Published 12 March 2009

It is for them that Centrepoint represents the difference between misery and dejection and a sense of hope and renewed self confidence.

The Duke of Cambridge

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a huge pleasure to welcome you tonight to St. James’s Palace to mark Centrepoint’s 40 years of extraordinary service to young homeless people.

In a way it seems rather odd, us sitting here surrounded by all this finery, when one considers the driving purpose of this great charity. But actually I think, just this once, it is appropriate. For this is a celebration.

I know Michael and Seyi would say homelessness is not something to celebrate but tonight I am going to, because for forty years, thousands of young people have, in their own individual way, had cause to celebrate the fact that Centrepoint exists.

So - apologies - I for one join with them in celebrating the great good that Centrepoint does – and my extreme good fortune in being its Patron.

My brother and I were lucky enough to grow up supported by the love and nurturing of our family. They saw to our education, our health, our well-being, and every other need. So many young people have none of this. It is for them that Centrepoint represents the difference between misery and dejection and a sense of hope and renewed self confidence.

Whenever I have had the privilege of working alongside staff at Centrepoint and meeting its young people, I have come away uplifted by the sense of purpose, the dedication, and just the feeling that one is part of a family. As I have said, that is simply irreplaceable.

I am now going to hand over to Emilyn Hutchinson, who was, herself, until recently a resident of Centrepoint - and who is far better equipped to talk about the amazing work that Centrepoint does for young homeless people than I am. All there is let for me to say now, Centrepoint and Centrepointers – is: Happy 40th Anniversary, and I hope you all have a wonderful evening.