When Tayla Green-Aldridge received her invitation to Westminster Abbey she couldn’t believe it. “I am actually going to be part of history. It still feels unreal, like it’s not happening to me,” she says.
Eighteen-year-old Tayla who is a proud Wiradjuri and Yuin woman and graduate of the Prince’s Trust Australia ‘Get Into Maritime’ program will be attending the coronation alongside the charity’s chair, the Hon Julie Bishop and travelling to London with her mother, Juliann.
“This is my first time on a plane and my first time out of Australia. And my mum, who is coming with me, has only been on a plane once to the Gold Coast.” she says smiling.
Alongside invited heads of state, royals and VIPS, King Charles wanted to include young people who had benefitted from his Prince’s Trust charities around the world in his special day and Prince’s Trust Australia chair Julie Bishop is thrilled that both she and Tayla will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness all the pomp, ceremony and emotion of the moment in history in person.
“I am honoured to be invited to the Coronation and delighted that the Prince’s Trust Australia has received such recognition,” Julie tells The Weekly. “It is also fitting that Tayla, an impressive young indigenous woman who has benefited from a Prince’s Trust Australia program, will be included among the guests at Westminster Abbey.”
‘Get into Maritime’ is a unique and ground-breaking program; a hands-on course, held on the lighthouse keeper ship, the MV Cape Don, berthed at Waverton, Sydney. Here young First Nations students receive certification to begin their careers in the maritime industry. Taught by TAFE NSW and organised by the Sea Heritage Foundation, it is the first of its kind and all seven graduates of the first course have gone onto future training or work.
For Tayla the course gave her new direction and purpose. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had been the first female in my family to go to university, but it wasn’t 100 per cent right for me,” she explains. “I was really shy when I started the Maritime course, but I liked how welcoming everyone was, and how they told me I didn’t have to stress – that we were all in this together. I also really liked how practical it all was – like tying knots, that’s one of the essentials in working on a boat, you have to tie off when you moor …it was kind of like a puzzle.”
Prince’s Trust Australia is an innovative national charity that helps young people prepare for the rapidly changing world of work, inspires veterans and their families into entrepreneurship and self-employment, and champions resilient sustainable communities. It was founded by the then Prince of Wales, who is now His Majesty the King. Tayla has not only gained a raft of new skills from the course it has given her confidence. “Prince’s Trust made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to.”
Her family will wave her off at the airport, and she says the most excited is her Pop, Harold Green. “My Pop is the most excited, I think. He keeps telling all our relatives that I’m going to meet the King. He is really proud, and so is all my other family.”
Tayla is being dressed by department store David Jones for the coronation and will be wearing a stunning silk dress by Indigenous designer Ngali featuring artwork by Lindsay Malay from the Warmum Art Centre in the Kimberley, Western Australia.
“I can’t compare going to the Coronation to anything I’ve experienced before. Obviously, I think I’ll be nervous, but it will be an honour to just be there in the presence of something that’s been going on for centuries,” she sighs.
Read more about the work of Prince’s Trust Australia at princes-trust.org.au