A BOURNEMOUTH man has overcome a tough start in life to win a prestigious royal award.

Nat Hawley, 21, who has autism and dyslexia, has turned his life around with help from youth charity the Prince’s Trust.

Nat won the Novae Educational Ach-iever Award at the Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards earlier this month.

The award recognises young people who have overcome barriers and developed new skills to improve their future prospects through education.

Nat, who had to live alone because of a difficult home life, came close to leaving school when his mother became ill before his GCSEs, but went on to successfully complete the exams.

A teacher noticed he was struggling and referred him to the Trust’s Fairbridge programme.

The development scheme offers one-to-one support and group activities, and Nat gained accreditations in activities including climbing, yachting, drama and music.

He said: “I was sceptical about the course at first, but it changed me completely.

“I identified with the other members and because of the activities we learnt to trust and support each other.”

Nat also completed programmes in cooking and food hygiene, which helped him to take care of himself and his mum while she recuperated at home after a stay in hospital.

He has now completed his first year at Bournemouth University.

“It’s a huge step and I’m the first person in my family to go,” he said. “I’m proud of myself.”

Nat now lives independently in Bournemouth.

He said: “Winning this award is amazing and I can’t believe it.

“Since the Prince’s Trust course, I’ve made so many new friends. It’s about more than learning skills – it’s made me a better person.”