Former drug addict scoops royal award

From left, Elizabeth Galton of Mappin and Webb, Princes Charles, Naomi Johnston and Dame Helen Mirren. Picture: The Prince's Trust
From left, Elizabeth Galton of Mappin and Webb, Princes Charles, Naomi Johnston and Dame Helen Mirren. Picture: The Prince's Trust
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A FORMER homeless drug addict who has worked to turn her life around has scooped a royal award at a star-studded London ceremony.

Naomi Johnston, from Leith, overcame substance abuse and homelessness to become a young ambassador for national charity the Prince’s Trust.

The 27-year-old represented the Capital and won the Mappin & Webb Young Ambassador of the Year Award at the Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success awards hosted by TV stars Ant and Dec in the Leicester Square Odeon.

Among the celebrity guests were Prince’s Trust ambassadors Dame Helen Mirren, Mark Ronson and The Wire star Idris Elba, as well as trust patron Prince Charles.

Dame Helen Mirren said: “All the young people here today are truly inspirational. Their remarkable stories have blown me away. Naomi has overcome a great deal and I feel very privileged to have met her and presented her with this Prince’s Trust award. She has shown that with resilience and hard work you really can reach your potential and be an inspiration to other young people.”

After a difficult start because of family issues, Naomi turned to drugs and her erratic lifestyle led to homelessness.

Destitute and spiralling further into drug misuse, she suffered a series of serious injuries at the hands of a fellow boarder at one of the city’s homeless units.

In an effort to sort her life out, she approached Job Centre Plus in search of employment, eventually being persuaded to apply to the Prince’s Trust Team programme.

Her successful completion of the project resulted in her being appointed as an assistant team leader for the programme before landing her latest role as a young ambassador.

Naomi said: “I use what has happened to me to inform other young people about making the right decisions and about going to seek help.

“I’m really proud of the changes I’ve made in my life and if I can share that and help even one other young person to turn their life around, then I’ll be really pleased about that.”

Since becoming involved with the organisation, Naomi has played a key role in a policy development group for the trust, which sees ambassadors take a role in letting young people’s voices be heard.

Naomi won the Scottish award for Young Ambassador of the Year at the Scotland Celebrate Success ceremony last November.

Justin Stead, CEO of Mappin & Webb, said: “I would like to offer my most heartfelt congratulations to Naomi. She is a fantastic Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust and I wish her every success in the future.”