Jay Kelly (second-left) stands proud with his award next to Prince Charles | Picture: YouTube (Prince’s Trust)
Jay Kelly was bowled over when Prince Charles handed him his bowl-shaped award.
The heir to the British throne presented the award to the 21-year-old yesterday (14 March) on the neon-splashed stage in Hammersmith Apollo, London.
The nursing student was recognized as Educational Achiever of the Year 2019 at the Prince’s Trust Awards.
He opened up about overcoming his struggle with mental health while transitioning.
Speaking to The Independant, Kelly said stumbling across The Prince’s Trust was the single ‘best thing’ to happen in his life before.
‘If I did it now they would be fine with it’
Kelly, from Portsmouth, said he questioned his gender when he was 14, before coming out as trans just two years later.
He said coming out was ‘terrifying’ and ‘not an easy thing to do.’
‘I remember coming out to my mom in the middle of Morrisons because it was a neutral place. ‘
While his parents and friends were not initially supportive, Kelly is not resentful of what took place.
‘If I did it now they would be fine with it, it was just the age we were at that time.’
The path to Prince’s Trust
The teen’s NHS mental health worker first informed Kelly about The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge program.
It provides free opportunities for 16 to 25-year-olds to learn and cultivate new skills.
‘I was reluctant to go,’ he said, ‘I was not the most social person.
‘I didn’t really leave the house. I’d been in hospital for a month and I’d only been out for a week.
‘But it has really changed my life. I would not be anywhere near who I am and what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for The Prince’s Trust.’
Overcoming the odds
Kelly’s mental health saw his attendance drop and his grades reflecting that, ‘It was heartbreaking,’ he said.
Years on, Kelly overcame the odds. He now studies Mental Health Nursing at the University of West London.
He said: ‘I’m loving it, it is brilliant.
‘It is what I’ve wanted to do for years. I have a long history of mental health issues and I’ve always wanted to go into a career that helps others with their mental health issues.’
At last night’s award ceremony, Kelly stepped onto the stage to accept the award, presented by Katherine Kelly and Michael McIntyre.
Many praised Kelly for his bravery.
‘Congratulations Jay, you are an inspiration and a shining example of the impact of The Prince’s Trust’s work,’ said Duncan Painter, CEO of ceremony sponsor Ascential.