Mrs Tessy Ojo, a British-Nigerian national, has bagged her biggest fish yet by being awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE), the biggest national honour in the United Kingdom.
The award is in recognition of her immense contributions towards empowering and supporting children and young people in the UK.
Ojo’s bio is heavy duty – a multi-award-winning social change advocate, philanthropist, civil society leader, brand ambassador, wife, mother and Chief Executive Officer of The Diana Award, a charity foundation instituted in honour of the Late Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales. At the heart of her work is the belief that, with the right support and investment, young people are the best instigators for achieving real, sustainable change in their lives and communities.
Her nomination for the award followed the traditional process of selection – nomination to the special selection committee, who in turn recommends who to be honoured with which category of the awards to the Prime Minister and then, finally, to the Queen for ratification.
It was led by young people who are either recipients of the Diana Award or participants of its anti-bullying and mentoring programmes who have experienced Tessy’s dedication and skills and feel passionately that she should be recognised formally.
Callum Fairhurst, a 23-year old recipient of The Diana Award and one of the young people who led on the nomination, met Ojo as a newly bereaved young boy after the death of his brother, Liam. He wrote to the selection committee that Tessy Ojo encouraged him to continue his brother’s legacy.
“Tessy has had a significant impact on so many young people including me. She has always been a driving force in helping me make a difference. Her support and advice enabled me to create a charity for bereaved siblings like myself. Tessy is a role model, mentor and champion for young people globally – it’s about time she is recognised in such a distinguished way too,” he said.
Reacting to the nomination, Ojo remarked, “I am humbled by this honour and it feels momentous because it was driven by young people. It’s an immense privilege to work with children and young people. For the past twenty years at The Diana Award, I have seen time and time again the life-changing impact we can have on young people by investing in them and empowering them to be a voice to create change.”
With this award, Ojo, who is an inspirational speaker and regular consultant and commentator on issues around youth participation, charity growth, diversity, women in leadership and other social issues affecting young people, grows her kitty that already has other eminent awards including The Precious Award, Inspiring Leader 2015, Women in Business Rising Star 2015 (London Region), Excellence Award from Eva Longoria’s Global Gift Foundation and many more.
Ojo, who is expected to be decorated with the award by a senior royal at an event at a later date, has dedicated the award to her family for their encouragement and support.