The man behind hotel empire Signature Living was named ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the European Diversity Awards for giving jobs to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Lawrence Kenwright, who owns the hotel and property firm, bagged the coveted gong on Friday. 

Signature Living, the company behind a series of prestigious development in Liverpool, Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff, has always strived to provide jobs for the local community. 

Lawrence himself grew up in inner city Liverpool, and he now oversees his company’s employment and training social mobility programme, which has resulted in hundreds of young people securing long-term employment across the cities in which they operate.

Last year, Mr Kenwright took part in National Geographic channel’s ‘Undercover Angel’ TV programme, where he supported a variety of young people’s organisations in Hackney.

He said: “You don’t have to have the best education in the world to make something of yourself.

“There’s a perception that working class people don’t want to work anymore, or that they think they’re too good for certain jobs. Some employers treat people from disadvantaged backgrounds like bombs ready to go off.

“In reality, if you give someone a good job with the prospect of learning new skills, and with opportunities for advancement, you will find that they will work hard and do themselves proud. 

“We don’t want people who sit behind a desk all day, we want motivated people who are mad enough to be brilliant: and believe me, there are loads of them out there.”

Linda Riley, founder of the European Diversity Awards, said: 

“Getting a good job is the best way of pulling yourself out of a bad situation, so it’s great to see Lawrence and his firm offering hundreds of jobs and training opportunities to working class people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”