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Antrim success story picks up Royal award

Gavin Andrews, 32 from Antrim was runner up for the Titanic Quarter Ltd. Young Ambassador Award at The Princes Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.  He is pictured here with David Gavaghan, Chief Executive with award sponsors Titanic Quarter Ltd.

Gavin Andrews, 32 from Antrim was runner up for the Titanic Quarter Ltd. Young Ambassador Award at The Princes Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards. He is pictured here with David Gavaghan, Chief Executive with award sponsors Titanic Quarter Ltd.

A young man from Antrim who turned his life around with help from The Prince’s Trust, has collected a prestigious award at the youth charity’s annual ceremony.

Gavin Andrews, 32, was runner-up for the Titanic Quarter Ltd. Young Ambassador of the Year Award at The Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards held last week.

The Titanic Quarter Ltd Young Ambassador of the Year Award recognises young people who are exceptional Young Ambassadors. Young people who have successfully completed a Prince’s Trust course can apply to be a Young Ambassador to volunteer their time, share their personal experiences and inspire others.

Gavin contracted a rare disease called encephalitis as young child. It triggered a severe brain injury which has left him with severe memory issues and lifelong learning problems. During this difficult time his parents were told that if he responded to the anti-convulsion medication that they needed to prepare themselves that Gavin would be very different to the boy they had once known.

Gavin did respond to treatment during a time in coma, but suffered with severe memory problems, learning difficulties, intense headaches, hallucinations, personality changes, memory loss and emotional distress throughout his childhood.

“Mum and Dad coped best they could during this time even though my illness pulled them apart. It was an extremely difficult time due to the serious implications of the disease and lack of awareness of the illness itself; none of us really understood what I was going through, and there were inevitable family arguments.”

Getting bullied during school suffering from depression and feeling very isolated, Gavin wanted to end it all.

He left school without any qualifications, but despite his confidence issues, managed to secure an apprenticeship. Then the recession came, and with it multiple redundancy’s. Gavin tried to drink his problems away, but only sank into a depression.

Gavin enrolled on Enterprise, a Prince’s Trust programme that supports unemployed young people to explore and test their ideas, write plans and start their own businesses or achieve other goals in education, training work or volunteering.

“Enterprise opened my eyes to so many possibilities. It gave me my voice back and allowed me to feel happy again in my own skin.”

When Enterprise was over, Gavin had focus and determination but it wasn’t until he became a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador that his confidence truly soared.

He represented The Trust at a number of high profile events, sharing his experiences with many influential individuals and celebrities. He was the first Young Ambassador to co-host the Celebrate Success Awards in 2012, and has supported volunteer activities and new recruits to the Young Ambassadors programme. His positive approach is an inspiration to us all.

David Gavaghan, Chief Executive of Titanic Quarter Ltd said: “There is no doubt that Gavin deserves recognition for the way he has transformed his life since coming to The Prince’s Trust. We hope that other local young people will be inspired by his story.”

 

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