Jemima received the Inaugural Legacy Award from The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at St James’s Palace in London on 18 May.
In her typically modest way, Jemima aged 16, does not believe she is a worthy recipient of the Diana Award; an Award which is given to exceptional young people who embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service. However, when you read her list of achievements for the benefit of others, you will realise how worthy she is to receive this honour.
A belief that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy sport led Jemima to start her own swimming club at the beginning of 2016. Then aged 15, Jemima was inspired to set up Stingrays at Tadcaster Swimming Pool by her brother Will who has Down’s Syndrome. Jemima’s belief is that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy sport. “My brother is my inspiration,” says Jemima. “He has enriched my life and taught me so much about what it means to be disabled and how we should never put limits on what we think individuals can achieve.”
Stingrays has gone from strength to strength and now has the backing of Invictus Games captain David Wiseman, who himself is a former Tadcaster Grammar School student.
This was just the beginning of Jemima’s mission to make equal opportunities for those with disabilities and already her contribution to her community has been incredible at such a young age of just 16.
At the end of last year Jemima and Will were both recognised at the Adversity Awards hosted by Gambaru Gym, with Jemima taking the award for Young Achiever of the Year.
Through their involvement with Play Unified, Jemima and Will were appointed to be on the Europe Eurasia Inclusive Youth Activation Committee to represent the Special Olympics in Great Britain. Working with three other teams over the next two years they will create, develop and implement youth activation plans in their countries in strong collaboration with their National Programme.
An invitation to give a speech to open the Youth Sport Trust 2017 Conference in Coventry followed, with Jemima addressing 1,000 delegates from the fields of education, sport, leadership, commissioning and the press.
There was further success and more accolades with Jemima attending the Disability Sport Yorkshire Annual Dinner where she was surprised, but delighted, to receive the President’s Award for Service to Sport.
“Lastly, and possibly most excitingly” according to Jemima, she and Will joined a party from Special Olympics Play Unified to speak at the House of Lords in London to promote and celebrate inclusion through sport. They were accompanied by Martyn Sibley, Headteacher at Tadcaster Grammar School, and Will’s Teaching Assistant Deborah Clark.
Because of their achievements in sport, Jemima and Will were chosen to represent the local community and invited to cut the ribbon at the start of the women’s race on Day 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire, which was held recently in Tadcaster.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action.
All the Legacy Award winners – who come from the UK, USA, Canada, India, Belize and UAE – have had a monumental impact on society. Many of them only know Princess Diana as an historical figure, but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.
Legacy Award recipients will have access to a Diana Award programme which will provide them with the opportunity to enhance their skills in four key areas; leadership, community development, social entrepreneurship and technology for good.
The winners were selected from a poll of nominations by an independent judging panel chaired by Dame Julia Cleverdon, Founder of Step Up To Serve. The panel included Julia Samuel, Patron of Child Bereavement UK and friend of Princess Diana and campaigner Baroness Lawrence OBE.
Lord Spencer will also be honouring his sister’s legacy by hosting a special exhibition, ‘Walking in her Shoes’ for The Diana Award at Althorp House this summer. The exhibition, which opens on 21 May 2017, will showcase the work of the 20 Legacy Award winners.
“As a school, we realise that Jemima is a very special young lady,” said headteacher Martyn Sibley. “We are delighted that she is being recognised for all the work she has done. This is an incredibly prestigious award and Jemima is a worthy recipient. She works tirelessly, passionately and completely selflessly to raise the profile of disability sports and to give everyone an equal opportunity,” he added. “It has been a pleasure to have been a small part of Jemima’s journey. She is committed to supporting an inclusive society and we have to remember that she has been able to balance all of this with school work and preparation for GCSE examinations, even sitting an examination in London on the day of the Award ceremony. Jemima is an inspiration to us all. We are extremely proud of all her achievements and congratulate her on receiving The Diana Legacy Award.”
Photo published with kind permission of Carmel King.