A humbling experience of lifetime

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On Wednesday May 17, my parents and I set off to London from York on the train to experience events which will remain permanently etched in our collective memories, writes Tadcaster Grammar pupil Jemima Browning.

We all felt an air of nervous excitement in anticipation. I still can’t believe I am one of only 20 inaugural Diana Legacy Award winners from across the globe!

The Diana Award had organised for the 20 award winners to attend a workshop hosted by Instagram. I was really pleased to be finally meeting the 19 other winners, who until this point were just mysterious strangers. I could hardly contain my excitement to speak to everyone and listen to their stories.

We entered a large conference room and took our seats. After some fantastic icebreakers, we all relaxed and got to know one another. The workshop showed us the best ways to utilise the fantastic features of Instagram to further our causes. It is exciting to think that I can demonstrate the importance of my cause to the public simply yet extremely effectively. I will be creating a page to further develop my work to better the lives of young people with disabilities through sport, leadership and empowerment.

That evening we were invited to a formal Welcome Reception. We were greeted by the smiles of our parents and the Diana award event organisers. We were all honoured to receive a heart-warming and nerve calming speech from the incredible Tessy Ojo, the CEO of the Diana Award, where she stated we were all now ‘her children’ and part of an influential movement to ensure the continuation of Princess Diana’s incredible work. The buzz could be felt from everyone as we all left to meet again on the big day.

Thursday May 18, the day had arrived. I awoke very early to get prepare for the events to follow. Firstly, my parents and I travelled to Regent High School, Kings Cross who had kindly agreed to allow me to sit my Chemistry GCSE exam. Before I knew it, the exam was over. I forgot the exam nerves and started look forward to the proceedings of the rest of the day.

After a very quick change of outfits, we arrived at St James’ Palace. The interior was breath-taking and had a magical feel to every room. The Reception was held in The Queen Anne Room and were able to spend time with the winners, their families and VIP guests. I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Dame Esther Rantzen and Maggie Turner OBE, the first CEO of the Diana Award.

Later, we were lead through to the Royal Throne Room for a private audience with Their Royal Highnesses, Prince William and Prince Harry. Our nerves collectively heightened as Prince Harry approached. It was such a surreal feeling to be stood in front of someone so amazing. We introduced ourselves in turn. His Royal Highness then turned to me and asked if I knew David Wiseman, Invictus Games Captain 2016. He then went onto say that ‘David Wiseman tells me you are going to be the next Prime Minister’. We both laughed and all my previous tension left me. Prince Harry and I then had a conversation about Tadcaster Stingrays and my other work with disability sport. He then made a lovely speech to our small group about the importance of our work and how pleased he is that young people like us are carrying on his mother’s legacy.

As we then entered the ceremony room where we were to be presented with our awards, a huge round of applause greeted us. I am and forever will be in awe of the incredible stories of the 19-incredible people I met over those two days. It was truly an experience that I will never forget. I wish to work more with the Diana Award in the future and feel honoured that I am now associated with someone as visionary as Princess Diana. I will relish every future opportunity to continue Diana’s Legacy and hopefully change the world.