Queen Elizabeth Honors Head of Princess Diana Charity for Helping Young People
Tessy Ojo joins TV icon and baker Mary Berry — who has worked with the Duchess of Cambridge — in the annual list
Ojo has been named in the Queen’s latest list of honors as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and she joins celebrity chef Mary Berry, who has been made a Dame in the annual recognition of people who have made valuable contributions to public life.
The awards had been scheduled to be handed out in June but were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The delay has also enabled the awards to include "COVID heroes" who have helped their communities or worked in the health and social services sectors to counter the crisis.
“I am overwhelmed. It feels like a mandate for me to go and do more. This tells me that young people have put their trust in me and I cannot afford to give up," Ojo tells PEOPLE.
“I now look wide and far and look beyond the U.K. I now have a bigger mandate and that’s what the honor feels like for me," she adds.
“I am humbled by this honor and it feels momentous because it was driven by young people," she continues. "It’s an immense privilege to work with children and young people. For the past 20 years at The Diana Award, I have seen time and time again the life-changing impact we can have on young people by investing in them and empowering them to be a voice to create change.”
The Diana Award is the only charity that carries the late princess’s name. Fittingly, young people started the process that led to Ojo's award. She has also served on Prince William’s cyberbullying task force. Callum Fairhurst, 23, was one of those who led the nomination and met Ojo when he was a young boy after his brother, Liam, died.
“Tessy has had a significant impact on so many young people including me. She has always been a driving force in helping me make a difference,” he says in a statement. “Her support and advice enabled me to create a charity for bereaved siblings like myself."
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Also being honored this year by the Queen is Mary Berry, a well-known name in Prince William and Kate Middleton's family. Her name was one of their son Prince Louis's first words! Berry, a judge on the Great British Bake Off until 2016, worked with Kate, 38, on the royal's program to help and inspire young kids and parents to be active and to play outside. She is also a key supporter of Child Bereavement UK, of which William is royal patron.