A YOUNG fashion designer has been given a national award for being an inspiration to young and disadvantaged people.
Joey Bevan, 28, was given the YMCA Young Inspiration Award for not only his successful career, which has sky-rocketed in the past 12 months, but also using his personal story to inspire others to find their path.
Joey, who grew up in Basildon, but now lives in Leigh, speaks openly about being bullied and trying to commit suicide three times after realising he was gay.
He said: “It started when I was about 13 up until my early twenties.
“I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, but you have to find your calling, be strong and don’t keep it inside. What I was like is the total opposite to what I am now.
“I went from rock bottom hating everything about my life to where I am now.”
Joey was one of 100 people across the country put forward for the award. He never thought he would win and only attended the glitzy ceremony at Church House, in Westminster, thinking he was going to give a motivational speech to the guests.
He added: “I couldn’t believe I was given the award, I cried my eyes out.
“It was a fantastic night – it was a nice end to 2013.”
Joey’s award celebrates making a successful career after an opportunity emerged with the YMCA.
He started his profession as a fashion designer with £10, selling customised second-hand clothes in a pop up shop at Southend’s YMCA.
After an article appeared in the Echo about the start-up business, he was spotted by a fashion show organiser, which then led him to working on the TV show, Britain’s Next Top Model, which airs on Sky channel Living.
Since then, work has snowballed for Joey, who last year made 30 bespoke garments for a four-day coronation festival at Buckingham Palace, where he met the Queen and the Princess Royal, Princess Anne.
Joey now also presents a style show for Gatwick Airport, writes freelance reports for national newspapers and magazines, has styled girl band Stooshe, and travelled around the world. He added: “If it wasn’t for the YMCA I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“Faith and love have been on my side so it’s my turn to give something back. I want to inspire people to overcome something so big and turn their lives around.”