Hartlepool teen gets royal recognition for turning her life around

Melissa Shaw with her award.
Melissa Shaw with her award.

A Hartlepool teenager who turned her life around has been given Royal recognition.

Melissa Shaw, 16, says she’s over the moon after winning the NAC Group Educational Achiever of the Year Award at The Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.

Melissa with fellow nominees Harleigh Ward and Anthony Warwick.

Melissa with fellow nominees Harleigh Ward and Anthony Warwick.

She joined a host of other inspirational young people at a glittering ceremony at The Sage Gateshead, where she was presented with her trophy.

Melissa said: “I’m so happy to have won and really grateful for everything the Trust has done for me.”

Before becoming involved with Prince’s Trust, Melissa says she shut down in group situations.

She was acutely shy and because she had a moderate learning difficulty she relied heavily on one-to-one support throughout the school day.

She said: “I didn’t like school. I hated being in groups because I hated attention. I was always too scared to speak up.”

Hoping it would help break down some of her barriers, Melissa was referred to the xl programme, an initiative from The Prince’s Trust that is run in schools and helps improve the confidence and motivation of pupils who are finding school tough.

She responded well and felt less self-conscious in xl’s informal learning environment, and even started participating in group work.

Soon, she had not only made new friends, but was proactively taking the role of leader in her group.

She excelled in sporting units, refereed in games and even plucked up the courage to attend her first-ever interview as part of a career planning unit.

Melissa, who is soon to start college, was one of the first young people at xl to achieve her Personal Development and Employability diploma and blossomed into a confident, popular and happy young woman who loves her independence.

Maureen Askew, head of operations at NAC Group, said: “Everyone at NAC Group is proud to celebrate the achievements of Melissa and we’d like to congratulate her, we’re sure she’s got a bright future ahead.

“Melissa is testament that, with determination and hard work, anyone can turn their life around.”