National acclaim for Menston globe-trotters

GLOBE-trotting pupils have won international acclaim for their work with poverty-stricken South African children.

The pupils, from St Mary's Catholic Comprehensive, Menston, were among the first recipients of a new award in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

They were recognised for their work with youngsters in the HIV and Aids-ravaged region of Kwa Zulu Natal, at a high-profile London ceremony by the Diana Award charity which featured pop superstar Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.

Mr Gibb said: "It is humbling to hear the incredible stories of the new Group Award holders.

"They represent a growing community of young people who will act as a force for good to build a society in which we would all like to live.

"These new group holders genuinely want to make a difference and the huge impact of their work challenges existing stereotypes of young people by showing that they have the power to be positive role models."

The new Diana Certificate of Excellence Group Awards recognise groups of young people, aged between 12 and 18, who have worked together to make their communities a better place to be.

Guests heard how pupils from St Mary's School had forged links with Mnyakanya School and made several visits there since 2006, using sport as a catalyst to promote education, health and leadership in one of South Africa's poorest communities.

The partnership had made a significant impact on the lives of young people in both countries, the ceremony was told. Broadcaster Esther Rantzen, who is a Diana Award patron, said: "These young people are an inspiration.

"Every one of them demonstrates the outstanding difference that young people can make to our society. They exemplify the values of the Diana Certificate of Excellence Award, which will stay with them forever."

The awards were presented by Tim Loughton MP, shadow minister for children, and Antony Steen, the Tory MP for Totnes, at Barclay's Commercial Bank, Canary Wharf.

The Diana Award was set up by the Government's Memorial Committee in 1999 as part of the official plans to commemorate the princess and later became an independent charity.