Supporting The Prince’s Trust was one of the most ambitious challenges ever to have been faced by Progress to Excellence – but hard work and determination paid off in grand style.

What began as an idea to fundraise for the charity that helps vulnerable and disadvantaged young people not only resulted in a massive amount of money being raised – plus the award of a special trophy – but also gave the company the royal seal of approval by the Prince of Wales.

After the business pledged its commitment to the trust as a major sponsor for the prestigious Diamond Ball fundraiser, he said: “I am immensely grateful to Progress to Excellence and others who have supported this event for a number of years. Together we can change the lives of so many more young people across the United Kingdom.”

The Progress to Excellence journey for The Prince’s Trust began at the beginning of 2016 when a staff team embarked on the charity’s annual Million Makers challenge. With entrepreneurial ideas and money-making skills, competing against other businesses in the North West, they needed to raise £10,000 in a matter of months.

However, despite their initial business plan having to be revised, the team picked themselves up and began again from scratch with numerous fundraising events during the year contributing to the final figure. These included a Grand National race day, Queen’s 90th birthday street party, barge cruise, slimming club, online competitions, cake sales and auctions. A company incentive scheme to save hotel and travel expenses plus savings from training revenue all added to the total.

The figure they finally reached was £10,196 which, at the North West regional finals, earned them the special Do or Die Award for their unswerving dedication to The Prince’s Trust.

Progress to Excellence’s support for The Prince’s Trust was recognised by an invitation to Sandra Kirkham to join other business leaders and entrepreneurs from the North of England at a private reception and lunch at the House of Lords to celebrate the charity’s achievements during its 40th anniversary year.

After the event, Sandra said: “I was honoured to have been invited to the House of Lords. Working with young people to help them reach their full potential is at the heart of our business and that’s why we are proud to be supporting The Prince’s Trust.”

Commitment to The Prince’s Trust has also seen the company involved in other major events throughout the past year.

At the trust’s North West Celebrate Success Awards 2016 in Liverpool, there were inspirational accounts of how the lives of disadvantaged young people have been changed by the charity. Cath Goodwin presented the Educational Achiever Award, sponsored by Progress to Excellence, to 16-year-old Morgan Gunal who had been excluded from school, diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia then joined The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme where he shone during a community project at a nursing home for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He gained several awards at Achieve, saw his school attendance rise, sat all his GCSEs and is now studying motor mechanics and exploring apprenticeship opportunities.

Last month, Progress to Excellence joined the nation in honouring the achievements of young people across the UK at the finals of the Celebrate Success Awards in London.

Cath Goodwin said: “It was a true honour to represent Progress to Excellence at this flagship event and to hear inspirational stories of those who have had their lives turned around by The Prince’s Trust.

“But more than anything, we are all proud of the hard work that everyone here at Progress to Excellence put in to the amazing job of fundraising for Million Makers. It was a challenge that pushed staff to new limits as it was not just about raising money for a worthy cause but also about testing people’s tenacity to challenge themselves outside their normal working role to expand their knowledge and build new skills.

“It was a fantastic achievement where staff developed their own strengths to reach a particular goal and to realise their responsibility to give time and energy to support an organisation that makes a real difference to the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.”