A Legacy of Good

Memorial Poppy

There are some people in this world who do good not only when they are alive but also after they’ve passed on. I’ll be honest, the morning Princess Diana died I was more concerned about none of my cartoons being on TV rather than the fact that the UK and the world had lost an inspirational woman. And just to clarify, I was seven years old in August 1997. With the twentieth anniversary of her death coming up, Diana’s charity legacy, the aptly named The Diana Award is planning to commemorate not only the princess but also celebrate those following in her footsteps.

Firstly, for those of you who don’t know, let me tell you a little bit about The Diana Award. It’s a charity which recognises young people who are doing good work to improve the lives of others in their community and throughout the world. The awards are handed out to youths who are creating and sustaining a positive change and their mission statement “is to inspire and recognise social action in young people”. The award has been handed out in its tens of thousands, mostly in the UK but also across the globe. Beyond the simple recognition of these amazing young people, however, The Diana Award also offers two important programmes: the anti-bullying campaign and the peer mentoring scheme.

The three short videos on their website perfectly explains the ethos and aims of The Diana Award but for me their titles were enough: ‘Driving Change’, ‘Recognising Change’, ‘Mobilising Change’. As someone who has been personally inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘be the change that you wish to see in the world’, this really resonated with me. Because it is all about change. There are problems within our society which need to be addressed, changed, resolved. And it usually only takes one person to begin down that path for others to follow. Of course, the potential reach of one person’s change is usually limited but together, when we work as a team, we’re unstoppable. And by we, I mean young people. After all, they’re the ones who are going to be stuck with this world long after those who voted for this mess have passed on.

So why Princess Diana? Well, the late Princess of Wales was known for her philanthropic work. She gracefully took to her role as a princess and used the elevated platform she gained through her marriage to turn the public’s eye not onto herself but towards social issues and problems within our society. One of the beliefs she was most vocal about was the fact that it was young people who have the power to change the world. Perhaps if the voting age had been lowered to sixteen in the USA, the political situation there would be rather different right now …

But I digress. What this blog is talking about is the legacy left behind by Princess Diana; an organisation which supports, empowers and recognises young people doing amazing work. Diana herself supported and campaigned for a variety of causes including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, homeless rights, and combatting the HIV/AIDS stigma. And the people her award has been presented to are involved in even greater range of charitable causes all across the globe. The Diana Award seeks to use the legacy left by Diana to encourage the next generation to become the change the late princess believed was possible.

August 31st, 2017, will mark the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s untimely death. For the first time since The Diana Award was founded, her own brother, Charles Spencer, is going to present 80 Diana Awards to young leaders aged between ten and nineteen in London to commemorate her death and celebrate her continued legacy. The awards span the categories of local campaigners, supporting mentors, fundraisers and anti-bullying campaigners. Although The Diana Award is supported by Princes William and Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Charles will be the first direct family member to ever have taken part in an awards ceremony.

The Diana Awards are all about recognising young people who are making a positive difference in their field. It’s a validation, in a way, that their efforts and their work has been noted, appreciated and that it really is making a change. Because these children don’t ask for the awards; they’re nominated. Someone in their school, their friendship group, or someone they are helping through their social action must take the time to tell The Diana Award why they feel the award is deserved.

And I’ll leave you with something I discovered part way through writing this article which pretty perfectly sums up what More Good Deeds is all about. Princess Diana once said this:

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

Go, do, experience. More Good Deeds.