HE’S honed his speech to perfection and now George Hickmott is ready to give it – before a royal audience.
The 17-year-old has overcome a troubled past and was overjoyed to be asked to speak at the Duke of Edinburgh Christmas dinner at Windsor Castle, which Prince Edward will attend.
George recently completed his Duke of Edinburgh bronze award and as part of that he had to give a speech at St James’ Palace.
The speech was such a success, that he was asked back to give it again, but this time at one of the most important dates in the Duke of Edinburgh awards’ diary.
George said: ‘It’s made me a lot more confident doing the Duke of Edinburgh.
‘We had to do a lot of community stuff like volunteering and we went on an expedition in canoes.’
George, from Fareham, said he enjoyed it so much he is now working towards his silver award by volunteering at Releasing Potential – the charity he attributed to helping him get back on track.
He said: ‘I got kicked out of school, Releasing Potential took me in. It’s a unit and they teach the same as schools but better.
‘I liked it as the groups are smaller and it was more hands on – doing outdoor activities and crafts and we got to do things like woodwork in the workshop.
‘There were more teachers there, enough of them to help everybody.’
‘I thought “I cannot go on keeping getting kicked out of school”.
‘My mum’s proud of all my work now. I wanted to prove that I could be better than what I was being like.’
His mum Sheila, 45, said: ‘I was there at St James’ and as soon as he started to speak I started to cry.
‘When you think back at what he has gone through and his bad patch when he was excluded from school, and seeing him do so well. I am so proud.’
George’s dad Andrew died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2009 aged 44.
That hit George hard and, coupled with his autism, he spent a lot of time getting into trouble and was expelled from many schools for bad behaviour.
When he was referred to charity Releasing Potential in Havant, which runs programmes for young people, he began to turn his life around.
He embarked upon the Duke of Edinburgh award and is now studying for a career in the uniformed services at Fareham College.
George will give his speech today.