Sharing the stage with Prince Harry, Richard Branson and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai is quite a daunting feat for anyone – especially for a 17-year-old.
But Cleveleys student Lydia Lake wasn’t fazed when she stood up and spoke in front of thousands of people at the first UK We Day – an educational event and movement of young people leading local and global change.
We Day is part of a family of organisations, including Free The Children and Me to We, with the goal of getting the younger generations to focus less on ‘me’, and think about ‘we’ – putting society and community above themselves as individuals.
Lydia, formerly head girl at Hodgson High School, was one of the speakers at the event, which took place at Wembley Arena, talking about her experiences in India last year with the charity Free The Children, which was sponsored by Virgin Atlantic.
There were also speeches by Prince Harry and Al Gore.
Lydia, currently studying for her A-levels at Blackpool Sixth Form College, said: “It was such an amazing day. The speakers were all fantastic, they were truly inspirational.
“It was a bit nerve-racking, standing up there and talking, but I really enjoyed it.
“I spoke about the three weeks I spent in Rajasthan, in India, with Free The Children. The trip was sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, so I had to fill in an application explaining why I wanted to go, why I felt I should go.
“I told everybody at the event about what an amazing trip it was, and how people should do things like this.
“The trip was a fantastic experience – it gave me chance to really immerse myself in the Indian culture and customs.
“We volunteered at a school, we helped with building a playground, and we helped with a goat-herding ring.
“The work of the charity is about creating sustainable and alternative incomes. It was a bit of a culture shock living there, but really interesting, and gives you a different perspective.
“Obviously, there are areas of poverty around Blackpool and the UK, but it does make you realise you should be grateful for what you have.
“The children were wonderful and it was lovely to see their faces light up when we arrived. Although we couldn’t even speak the same language, we could all join in games and play together.
“I’d recommend a trip like this to anyone.
“And it made me realise how important volunteering is, I’m now volunteering at Brian House Children’s Hospice.
“I’d eventually like to go into medicine, and helping people in countries affected by poverty.”