Queen's Leader Award for alumnus
The Queen has honoured a former pupil of Stonyhurst College in Lancashire with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. Edmund Page was among 58 people from 35 Commonwealth countries who received the award, which was set up in honour of Her Majesty’s service to the Commonwealth by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Edmund was given the award in recognition of the achievements of the Xavier Project, which he established to provide educational opportunities to refugees living in urban areas in Kenya and Uganda. The project acts as mentors to the youngsters, funds their schooling and puts them through courses to teach them new skills at its centres in Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya.
Originally from Cirencester in Gloucestershire, Edmund now lives in Nairobi. He says he was inspired to set up the Xavier Project (named after the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier) when he was a student at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland and undertook volunteering work in Kampala. The charity aims to improve the lives of urban refugees in Kenya and Uganda by enabling them to participate in education. With many children currently out of school in both countries, the charity offers both child sponsorship and adult education opportunities. Xavier Project staff also work with teachers in the schools to help them understand how to deal with the problem of refugees being bullied.
"Tonight shows that you do not have to be anyone in particular to be a leader in your community,” Edmund said after receiving his Award from the Queen. "Picking leaders from all of the Commonwealth governments, that exemplifies inclusivity to all the countries involved. It would be great if more young people all over the Commonwealth applied."
Edmund's commitment to work with some of the world's most vulnerable people began when he spent a year volunteering with Young British Jesuit Alumni in Karnataka in India after leaving Stonyhurst and before going to university in St. Andrews. Even then, he says that the work he enjoyed most was with the Siddi tribes in Jodikata. The Siddis are an ethnic group who are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa. They were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Portuguese merchants.
The Queen's Young Leaders Programme recognises exceptional people aged 18-29, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of the award receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, with which they are expected to continue and develop the work they are already doing in their communities. Of the 58 recipients from Commonwealth countries in 2014, only three were from the United Kingdom. Before receiving their Awards from the Queen, the young leaders visited 10 Downing Street where they met David Cameron, as well as the BBC World Service and the headquarters of Twitter UK.
Also at the presentation was David Beckham, who congratulated the recipients. "I am honoured to be here this evening,” he said. “With people like you I know the world will become a better place ... Good luck in the future. I'm sure you are going to make us all proud."