A student from Sunderland is celebrating after being presented with a prestigious national award by HRH The Duke of Cambridge.
Josh Gargett, 19, from Redhouse, was presented with the Centrepoint Education Award at Kensington Palace earlier this year for his achievements after leaving care.
Youth homeless charity Centrepoint, of which The Duke is patron, organised the Centrepoint Awards to honour the achievements of young people who have overcome adversity to succeed. Josh, who has spent time in care, received his award for his education success after earning a place at Northumbria University to study sports science.
Josh said: “I wasn’t sure about university when I first went into care. It’s not something you think is realistic because of all the hurdles you have to go through – but thanks to the great support I’ve had from Together for Children I decided to go for it and haven’t looked back. There is always someone to talk to if I have any issues.
“It really was an honour to be recognised for the Education Award. I never thought I’d be at a ceremony hosted by Prince William with celebrities like Emilia Clark and Jonathan Ross.”
Josh has been supported to leave care and enter university by the Next Steps Team at Together for Children. Young care leavers in Sunderland are supported to find housing, education opportunities or work and to provide social and emotional support when it’s needed.
Josh added: “I think people assume you won’t be bothered about university or doing well if you’re a care leaver. I’m proud of my achievements and hopefully other care leavers will read this and be encouraged to go after what they want.”
Sue Carty, Together for Children’s Acting Chief Executive, said: “We’re always looking at ways to improve the lives of care leavers and Josh’s story is a great example of how the right support can lead to great achievements.
“Many care leavers have overcome significant challenges in their lives and I am very proud of Josh for being so resilient.”
Councillor Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children's Services, said: "It is really important that the achievements of care leavers are recognised so that they have confidence in themselves to work hard and achieve success in life.
“I am really proud of Josh and his achievements - he is a great role model for all young people especially those who have had to overcome personal difficulties in their lives.”