelling to the UK for the first time this week.
Ashwini is visually impaired, offering education to disabled students from rural areas who face exclusion and discrimination, while Devika was born with hemiplegia, which paralyses half of the body. She promotes inclusion and raises funds for disabled people, promoting better access and equality for them. Akshay grew up in the rural farming region of Vidarbha, and launched education and skill courses to improve job opportunities for young people. Shamir set up Bangladesh Youth Environmental initiative and runs National Earth Olympiad, which educates students about climate change while Salman who has mobility problems co-founded the GADE Foundation to encourage young men and women to involve in enterprise. Experiencing the country's civil war, Thejitha set up Human Wing International and helps people to learn and communicate in different languages and Kavindya, who was raised by her mother, after her police officer father died, founded Without Borders, which aims to tackle the lack of quality education and employment.
The week for the achievers, will include a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, a visit to the Twitter headquarter in Soho, a lunch with media executives at the BBC, awards at Buckinghum palace, dinner at St James's Palace, an induction in Cambridge University over two days, meeting with leading business brands in the UK, High Commission reception by Canada House, meeting at the Commonwealth Secretariat, visit to ten UK charitable and enterprise organisations and a final celebration on 26th June at the BT Tower.
Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming the first Queen's Young Leaders to London on the 22nd, for many of whom it will be their first visit to the UK. It will be such an honour to witness these exceptional young people receiving their awards from Her Majesty The Queen for their incredible work in their countries and across the Commonwealth.
The Queen's Young Leaders programme discovers, celebrates and supports exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth. Nominations for 2016 opens on Monday 22 June at www.queensyoungleaders.com, 7pm onwards. Twitter: @Queensleader #QueensYoungLeaders #TheSearchIsOn