Youngsters from Dagenham Youth Zone perform at Royal Albert Hall in front of Prince Harry
PUBLISHED: 12:50 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:02 22 November 2019
Talented youngsters from Barking and Dagenham have performed for thousands at the Royal Albert Hall, wowing Prince Harry.
More than 4,000 people were at the OnSide Youth Zones Awards on November 17 to recognise young people's "exceptional achievements". The prizes aimed to recognise those making a real difference in their communities, breakthrough talent and people overcoming the most challenging circumstances.
The young people were joined by celebrities like John Newman, Little Mix's Jesy Nelson and EastEnders actor Zack Morris.
Three young people who attend Dagenham's Youth Zone (called "Future") performed at the event - getting the chance to meet Price Harry, the Duke of Sussex.
The Duke said: "You guys are the future of this whole country."
He added, addressing the full Royal Albert Hall: "Whether you are an OnSide member, or have helped make OnSide possible, you're helping pave the way for someone else. And this is a chance to celebrate that. A chance for you to see what you have achieved together, the difference you are making, and the role models you have become.
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"Your friends at OnSide have your back.
"They are lifting you up, and reminding you that anything is possible and that you have what it takes to be a game changer.
"Every time I meet someone from OnSide, I meet someone who is ambitious for themselves, but also for their entire generation, hopeful for the future of our planet and committed to supporting others. You have an amazing fire burning inside of you - full of potential, creativity, compassion and authenticity."
The Dagenham youth centre's 17-year-old Tommy Harper performed his song "Brain Freeze", which he wrote at the Youth Zone in memory of his grandmother.
"Performing at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing," Tommy said. "OnSide is about working as a team, supporting each other through anything."
Monique McKenzie, 15, also attends Future Youth Zone. She collaborated with young people from Barnet and Blackburn to sing Billie Eilish's "I don't wanna be you anymore".
Future's Duncan Mensah is 17 and a pianist. He formed a trio with rappers from Birkenhead and Oldham.
He said: "All I wanted to do was come and smash it. Hearing how the crowd reacted, the atmosphere was crazy, so I think we smashed it and accomplished what we came to do."
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