Ballygally Castle employee honoured to meet the King

Ballygally Castle employee honoured to meet the King
A young man from Larne who overcame huge hurdles to become part Ballygally Castle Hotel’s kitchen team has won a prestigious national Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx and Homesense Award.

Paul Laverty scooped the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star award, which recognises a young person who, having built up their confidence and skills, has overcome barriers to secure and recently start employment, education or training.

The 24-year-old attended a reception at Buckingham Palace to meet King Charles, founder of The Prince’s Trust, who congratulated the award winners on their achievements.

Paul, an employee of Ballygally Castle, was also honoured at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Ant and Dec, and attended by many celebrity supporters and ambassadors of the youth charity. He was presented his award by Mia McKenna-Bruce and Roman Kemp

The Awards shine a light on the inspirational stories of young people, volunteers and those who support their wider communities. It showcases the impact of The Trust’s work building the confidence and skills needed to get into a job, education, training or self-employment.

Paul had a difficult childhood and was diagnosed with ADHD and a learning difficulty at the age of 7. His school days were a struggle, but he sought help from The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme and left school with some qualifications.

During the programme, he did a placement at Ballygally Castle and, at the end of the placement, he was offered a temporary role in the kitchen. Ballygally were so impressed with his work ethic that they offered him a full-time permanent contract – a life-changing moment for Paul. He was finally able to provide for his family and put the past behind him. He has now been in the role for more than six months and has found a career he loves.

On winning the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star award Paul, said: “I really can’t believe I’ve won the national Rising Star Award, it means so much to me. I didn’t think people would believe in me but now I can see how far I have come.

Paul was presented his award by Mia McKenna-Bruce and Roman Kemp. Credit: Alastair Fyfe

“I’m so grateful to the staff at Ballygally, The Prince’s Trust and my family for supporting me along the way. I hope I can show other young people who’ve had a difficult start in life that anything is possible, no matter where you’re from or what barriers you face.”

Scott Weatherup, general manager of Ballygally Castle, explained: “We are so proud of Paul Laverty for winning a prestigious Prince’s Trust Award. Paul is an inspiring young man who is a fantastic example of someone who has overcome adversity, believed in himself and worked incredibly hard. On behalf of everyone at Ballygally Castle and across Hastings Hotels, I’d like to congratulate Paul and we look forward to watching him continue to flourish!”