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Young Diana Award recipient gets exclusive visit to Number 10

Young Diana Award recipient gets exclusive visit to Number 10

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Young Diana Award recipient gets exclusive visit to Number 10

Winning top awards is supposed to open doors - but for one islander, they turned out to be the doors to the most powerful address in the country.

15-year-old Tom Hughes thought he was going to London to collect the Diana Award for his volunteer work with St John Ambulance, when he received a call from the Head of Communications at 10 Downing Street, who congratulated him on his award - and offered him the chance to take a look inside the home of the UK Prime Minister.

After missing the ceremony at St James' Palace in May because of his GCSEs, Tom finally received his award on Friday from the hands of Tessy Ojo, CEO of the charity, at a ceremony at Canary Wharf. He made the trip to London with his parents and three of his teachers at Haute Vallée.

Tom Hughes

Pictured: Tom Hughes with his teachers from Haute Vallée Rachel Gallagher, Emma McCartan and Catherine Laing.

While receiving the Champion Volunteer Award was an honor in itself, Tom was touched to see the description the Diana Award team made of him in the official booklet for the ceremony. It mentioned the 500 hours he has dedicated to the local community and how he has treated a wide range of injuries as well as his commitment to get children trained in first-aid skills. The booklet said he "has transformed local medical education in Jersey by introducing first aid into the curriculum from KS1-KS5."

Tom said: "There were little passages for each of the recipients. It was quite emotional to see all they said about me. The ceremony was amazing. It was nice. People were here to celebrate young people's achievements. There were incredible young people from all over the world. Some had raised money for the charities who helped them and their families, others who had been bullied and who are speaking out against bullying.

"It was also amazing to see the kind of connections you can make. A headteacher from Greece approached me after the ceremony and we spoke about first-aid. I am hoping we will all be able to keep in touch and continue our work as Diana Award recipients. Someone mentioned coming back next year to host the ceremony, it would be great to be able to celebrate others' achievements."

As if receiving award wasn't enough to make his trip to London one to remember, Tom also got the chance to visit the Prime Minister's very own residence. While visits are usually avoided for security reasons, the team made an exception for Tom. After he contacted them, they initially refused but the Head of Communications at Downing Street called him back a few hours later to tell him he had the permission from the security team to step inside. Tom said: "It was weird to see the other side of the door. It doesn't look real, the best way I can describe it is as a film set. It was an amazing experience to be able to see the inside and I cannot thank the Communications Team and PC Richard for making it happen."

Tom Hughes

Pictured: Tom with the other Diana Award recipients and Tessy Ojo, CEO.

While he sadly didn't get to meet a member of the Royal family, Tom, along with the other award recipients, also got to step into Kensington Palace to see the exhibition dedicated to Diana. He said: "It was amazing to visit Kensington Palace, where HRH Prince Harry and William and Kate live and there was a real sense of Diana within the building. Her dresses were amazing and really made the exhibition come to life."

After the Diana Award opened the doors of Number 10 for him, Tom hopes that it will also help with his future career. Having also received the Pride of Jersey Award and through his academic achievements, he hopes he will be able to stand out from the crowd when times come to apply for his paramedic course, hopefully at St. George's in London. In the meantime, the teen, whom the Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst called "inspirational", will be focusing on his role as Cadet of the Year at St. John. His term finishes in December but after that he aims to keep on promoting the message of first-aid skills with islanders of all ages.

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