Inspirational Rotherham teen presented with prestigious Diana Award

Published Friday, 21st June 2019
Inspirational Rotherham teen presented with prestigious Diana Award
Toni Paxford, with the Mayor and Mayoress being presented with the Diana award

A teenager who has dedicated herself to raising awareness of community cohesion and mental health issues has been given an esteemed Diana Award following a surprise visit from some public figures.

For the last four years Toni Paxford, aged 19, has been part of Rotherham Council’s Youth Cabinet and in that time has been part of local, regional and national campaigns, including community cohesion, mental health and awareness raising around invisible illnesses.

She has spoken up on behalf of those who are unable or not confident enough to share their voices has been committed to making sure all young people are heard.

And this week, as part of her Youth Cabinet leaving party, she was presented with the prestigious accolade by Tessy Ojo - CEO of The Diana Award, Zak Patel – CEO of high-end jewellery franchise Pugata and The Mayor and Mayoress of Rotherham.

Tessy Ojo, who presented her with a special award in recognition of her hard work, said: “Toni is a remarkable young woman and has achieved so much. It was a pleasure to present her with The Diana Award which is so well deserved.”

The Diana Award is the most prestigious accolade a young person can receive for their social action or humanitarian work. The youth charity benefits from the support of Diana, Princess of Wales’ sons, The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex.

The charity is a legacy of Princess Diana's belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better.

Retail entrepreneur Zak Patel, who has made a name for himself in the telecommunications industry with his O2 franchise, TalkDirect, added: “I was delighted and privileged to present this prestigious award.

“Toni’s dedication to issues such as community cohesion and mental health is inspiring and admirable. On behalf of everyone at Pugata Jewellery, I congratulate Toni who clearly has great values and is a fantastic role model. We are delighted to support The Diana Award and look forward to meeting many more unsung heroes like Toni who can help make our world a better place.”

Receiving her Diana Award, Toni said: “It’s amazing to get recognised, no matter what the award is but the fact that it’s a Diana Award is such an honour. I think my face said it all when everyone walked in!”

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council added: "This is an amazing accolade for Toni and thoroughly well deserved. She has done so much for Rotherham’s Youth Cabinet in her time here and I know she will be missed.

“The Youth Cabinet is making a positive impact in our borough through their hard work, compassion and dedication. It is important that we recognise them for the work they are doing and the positive impact they have on their peer groups and the community, and an award like this gives such recognition. They set a great example to other young people about what is possible by working hard and achieving success.”

About The Diana Award

The Diana Award develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people through three key programmes which include; a mentoring programme for young people at risk, a youth-led anti-bullying ambassadors campaign and a prestigious award which publicly recognises young people – The Diana Award.