A Tyneside man has been honoured with a top award from HRH The Prince of Wales for turning his life around.
Tom Rebair, 22, from Newcastle, won the prestigious Mappin & Webb Young Ambassador Award at the glittering ceremony held at The Palladium in London on Tuesday.
The event was hosted by Ant & Dec and attended by celebrities including Cheryl, Olivia Colman, Helen McCrory OBE, Sir Tom Jones, Bryan Cranston, Tom Hardy, Thierry Henry, Olly Murs, Laura Whitmore and Caroline Flack.
The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards recognise disadvantaged young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community, as well as those who have played a part in supporting the work of The Trust.
Tom had a breakdown when he was 14.
He said: “I blamed myself for being bullied at school – so I self-harmed and attempted suicide. I started to develop OCD and later also developed anorexia.
“I ended up in hospital twice; at one point my heartbeat had dropped to 18 beats per minute. My body was shutting down.
“When I left hospital six months later, I struggled. Physically I was well, but I didn’t know how to face life on my own. My occupational therapist encouraged me to join Fairbridge.”
Fairbridge is a Prince’s Trust programme that builds the confidence and self-esteem for young people.
“The Fairbridge team pulled me out of that empty space I was in and made me want to strive for a fulfilling future. This gave me the confidence to start volunteering for a charity. Even when I left, I knew they were only ever a phone call away.
“Life is hard enough, but add stigma into the mix and it can feel unbearable. I became a Young Ambassador because I wanted to spread the word about The Trust’s work and help break down the stigma surrounding eating disorders, particularly in young men like me.”
Bravely stepping out of his comfort zone to share his story, Tom spoke out to audiences of more than 200 Prince’s Trust supporters, helping raise more than £75,000 in the process.
“Being a Young Ambassador has made me who I am today: confident, employed and proud of what I have achieved”.
“If you are struggling in life, get in touch with The Prince’s Trust. You might feel alone, confused, scared and angry, but The Prince’s Trust aren’t going to make it harder for you. They will help you, whatever route you want to take. Be proud of who you are and put your trust in The Prince’s Trust. Just go for it. You won’t regret it.”
Tom now works as a Catering Assistant for Marie Curie.
He hopes to continue to raise awareness of eating disorders within young men and the effect this can have on their mental health by writing and speaking more about his own experiences.
On winning the national Young Ambassador Award, Tom said: “It feels amazing. You hear all these things about how The Prince’s Trust can help people and change lives, but to know that’s happened to me is incredible.
“I now just want to keep helping them both as a Young Ambassador and then hopefully in other capacities for the rest of my life.”