A brave and inspirational young woman, who was on the brink of death and has battled sexual abuse, rape, and an eating disorder, has beat the odds to help bring in £2m. to a charity that supports vulnerable young people.
Now Laura Tombs, from Burnley, has been nominated for a prestigious award that recognises the achievements of disadvantaged young people who have succeeded against the odds to improve their chances in life.
Laura (26) is just one of three people from the North-West who have been put forward for the Young Ambassador of the Year title at the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards , sponsored by TK Maxx and HomeSense tin Liverpool tomorrow night (Thursday, November 3rd).
Laura said: “I feel so privileged to be nominated for this award. It has made me realise that all the work I have done with the Trust has been recognised and that really makes me feel proud of myself and now I know that I am worth something.”
Laura had the courage to tell the moving story of her life which helped her to secure £2.2m. in donations for the Prince’s Trust as people heard of how she faced tragedy and adversity. Laura was brave enough to speak publicly for the first time at the Trust’s star studded Invest in Futures event in London, the organisation’s biggest fund-raising event.
Laura now works for a mental health training charity and has also developed a training programme for professionals around eating disorders. She is also studying health and social care at college.
Speaking about how the Trust helped her Laura said: “I used to have no purpose in life, no real meaning to my everyday existence.
“The Prince’s Trust programmes gave me a reason to get up everyday and boosted my confidence and self-esteem.
“It changed my life and I wanted to give back to The Trust, so asked if I could become a Young Ambassador.”
Laura was just 12 when she began suffering from emotional and sexual abuse which she endured until she was 14.
By then she was suffering with anxiety and depression, and began self-harming. Feeling she had no-one to turn to, Laura’s life became a web of secrets.
Hoping for a fresh start, Laura moved to college to study musical theatre but at 16 her life changed forever when she was raped by a stranger. Laura subsequently became very ill with anorexia and her health deteriorated rapidly.
Laura said: “I dropped out of studying teaching and for the next two years I was in and out of eating disorder clinics and acute psychiatric wards.
“I tried to take my own life and was sectioned twice – once for six months.”
When Laura’s heart started to fail, she was given a week to live but miraculously this remarkable young woman showed her true grit and survived.
Determined to start a new life, Laura moved from Warwickshire to Burnley to start her recovery where she heard about Team, a Prince’s Trust programme that builds the confidence and employability prospects of unemployed young people.
It took guts, but she thrived in the environment and went on to complete three more subsequent Prince’s Trust programmes.