Prince Harry bonded with a teen on Tuesday over their shared experience of losing their moms.
“He was very understanding and said he could relate to what I was going through as he lost his mum at a very young age too,” Jamie McIntosh, 17, tells PEOPLE.
McIntosh wrote My Mum Monica to help cope with his loss after she died in November 2013, following a 17-year battle with breast cancer. He has since sold 1,000 copies, raising $2,600 for the charity Fight Against Cancer in Edinburgh.
Harry said, “I should be proud of what I’ve achieved,” says McIntosh, “and remember it for the rest of my life and not take anything for granted.”
McIntosh participated in a mentoring program run by the Diana Award at Aberdeen’s Mackie Academy. Tuesday’s visit marked Harry’s first solo engagement with the charity named for his late mother Princess Diana, who died when Harry was 12.
“He was brilliant. He was very understanding of the situation I had and supportive of everything we were doing and hopes that other schools will learn from this and adopt it,” McIntosh adds. “As you can imagine we were all a bit scared, but from the first thing he was very talkative and made everyone feel comfortable, so it wasn’t an awkward situation.”
• Want to keep up with the latest royals coverage? Click here to subscribe to the Royals Newsletter.
In one of the workshops, Harry revealed that his mentor was his Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst Military Academy, where he trained to be an army officer.
“I was at a stage in my life when I was probably lacking a bit in guidance,” Harry told the students. “I lost my mum when I was very young, and suddenly I was surrounded by a huge number of men in the army. He was someone who teased me at the right moments and gave me the confidence to look forward, to actually have that confidence in yourself to know who you are and to push forward and try to help others.”
“Young people shouldn’t think that having a mentor is a negative thing. The prince talking about benefiting from having a mentor is quite significant,” Diana Award chief executive Tessy Ojo tells PEOPLE.
“The prince was amazing. He talked so openly about the need for mentoring and how he has benefited from having a mentor in the military and how he played a significant role in his life in terms of guidance. He said he was a great guide and support.”
Our Favorite Prince Harry Quotes and Throwback Photos!
At one point, Harry took part in a workshop looking at the skills of a mentor. He asked whether having good banter was the same as teasing – which can lead to bullying. “It was good that he picked up on that point,” Ojo adds. “He allowed the young people to explore that point a bit more.”
Diana Award recipient Hollie Smith, 18, told Harry about her volunteer work. She has recently returned from volunteering as a teacher in Malaysia.
“Having his input was brilliant. He said it was inspiring that I gave up so much of my time to help others, and he said it was important to try and encourage other young people to get involved in their communities,” Smith says.