Mansion House Gala Dinner showcases power of the Award

Published: 6 Jan 2016

Harry Collins and HRH The Earl of Wessex

Supporters of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation were recently treated to a fabulous gala dinner at the Mansion House in London.

The event marked the end of Harry Collins’s appointment as honorary Chair of the World Fellowship and served as an opportunity for the global Award family to thank him for his tremendous support.

During the course of the evening guests had the opportunity to discover the transformational power of the Award first-hand from two young men from Australia. Michael Marino, an Award Leader and Tonto Nteziryayo, a Bronze Award holder travelled to London to explain how the Award makes a difference in their communities.

Michael spoke passionately about the empowering nature of the Award and how it helps young people develop self-belief:

“From the outside it would seem that The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award awards recipients with a beautiful certificate and a pin. But in reality it awards participants with pathways to empowerment and resilience building.

It transitions young people from believing they can achieve to knowing they can achieve and empowers them to take ownership of the community they wish to live in. This is the ‘becoming’ that is of such critical importance to young people.”

The other guest speaker, Tonto, was one of the very participants in whom Michael saw such a transformation. Tonto made an incredibly moving speech about his escape from civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and his subsequent migration to Australia.

Gala Dinner Mansion House 2015

One of the big challenges for Tonto when he first arrived in Australia was his lack of English. However thanks to continued practice as a side-effect of his retail training course which he completed for the Skills section of his Award, Tonto’s English drastically improved. So much so that he spoke easily in front of over 100 guests including TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of the City of London.

On the night guests were able to bid in a silent auction and buy tickets for a prize draw for a Maserati sports car. The event raised over £150,000 and thanks to the generosity of supporters who donated the prizes, 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting the growth and development of the Award around the world.

Gala Dinner Mansion House 2015

We’d like to thank all of our World Fellows and supporters for their generosity at the dinner. If you are interested in hearing more about how the Award changes the lives of young people around the world, read our Award Stories.