A man from Newport described by King Charles as "inspirational" has won this year's Mirror Pride of Britain Award. Alex Anderson, 22, won this year’s Prince’s Trust Young Achiever award after becoming one of the first people with Asperger’s syndrome to join the Royal Air Force.
Alex was presented with the award at a ceremony in London by Hollywood star Idris Elba. But that's not where the surprises ended for Alex when after being handed the award he received a personal letter from the King himself, reports The Mirror.
In the letter read out by the actor the monarch said: “His is an inspirational story of triumph over adversity that shows how tenacity, courage and hard work can make even the most impossible dream come true. That he has done so in the face of so many obstacles is all the more commendable. I am enormously proud of the part The Prince’s Trust has played in helping him achieve his ambition to serve our nation.”
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When receiving the award, Alex spoke on stage about his difficult childhood with undiagnosed Asperger’s and, as he fought back tears, dedicated the accolade to his late grandad.
He said later: “It was a surreal experience, that it’s the King talking about you and your achievements. I was blown away, and feel very humble as I met so many amazing people at the awards.”
After giving Alex a hug for his hard work, Idris Elba, 50, said: “I was really touched by the film showing the work Alex does. I want to be Alex, I just want to be him. He has gone through such adversity to be here.”
The award came as a real surprise for Alex who struggled in childhood before his Asperger's diagnosis. So much so that as a child he had a reputation for being naughty and had to move school four times. He was told he would end up in a young offender institution.
His life changed for the better after getting a diagnosis of Asperger’s aged nine and being taught coping mechanisms.
Having been knocked back from the RAF in 2017 due to his condition, Alex took an employability course with The Prince’s Trust. It helped him rebuild his confidence so he could reapply for the military. Now, he is a logistic supplier for the RAF, saying: “I’ve had so many knock-backs but The Prince’s Trust... helped me turn my life around.”
He put some probing questions to Idris backstage. Alex said: “I did ask him ‘Are you going to play 007?’ He neglected to answer that one.”
Speaking of his award, Alex said: “I wanted to bring a little ray of sunshine. I always said that if I can change one life, then it is worth it.” His mum, 52, a support worker, said: “I can’t believe I’m here with Alex. Not that long ago [he] was written off by four schools... He cried all the way through the ceremony as we listened to all the incredible stories.”
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