A Scarborough woman has walked away with a top award at the Yorkshire and the Humber Prince’s Trust Awards.
Samantha Kirby, 31, from Scarborough, was presented the NatWest Enterprise award at a ceremony at Aspire in Leeds last night.
The award comes as a result of a turnaround in Samantha's, known as Sami, life.
By the age of 13, she started skipping school and running away from home, with her life spiralling out of control beyond that, as she got involved in drugs and alcohol. Her wake-up call came when she received a suspended prison sentence.
“I lived on the streets or in hostels, and grew cannabis to fund my alcohol habit. What makes it worse is that I thought that was all just part of normal life," she said.
"After that [suspended sentence], I got counselling for my depression and joined my local conservation society. I also started growing my own veg and plants, and even won awards for my produce.
"Then I met a Prince's Trust rep at my local JobCentre, and they planted a seed of hope.”
The Prince’s Trust encouraged Sami to attend its Enterprise programme, a four-day course that helps unemployed young people start their own business.
“With the help of The Trust, I managed to write a business plan and secure a £1,300 start-up grant to launch my own gardening and growing business, SK Gardens. I also gained one of my first qualifications – my Level 2 in Exploring Enterprise – then got my chainsaw licence and passed my driving test.
"I'd be lying if said I didn't still doubt myself and my abilities at times, but because of The Prince’s Trust and the support of my grandparents, I am self-sufficient and so much happier. I have around 20 regular customers and am diversifying my business to keep me going through the winter when things get quiet. Life has changed completely since The Prince's Trust – I am so glad they found me.”
Speaking at the awards, Sami said: “The Prince’s Trust played a big part in me getting my business off the ground. To now receive this award from them for its success feels really special.”
Richard Topliss, NatWest’s Regional Managing Director for Commercial and Corporate Banking in the North, said: “For 18 years NatWest has worked in partnership with The Prince’s Trust through its Enterprise programme. Together we celebrate young people’s entrepreneurial spirit and help turn their ideas into a sustainable business or social enterprise.
"We are proud to sponsor the Enterprise Award and recognise those who have overcome significant challenges in their path to success. Sami truly deserves this award and we wish them a very bright future.”