Domestic abuse campaigner Rebecca Beattie was left almost speechless when Prince Charles broke the surprise news that she had won a Pride of Britain Award.
The young mum believed she had been invited to Clarence House for a routine celebration with fellow ambassadors of The Prince’s Trust charity.
Instead she was stunned when the Prince interrupted what she thought was a routine interview with TV host Laura Whitmore to say he was “proud” that she had won.
He told a clearly emotional Rebecca: “You’ve actually, can you believe this, won the Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year Award from Pride of Britain.”
Charles added that it was “much deserved, to say the least”.
Rebecca, 32, could only say in shock: “I’m blown away.”
The moment is one of the highlights of the Mirror’s star-studded Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, which will be on Sunday at 9pm, ITV.
Later she recalled: “I was already overwhelmed at being in Clarence House and meeting Laura, who was lovely.
“I was told they had a lot of interviews to get through, so we sat down and Laura began asking me some questions.
“All of a sudden I saw the camera crew gesturing. I looked to my left and Prince Charles had entered the room. He sat down and started talking to me and I didn’t say a great deal, I was in shock. He just started talking and I just kept thinking, ‘I’m sat next to Prince Charles’.”
Laura admitted Rebecca had been told a few fibs, so she still had no idea of the real reason she was there – her Prince’s Trust Young Achiever Award.
Rebecca said: “Prince Charles broke the news. He congratulated me and asked me to look down to my right, where my award was sitting in a box.
“I was absolutely blown away. I’m still in shock. I think I’m dreaming.”
It is the 20th anniversary of the Prince’s Trust Award at Pride of Britain and this year the charity hit the milestone of helping more than a million young people.
Among them is Rebecca, the survivor of a horrific domestic attack that left her with multiple facial fractures and barely able to breathe. She was a college teenager when she got together with her ex-partner more than a decade ago.
Within months she was pregnant but her boyfriend first became jealous and controlling, then violent.
Rebecca, formerly bubbly and outgoing, became isolated from her friends. “I had very low confidence and this was my first serious relationship,” she said. “I had never even heard of domestic violence. I genuinely knew nothing about it.
“I thought he was being overprotective because he loved me but things got progressively worse.
“Looking back, there were lots of red flags but he was manipulative and I didn’t know what to look out for.
“With a dangerous relationship, you’re in this constant state of trying to manage, to not make him mad.”
After five years, she plucked up the courage to leave her abuser.
“There was a really bad weekend when I suffered a lot of physical and emotional abuse,” she said. “I looked in the mirror and I caught a glimpse of myself and I knew things could become quite dangerous.
“I began to realise I had to want a better life for my son, who is the reason for everything I do, and I made the decision to end the relationship.”
But her partner threatened to kill her then returned weeks later and launched a sickening attack.
“He assaulted me to the point of me needing reconstructive surgery,” said Rebecca, who was found lying on her kitchen floor – a trail of blood leading the way for emergency services.
“I suffered a deviated septum, lost the tip of my nose and suffered multiple fractures.”
Her attacker was arrested and jailed in 2012. She attempted to rebuild her life with her son, 11, but struggled to buy even basic items because her ex had left her heavily in debt.
“I had nothing,” said Rebecca, of York. “There was no furniture, I had sheets for curtains and the demands started coming in. The sum owed grew to £20,000, letter after letter threatening court action.
“I’ll be paying for the next 16 years. The economic consequences are with me every day, a cloud hanging over me.”
Rebecca relives her attack every day when she looks in the mirror. “I still have visible deformities on my nose and if there is one selfish thing I could have it would be for my nose to be fixed properly,” she said. “I would probably have to go private but my nose has already received so much trauma it is pretty weak.”
As part of her recovery, Rebecca had a six-week course for survivors of domestic violence. She was determined to turn her negative experiences into a positive to help others – so two years ago she decided to start her own business, an ethical clothing brand called Always B U.
After research online, she turned to the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme – which helps young people turn big business ideas into reality – for help in achieving her goal.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “It helped me to focus my skills and I was given the guidance of a one-to-one mentor. The Prince’s Trust helps me to this day.”
Always B U is dedicated to raising awareness of domestic violence and donates 5% of each sale to IDAS, a Yorkshire-based charity supporting anyone experiencing such abuse.
Rebecca said: “The aim of the brand is to start a conversation on domestic violence. It’s to normalise speaking about that wherever you are.
“Prevention is much better than a cure. In some situations women don’t get out alive.”
Rebecca was subsequently made a Young Ambassador for the Trust.
“I tell my story at events in the hope it will encourage others to get behind the charity’s amazing work supporting young people like me,” she added.
The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, will be broadcast on ITV on November 1 at 9pm.