The Queen’s Young Leader Award celebrates exceptional people from across the CommonwealthThe Queen’s Young Leader Award celebrates exceptional people from across the CommonwealthThe Queen’s Young Leader Award celebrates exceptional people from across the Commonwealth

About

Launched in 2014, The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.

When The Queen became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952, she was only 26 years of age. In celebration of Her Majesty's long commitment to and leadership of the Commonwealth, The Queen's Young Leaders programme supports and recognises young people, aged 18-29, who are leading the way transforming their own lives and lives of those around them across the Commonwealth, despite the challenges they may have faced.

The Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations

The Queen

In 2014 The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry launched the search for the first Queen's Young Leaders.

As well as a one-week residential programme in the UK, the first Queen's Young Leaders in 2015 received training through the University of Cambridge, and a mentoring and networking package to further support the incredible work they already do across the Commonwealth.

The Queen's Young Leaders Programme was established by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and is run in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society - visit the QYL website here.

Where are they now? An interview with previous award winners

With new winners across the Commonwealth being chosen each, the reach of the Queen's Young Leaders is ever-growing.
We caught up with some of the previous winners to see what they learned on the programme and how their work is continuing.

Jessica Dewhurst

Jessica Dewhurst
South Africa
QYL 2016

Runs The Edmund Rice Justice Desk (connected to Edmund Rice International) which fights for the realisation of fundamental human rights in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Since winning her award, Jessica addressed the the world and Nobel Peace Prize winners at the Nobel Peace Summit in Bogota, and travelled the world as an ERI UN Ambassador for Justice. She has just started writing her first book.

What's the biggest thing you got from QYL?
The opportunity to meet, network and partner with phenomenal young leaders from across the globe. Up to this day, we run various collaborative projects, learn from one another and continue to make a difference across the globe.  

What inspires you?
The youth of South Africa and our passion for social change. The responsibility to work for change and justice is one that we all hold, not just a few.

The concept of ‘ubuntu’ is roughly translated into 'I am because you are'

The philosophical concept of ‘ubuntu’ highlights hat we are completely dependent on one another. If I fall, we all fall, and if I rise, we all shine.

What's next?
We will be offering our services to even more regions across Africa and establishing offices in East and West Africa, starting with Kenya and Sierra Leone. 

Salman Ahmed

Salman Ahmed
Pakistan
QYL 2015

​Salman's project GADE works in universities across Pakistan to supports entrepreneurship among young people. He's now started a PhD in International Entrepreneurship in the University of Glasgow.

What did you learn from being a QYL?
Queens Young Leaders award was a big turning point in my life. It helped me to expand my network worldwide and realise the importance of international entrepreneurship for developing countries. 

What inspires you?
I am always inspired by young entrepreneurs changing the world. I have firm belief that we cannot change the destiny of a poor community by donation, unless we teach them ways of wealth creation.

What's next?
After finishing my PhD, I'd like to engage Governments to influence policy measures supporting international entrepreneurial activities.

Alicia Wallace

Alicia Wallace
The Bahamas
QYL 2015

Hollaback!Bahamas is also part of a global movement to end street harassment. Alicia's recent initiative #TooSexyToVote challenged officials on their discriminatory practise of turning women away from registering to vote for showing their shoulders or cleavage – thanks to the campaign voting staff were told to register all eligible people regardless of their attire.

What's the biggest thing you've learn from QYL?
Leading Change (run by University of Cambridge) has been a fantastic learning experience which has challenged me to think deeply and differently, introduced me to fantastic tutors and coaches, and connected me with the best mentor I could have asked for.

What inspires you?
I'm inspired by the efforts of young people to create solutions to the world's most challenging issues, and the authority and boldness we assume when stepping forward to act. It assures me that we will leave the world better than we found it.

What's next for you?
I'm exploring graduate schools that would nourish and energise a young, radical activist – and will give me the tools for a career in social justice.

Brad Olsen

Brad Olsen
New Zealand
QYL 2016

After setting up a free youth health clinic with the New Zealand National Youth Advisory Group, Brad has worked with a variety of institutions to ensure young people’s voices are represented. He is the Executive Director of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand and Deputy Chair of the Wellington City Youth Council where he ensures youth ideas are communicated at a local government level.

What did being a Queens Young Leader do for you?
It's given me an incredible range of contacts and leaders in different fields I can go to and ask advice – having such an incredible and diverse range of young experts means you can learn from their mistakes and considerations.

Having such an incredible and diverse range of young experts means you can learn from their mistakes and considerations.

What's next?
I’ve never been one for strict plans, having snared a lot of my opportunities over the years through hard work and solid networking, meaning I’m always on the lookout for new things. I’m keen to delve deeper into economics and how young people can use evidence to create change.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired to create change when I see things I simply don’t think are right. I also seek to be aware of different views on topics, and seeking out a range of views to create a well-rounded base from which to decide.

Dove-Sq

Teocah Arieal Ainka Dove
Trinidad and Tobago
QYL 2015

Dove works in the Tobago House of Assembly offering advise on Youth Development. Since the formal launch of her own foundation, she has trained 24 women for roles in culinary arts, currently mentors 16 young people, supported the launch of two small business and fundraising almost $300,000. 

What inspires you?
The state of affairs in my country and the Caribbean region fuels my passion, especially in the sphere of youth development.

The award gave me visibility and platform.

 

What do you think you got from the programme?
The award gave me visibility and platform – I grew personally and developed those professional skills to make change.

What's next?
This summer I am launching a Website with all the arms of my foundation and work as a consultant. My new project 'Life for Art' begins in September – a project for youth at risk.

Find our more about Queen's Young Leaders here.