Hemel Hempstead teen triumphs over adversity to win top award

Winner Nadine Rowe, right, with sponsor Leigh Smart
Winner Nadine Rowe, right, with sponsor Leigh Smart

A former troubled teenager from Hemel Hempstead has been rewarded for turning her life around and achieving success against the odds.

Nadine Rowe, of Highfield, was crowned winner of the Leigh Smart Educational Achiever of the Year at the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success awards ceremony for the East of England.

Leigh Smart is a patron for the Prince’s Trust – a charity which helps give disadvantaged young people the skills and support to find a job – and his prize honours young people who have taken part in the trust’s Fairbridge or xl programmes, enabling them to get back on track with their education.

Nadine, 17, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won. The xl programme helped me loads. Now I feel more confident and I get on much better at school.”

Mr Smart said: “Nadine has proven she is dedicated to her education and shown a huge improvement in her progress.”

Nadine’s problems began aged 13 when she was the victim of bullying, which led her to develop trust issues.

She became more disruptive and aggressive, and began to suffer from anxiety attacks and eating problems.

By the time she was in Year 10, Nadine has already moved schools twice but her threatening and abusive behaviour towards staff and pupils began affecting her home life.

It was at this point where she joined the xl club at the Dacorum Education Support Centre – known as DESC – in Washington Avenue, Hemel Hempstead.

The club watched as Nadine blossomed and discovered a new-found confidence, throwing herslef into organising activities within the club and acting as a role model for younger pupils. She also began one-to-one sessions with key worker Julie Wilcox, who gave support and a friendly ear.

Nadine went from strength to strength, passed five GCSEs and is now working towards a Level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care at West Herts College in Watford.

Julie said: “I am so proud of her. She’s keeping in touch and letting me know how she’s getting on.”