11 year old anti-bullying mentor and campaigner
Charlie Kristensen from Wokingham
has received a prestigious award in memory of Princess Diana
Charlie Kristensen, 11, from Wokingham has been recognised with the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts – The Diana Award. He is honoured with the award for going above and beyond in his daily life to create and sustain positive change.
Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex.
Charlie is a passionate anti-bullying campaigner, and the brains behind the ‘#CheerUpCharlie’ campaign, which he started in 2019. Having been mentally and physically bullied severely for over 18 months, in part due to his love of performing, Charlie couldn’t take any more. When he opened up to his performance coach West End actress Jacqueline Hughes and broke down during one of his singing lessons, she rallied support from the theatre industry via Twitter. Hundreds of performers and creatives from the West End, Broadway and even Hollywood identified with Charlie’s story, and inundated him with video messages of support and solidarity including exciting backstage invitations. This led to national media interviews including live chats on the BBC Breakfast sofa and Michael Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show. Charlie then knew he wanted to channel his own traumatic experiences of being bullied for his love of musical theatre, and use the support he had received, to help him fight for others. He trained as an Ambassador for The Diana Award and started his #CheerUpCharlie work.
Charlie now devotes over one hundred hours each month to help others by mentoring, campaigning, fundraising and raising awareness, on a local, national and international level. His successes have included the release of a charity single performed alongside West End talent, the development of a musical theatre workshop in partnership with Nathaniel Morrison, and a popular weekly YouTube chat show, with guests including Matt Lucas and Gaby Roslin. Charlie works tirelessly and his campaign is making a real impact on the lives of so many other young people.
Alongside the bullying, Charlie has overcome a severe infection, which has left him mainly deaf in his left ear and required 15 operations. He has tackled this challenge with great fortitude and determination.
Charlie Kristensen said: “I never dreamed two years ago, going through what I went through, that I’d now be in the position I’m in. To receive a Diana Award is just a dream come true. I hope I really can become the change maker for my generation that I want to be.”
Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We congratulate all our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and all over the globe who are changemakers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens. For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”
Diana Award recipients have been put forward by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognised their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Charlie was nominated by his publicist, Alison Duguid. Through a rigorous nomination process, these nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas: Vision, Social Impact, Inspiring Others, Youth Leadership, and Service Journey.
There are 12 Diana Award Judging Panels representing each UK region or nation and a further three panels representing countries outside of the UK. Each panel consist of three judges; one young person, an education or youth work professional, and a business or government representative. The panels have an important main purpose: to determine which nominations from each UK region/nation/country will receive The Diana Award. Nominations are judged using the Criteria Guide and Scoring Guide which have been created to measure quality of youth social action.
YouTube @Charlie Kristensen #CheerUpCharlie,