Earl Spencer will hand out the "Diana Awards" to a group of young people next week
The brother of the late Princess Diana is set to hand out special honors to young people in her name – in a first for her immediate family.
Charles Spencer will issue Diana Awards to 80 young leaders ages 10-19 in London on July 4 for their roles in four categories of social action – as local campaigners, fundraisers, supporting mentors and anti-bullying campaigners.
It is the first time that a direct member of her family has taken part in the awards-giving in Britain for the Diana Award charity.
“We are rewarding young people who are helping change their communities,” Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the charity, tells PEOPLE.
With the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death coming in August next year, the charity hopes that this will begin a series of commemorations of the princess – and they hope that her achievements and her trailblazing charity and compassionate work can be celebrated.
Earl Spencer, who spoke with PEOPLE in this week’s issue about renovation plans for Diana’s memorial at his Althorp home, “has told us that when she was younger she was a huge supporter of mentoring young people,” Ojo adds. “He is looking forward to meeting the young people who are mentoring in their schools.”
“There’s that recognition that her legacy is about compassion, service and about young people. He says this is what his sister was all about.”
The charity, which Prince William has been backing via an anti-bullying campaign, sees itself as the steward of the late princess’s legacy – something that will be continue to be brought into focus in the coming year.
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Ojo believes that there is more “clarity” about what Diana achieved and what her sons are now doing, often in her name.
“The princes are outwardly showing their service and how committed they are and how compassionate they are,” she says. “That is clearer and people understand their role and understand that this is what they’re about.”
She adds, “It is 20 years now – and we should be forward looking. It’s time to get away from all the controversy. The princes have been incredibly fantastic ambassadors of her legacy as well. ”
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Spencer has been a supporter of the charity behind-the-scenes for many years, inviting award winners to visit his ancestral home, which is also Diana’s resting place. “He always tells me a story of one or two of the children he’s met,” she adds.
This is the first time he has done something publicly. “For the young people it’s exciting. A lot of them would not know Diana, and the only link to her is by seeing the princes or knowing about them. For them, it is extra special because they can receive the award from a direct family member,” she adds.
Ojo says that like William and Harry, Spencer wants to support the award because he wants to continue the things she would have done. “Just in the past few days, it is scary to see what the future might hold for the country – particular the increased hate crimes. If we can shine a spotlight on the young people changing their communities, if that could help inspire another young person to do something, then that’s a positive. That’s what the legacy is about – encouraging the next person to do something different and be a good citizen.”