A DEDICATED teenager has been honoured through a scheme which acts as a lasting legacy to Princess Diana’s belief in the power of young people to change the world.
Zoni Asif was nominated by her teachers at Aldworth Science College for the Princess Diana Award because of her volunteering efforts and commitment to helping others. The 15-year-old, who is head girl at the school, in Western Way, Basingstoke, attended a glitzy ceremony in Canary Wharf, London, where she was presented with a certificate and badge by Paralympic volleyball athlete Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in the 2005 London bombings.
Zoni was with her family in Pakistan when it was announced that she had won the award, and only discovered her success when she returned to school for the new term. She said: “I felt a bit overwhelmed.” Zoni said her teachers at Aldworth were her inspiration, adding: “They always encourage me and support me.”
Andrew Reddy, head of student leadership at Aldworth, described Zoni as a “selfless individual,” and said in his nomination: “Zoni is always prepared to go the extra mile to help others around her. She has been a key member in helping organise events around the school.”
Klara Reddy, a history teacher at the school, described Zoni as a “special pupil.” She added: “Her maturity and commitment to her education marked her out clearly above others.”
Zoni, from Pack Lane, Kempshott, Basingstoke, has helped to raise £5,000 for various charities and has also volunteered in the wider community, playing a major role with Basingstoke Youth Peace Forum and helping to run a multi-cultural festival. At school, she has educated others on the Islamic faith to dispel prejudices towards other cultures and helped the school achieve its fairtrade status, which led to her becoming a member of the borough council’s fairtrade group.
The Year 11 pupil, who was shortlisted for a Basingstoke A Place to be Proud of Award, said: “I do these things as hobbies, to have fun. “I want to make the local community better and my real ambition is to make a difference, whether that’s small or big, I want to know I have done my part.”
She collected her award on stage at the ceremony, watched by her parents, and she met various stars including the singer Sinitta. But it was meeting the other award winners that affected Zoni the most. She said: “There were some really inspirational stories. I feel really good to be part of that because I never thought I would win.”