Stevenage residents recognised for turning their lives around

Chew Chong with Prince's Trust patron Leigh Smart

Chew Chong with Prince's Trust patron Leigh Smart - Credit: Archant

Two people have been recognised for overcoming significant personal difficulties and turning their lives around.

Lee Allinson with RBS regional director Gordon Brock

Lee Allinson with RBS regional director Gordon Brock - Credit: Archant

Chew Chong and Lee Allinson, both from Stevenage, were runners-up in The Prince’s Trust and Samsung Success Awards.

The annual awards – now in their 10th year – recognise the achievements of disadvantaged young people aged 13-30 supported by youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

Chew, 16, was named runner-up for the Leigh Smart Educational Achiever Award.

Socially isolated, racially bullied and facing huge language and cultural barriers, Chew began truanting from his school – Marriotts in Stevenage.

“My parents wanted to move me to a different school, but that wouldn’t have solved anything; it would have happened again. I had to stick it out,” he said.

Chew began attending his school’s xl club – a Prince’s Trust initiative which helps improve the confidence and motivation of young people struggling at school.

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He said: “The xl programme has helped me so much. I made friends, improved my language, and I get on at school much better because of it. I’m happier now.”

Chew no longer truants and offers guidance to other students.

Lee was named runner-up for the RBS Enterprise Award.

The 29-year-old excelled at football in his youth but when his plans of turning professional fell through, he found himself with no job prospects.

Lee, who subsequently got in trouble with police and drugs, said: “When my friend got sent down, it was a real wake-up call. I realised if I didn’t do something positive with my life, next time that could be me.”

Determined to make a go of it as a football coach, he joined The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme, which helps unemployed young people to start up in business.

Lee now coaches 70 to 100 youngsters every Friday night at the Stevenage FC Football Academy, assisted by seven staff. He also runs soccer camps and one-to-one skill sessions.

He said: “This is just the start for me. I feel positive about the future.”

The awards ceremony was held last Thursday in Peterborough.