A teenager from Larne has been named a runner-up for the Stena Line Educational Achiever Award.
Paul Laverty, 16, was one of just three people in Northern Ireland shortlisted for this year’s Award.
The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & HomeSense Celebrate Success Awards recognise the achievements of disadvantaged young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.
Paul experienced a difficult childhood and low academic attainment followed. However, while he could have made bad choices in life, he was committed to working.
Paul found a job washing cars at weekends and kept his head down at school, despite fears that he would never get anywhere in life.
He said: “All I knew was that I’d never get a decent job, no matter how hard I tried at school.”
Teaching staff suggested Paul enrol on the xl programme, a course from The Prince’s Trust that improves the confidence and motivation of young people who are struggling at school.
It immediately struck a chord with Paul, who excelled from day one. Kind and considerate, it was Paul who would support and motivate the other students. He took control of fundraisers without being asked and took it upon himself to raise money for, and single-handedly paint, his school’s former youth club; after they pledged its use for The Prince’s Trust programme.
He said: “Our Youth Club was pretty shabby. I looked at it and thought that no-one is going to be inspired in a room like that, so I decided to repaint it. It took a week to do it, but it looks great now and hopefully the people being supported by The Prince’s Trust will like it too.”
His positive work ethic earned him a job offer during a work placement, a school prefect’s badge, and the Rotary Club’s title of Young Citizen of the Year.
Paul is now studying joinery at college and making the first big steps towards his career. There’s no question in his mind that he will succeed.
“I love The Prince’s Trust! They have given me the confidence to know that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to,” he says.
Stena Line’s Head of PR and Communications (Irish Sea), Diane Poole OBE, said: “It’s my pleasure to congratulate Paul for being one of just three people in Northern Ireland shortlisted for this year’s Stena Line Educational Achiever of the Year Award. He has shown great resilience and determination to achieve success, and should be proud of his achievements.”
The ceremony which Paul attended in Belfast was hosted by Pete Snodden & Kirstie McMurray and attended by a host of public figures.