DAVID Walliams OBE has joined forces with a charity supported by HRH The Duke of Cambridge to help inspire generations of self-believers.
Mr Walliams has become one of a handful of very select Patrons to help the charity SkillForce realise its vision to deliver its flagship education programme The Prince William Award to 50,000 school pupils across the UK by 2024.
The Prince William Award was launched just two years ago by HRH Prince William himself at a prestigious event in Wales and is now being delivered to almost 13,000 children in schools in England, Scotland and Wales.
The character and resilience award is a year-long programme for children aged 6 to 14, which helps pupils, develop meaningful levels of confidence, resilience and self-belief as well as develop skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, empathy and respect. It is delivered by instructors who are usually Forces Veterans and focuses on children as individuals, helping them to learn to be ‘happy in their own skin’ and accepting of themselves and each other. Children take part for two hours each week, during term time and experience a mixture of practical activities and reflection.
It is the only award of its kind and the only one in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name and the charity says the award gives children and young people a positive foundation for mental health, which supports The Duke’s continuous efforts to address mental health in the UK.
The award’s strapline is ‘Dare to be your best self’ and bosses at the charity felt that Mr Walliams would be the perfect person to help raise the profile of their positive message, particularly as many of the characters David writes about in his award winning children’s fiction embody the values of the charity, which include Courage, Integrity and Self-worth.
Britain’s Got Talent Judge David Walliams said: “I am so pleased to have been asked to become a Patron of The Prince William Award and SkillForce.
“The award gives children and young people a wonderful opportunity to develop their own character and identity, to understand how to keep going when life gets tricky and to learn to be accepting, kind and respectful.
“Children should have the opportunity to develop these traits as early as possible and The Prince William Award gives pupils that chance, with a year-long award scheme that can have lasting impact.
“I absolutely agree that the qualities of confidence, resilience and self-esteem can form part of the foundations for positive mental health and well-being throughout life.
“I am honoured to be able to work alongside HRH The Duke of Cambridge and the charity SkillForce to promote this education award in his name and hope that every child will have this opportunity in time.”
Mr Walliams has already generously supported the charity by hosting a gala dinner in 2017 and more recently, as Master of Ceremonies at a prestigious Prince William Award Graduation Ceremony at the end of 2018.
Ben Slade, SkillForce CEO said: “We were completely bowled over by Mr Walliams’ generosity on the day of our inaugural graduation ceremony. He wowed the children in attendance and spent hours chatting to pupils and taking photos after the main event.
This was such a treat for the children who had worked so hard to complete The Prince William Award.
“We are beyond delighted that David has agreed to become a Patron and help us to grow the reach of our award to many thousands more young people.
“Our mission is to inspire a generation of self-believers who are confident, resilient and prepared for life and this chimes with the positive messages of endeavour, individuality, bravery and kindness that we see so often as themes in David’s much loved books.”
SkillForce was founded in 2004 and uses the skills and experiences of Former Armed Forces personnel or those with a Service-related background to deliver its programmes in schools.
The immersive award programme aims to give children and young people the ability to stand taller, speak louder and feel more self-assured and is a foundation for the development of positive mental health and well-being. The Prince William Award aims to be part of the solution to many of the burdens young people face today, such as knife crime, depression, anxiety, self-harm and even radicalisation. The charity believes that giving young people the chance to develop strength of character will help them to face the inevitable challenges of life.
Ben Slade, who is also a former headteacher, adds: “I believe that children and young people need the time and space to develop the fundamental traits of good character and a strong sense of who they are and what they can achieve in order that they can steer themselves away from negative paths.
“We wholeheartedly believe that The Prince William Award can play a strong part in shaping the choices children make and we are extremely thankful for the support of David Walliams and looking forward to working with him.”
The news of David’s patronage of the charity comes after Games of Thrones star, Bella Ramsey was announced as a Prince William Award ambassador two weeks ago.
Schools wishing to sign up to the award scheme can contact SkillForce www.skillforce.org