An inspirational young woman from Burnley, who has overcome personal obstacles in her life, including abuse and depression, has been named as runner up in a star studded awards ceremony attended by Prince Charles.
Laura Tombs (26) was pipped at the post for the Mappin and Webb Young Ambassador of the Year Award at a red carpet ceremony, hosted by Ant and Dec, at the London Palladium.
Laura was put forward for the award after being named as the North West BAE Systems Young Ambassador of the Year
Laura said: “It meant a lot to be here today as one of the finalists. Hearing everyone else’s stories has been inspirational.
"Without The Prince’s Trust I wouldn’t have the self-esteem and self-belief I have now. My next step is to become a nurse so I can help other people in the same way as I’ve been helped.”
Now in its 13th year, the Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx Celebrate Success Awards recognises disadvantaged young people who have overcome issues such as abuse, drug addiction, homelessness, depression and unemployment.
A series of regional events took place in November 2016 and culminated in the national final at the Palladium. Seven awards were given out by Prince’s Trust Celebrity Ambassadors, including the HomeSense Young Achiever Award which recognises young people who have struggled through unimaginable difficulties to transform their lives and are now inspiring others to strive for such success.
Thierry Henry, Claudia Winkleman, Emilia Fox, Gemma Arterton, Phillip Schofield and Nick Grimshaw were among the celebrities who attended.
Laura was 12 when she began suffering from emotional and sexual abuse. The abuse carried on for years and by the age of 14, 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.
She 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 she survived and during her recovery, she heard about Team - a Prince’s Trust programme that builds the confidence and employability prospects of unemployed young people so Laura decided to give it a go.
It took guts for her to take part, but she thrived in the environment and went on to complete three more subsequent Prince’s Trust programmes.
She added: “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 every day 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.”
Sharing her story in a way that never failed to move her audience, Laura has been courageous in telling her story and has helped to secure £2.2 million in donations for The Trust.
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 in preparation for her nursing career.
Elizabeth Galton, Creative Director at Mappin and Webb said “We are delighted that Laura’s fantastic work for The Prince’s Trust has been recognised today. Not only did Laura turn her own life around but she is now inspiring other young people to do the same with the help of The Trust. A truly inspirational young woman."