Global campaigners presented with Queen’s Young Leaders awards

22 June 2015

Leonard Cheshire Disability is delighted to announce three of its young campaigners were awarded the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday.

The three campaigners, Ashwini Angadi, Leroy Phillips and Yaaseen Edoo — part of Leonard Cheshire’s global Young Voices movement — received their awards from Her Majesty the Queen at the first ever awards ceremony.

The high profile accolades are part of the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, a unique new initiative run in partnership with Comic Relief, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and the Royal Commonwealth Society. The programme enables young people to step up as leaders and improve the lives of people across the Commonwealth.

Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said:

‘We are incredibly proud of Ashwini, Leroy and Yaaseen. Life is hard for many disabled children round the world. I think it is almost impossible for us to imagine quite how hard it is for a disabled child to fight to get herself to school — let alone to have the determination and resilience then to fight for other disabled children to follow in their footsteps. They are role models. If there were more people like them, the world would be a better place.

‘This prestigious award enables us to celebrate their wonderful achievements. They are an example to leaders all around the world who may be older but not necessarily wiser. We are absolutely delighted that they were given this award and they met our patron, Her Majesty the Queen.’

The search for winners, aged 18–29, was launched by the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in summer 2014. This year 60 students from fifty-three countries across the Commonwealth were presented with awards. The ceremony was followed by a reception and dinner hosted by Prince Andrew at St James’s Palace.


The three winners are:

Ashwini Angadi

Ashwini teaching a blind student to use a computerAshwini grew up in India and is visually impaired.  The 21-year-old faced many challenges finding accessible learning materials at her college. Ashwini campaigned for her college to provide braille and audio books and later formed a disability committee to support others. She now runs the Belaku Academy, offering education for disabled students from rural areas who face exclusion and discrimination.

Ashwini said: ‘I am passionate about disabled children going to school, as an education helps them to get a job and provide an income for both them and their family. It also gives them a foundation to make their own way in life and fight for their rights, empowering them to earn respect from their family and friends.’

Leroy Phillips

Portrait of LeroyLeroy grew up in Guyana and is a campaigner for inclusive education.

Speaking at a recent global education conference he described growing up with a visual impairment. Leroy has actively campaigned for Guyana’s National Disability Act 2010, which will give hundreds of children like him the opportunity to learn and succeed in life.

The 24-year-old said, ‘Acquiring an education wasn’t easy for me as I faced intense discrimination because of my disability. There were no trained teachers or assistive technologies. At times I was ignored in the classroom altogether.’

Yaaseen Edoo

Portrait of Yaaseen receiving an awardYaaseen grew up in Mauritius where he was refused entry to school by the headmaster because of his disability, spina bifida. He had no wheelchair or accessible transport, which left him lonely and isolated. With the support of a primary school teacher he studied for nine months on a voluntary basis, so he could take his certificate of primary education, which he passed with flying colours. He then won a place at a mainstream secondary school, was given a wheelchair, and was picked up daily by an accessible van.

Yaseen said, ‘It was life changing going to school. For the first time in my life I was in a class with other children. It was a great and enriching experience and I made friends and felt like any other student.’

Media enquiries

For Leonard Cheshire Media enquiries and photographs, please contact Selina Mills on 020 3242 0298 or email Out of hours: 07903 949 388. General press office number on: 020 3242 0399.

For Comic Relief/Queen’s Young Leaders Award, please contact Jennie Farrell, senior media officer, Comic Relief at or call 020 7820 2515. Mobile: 07538 521 811.

Notes for editors

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. Follow us on Twitter.

The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme aims to discover, celebrate and support young people from every Commonwealth nation. It does this through an award scheme and giving grants to support organisations in select countries in the Commonwealth that are working with young people to transform their lives. The awards are given to young people who have transformed their own lives and the lives of those around them, despite challenges they may have faced along the way.

For a full list of winners for 2015, visit

For details about programme and the Royal Commonwealth Society, visit