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Queen Of England Honours Three Young Nigerians

Valentine Chinyem

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The Queen of England, Elizabeth II has presented the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award to three young Nigerians, whose works has been transforming lives positively in their respective communities.

The youths whose names are Hauwa Ojeifo, Isaac Ezirim and Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph, received the awards at a special ceremony organised for them at Buckingham Palace, London. They are a part of cohorts drawn from 38 Commonwealth countries, whose initiatives are tackling global issues such as climate change, food scarcity, gender-based violence, mental health, and access to education.

The Queen was joined at the Award ceremony by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Other guests including David Beckham OBE, Sir Lenny Henry CBE, Nicola Adams OBE, Neelam Gill, Caspar Lee, Tina Daheley, Ore Oduba and Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Sir John Major, joined Award winners at Buckingham Palace to congratulate them on their remarkable achievements.

The Duke of Sussex, who was recently named a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador said: “In this rapidly changing world, it is heartening to meet so many inspiring young people gathered here today, who have already stepped up as leaders and improved the lives of so many people across the Commonwealth. You are the hope and optimism the world needs and we will all do whatever we can to support you in it.

David Beckham OBE, who was also present at the ceremony, said: “I’m so proud to be here with the Queen’s Young Leaders tonight. It’s really inspiring to meet these hardworking young people, who continue to dedicate their time and energy to helping other people live a better life. Hearing their stories and the sacrifices they’ve made is a real honour and I feel very privileged to celebrate with them today.”

28-year old Isaac Ezirim, one of the award recipients, is the founder of ‘Teens Can Code’, which is currently training 200 teenagers from low income areas, how to build web and mobile applications using the same tools that are used by professionals in the tech industry.

He said: “I am extremely honoured and thankful to Her Majesty The Queen for this prestigious Award in recognition of the work I am doing in Nigeria. These are moments of utmost happiness for me and the communities I serve. It’s been such an amazing experience being here in the UK and meeting all of the other Award winners. Being part of the Queen’s Young Leaders family is exciting and I can’t wait to take this to the next level.”

Hauwa Ojeifo, 26, runs a women’s support group called She Writes Women, which focuses on mental health support and outreach among some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

She said: “It is a rare privilege to receive an Award from Her Majesty The Queen for the work I am doing in mental health in Nigeria. It has been a completely transformative experience being here in the UK getting mentored by world leaders, trained and engaging in top level meetings with some of the most powerful and influential change makers of our time. Perhaps the most humbling part is being part of a network of fellow young leaders across the Commonwealth whose knowledge and resource base is far reaching. I can’t wait to see what we do with these valuable connections in the future.”

The youngest awardee, Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph, who is juat 20 years of age is the founder of Calabar Youth Council for Women’s Rights (CYCWR), which supports the rights of women in the areas of female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic abuse, forced child marriage and access to education for girls

He said: “I am honoured to be a recipient of the final ever Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty The Queen. As a budding global leader, this Award is a huge responsibility for me moving forward to continue to live up to this Award and leverage all the opportunities it presents to develop my society. I have been able to meet other Award winners and learn about the incredible work they are doing across the Commonwealth. I have learned so much from the Residential Programme in the UK and I am sure that it is only just the beginning.”

With the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, Hauwa, Isaac and Kennedy have now gained access to mentoring and training offered through the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, to better shape their leadership skills.

Sir John Major, chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to all the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders. Together with our Award Winners from the last three years, they complete a unique, 240-strong cohort of Young Leaders from all across the Commonwealth.”

“Each and every one of our 240 Young Leaders is a remarkable and exceptional young person, who I have no doubt will play an important role in shaping our future world. It has been an absolute privilege and delight to get to know them,” he said.