Norwich man meets Cheryl Cole
A Norwich man who turned his life around following a spell of unemployment and being homeless has been honoured at a national awards ceremony.
Twenty-two-year-old Martin Wakenell met Prince Charles and was congratulated by singer Cheryl Cole at The Prince's Trust and L'Oreal Paris Celebrate Success Awards in London yesterday.
Mr Wakenell beat tens of thousands of young people and was one of four finalists in the Young Achiever of the Year Award, which honours exceptional people who have beaten the odds to achieve success and inspire others.
'Without the Prince's Trust, I wouldn't be where I am now. My life has changed beyond recognition and I'm so grateful for all the help and support I've received,' he said.
'To be up for a national award is the icing on the cake.' After losing his father when he was just 16, Mr Wakenell left school with just two qualifications. He ended up homeless and struggled to find full-time work.
Mr Wakenell joined the Prince's Trust's Get Into Hospital Services course at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which is supported by Serco Group.
He shone in a work placement as a hospital porter and his success led to a full-time job as a catering assistant at the hospital.
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Mr Wakenell is now completing an NVQ level two in support services.
He was honoured on-stage by Cheryl Cole and hosts Kimberley Walsh and Steve Jones in front of a 1,500-strong crowd at the Leicester Square Odeon.
Last night he said: 'I have had such a great time at the Celebrate Success Awards and I am really proud to be involved. I think meeting Cheryl Cole has been the highlight of my day.
'It has also been really worthwhile hearing other stories of how the Prince's Trust has helped turn young lives around. I'm really proud of the way I have turned my life around and I hope that my story will inspire other young people to do the same.'
Derrick Murphy, Norfolk County Council leader, said Mr Wakenell was a fantastic example to other young people.
'Martin's inspirational story shows that with the right support you can achieve no matter what your circumstances are,' he said.
Do you know somebody who has achieved success against the odds? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.