Enhancing Education Award
Akrit Ghimire, 17, Glasgow
Akrit Ghimire has given so much to Rosshall Academy during his five years at the school. Using his main interest in computer science, Arkit developed a web development club to inspire S1-S3 pupils; is a Rosshall digital ambassador, leading its Genius Bar; is supporting staff to redevelop the school website; led the school’s entry to the AppsForGood project by creating apps to support mental health and sustainability; and has won multiple computing competitions. A member of the Pupil Parliament, he consistently helps the school improve environmentally and identifies and suggests curriculum pathways to support students, using initiative to organise extra communication, initiatives and class visits which can enhance students’ education. Even in his own time, Akrit set up an Instagram support page to give simple tutorials on the main areas of higher maths - he is a true supporter of his peers.
Mark Smith, 25, Western Isles
Mark Smith, from Shawbost on the Isle of Lewis, is helping to keep the Gaelic language alive by using modern outlets to reach the younger generation. Through social media, he creates cooking and baking tutorials which are spoken in Gaelic with English subtitles. It all started two years ago when Mark was using Gaelic on his personal account and wanted young people to see it being used daily online. Not a professional chef, Mark’s content is accessible to all, even for those without Gaelic knowledge. He is removing the misconception that young people don’t speak Gaelic and showcasing its use in normal everyday life. He has created a community with thousands of followers who all engage in this form of Gaelic content, furthering its profile and bringing more attention to its value.
Molly Turnbull, 18, Fife
Molly Turnbull, from Cupar, undertook the daunting trek to Everest Base Camp with Kae Tinto. The walk was be 130 km and end 17,598ft above sea level, and required many weeks of intense training. A graduate of The Polar Academy, which offers vulnerable children the chance to take part in an Arctic expedition, Molly is now fundraising for the organisation to continue its work which has so positively impacted her life, hoping to raise £15k. Molly has gained so much confidence, resilience and self-belief through The Polar Academy, and the huge expedition is set to test her even further. She has completed many adventures so far, including a 60 mile row in a Scottish Birlinn viking longboat across the Caledonian Canal, followed by a 40 mile hike and wild camping, all which push and challenge Molly to show her true strength.
Katie Duthie, 18, Perth & Kinross
Katie Duthie has immense talent playing the bagpipes and has achieved outstanding accomplishments. As a member of the Perth and District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band, she has won many competitions and has twice been chosen to be the Lone Piper at two of Scotland’s rugby matches. At only 17 and 18-years-old, Katie stood atop Murrayfield’s rooftop, coping with all of the elements, and played the Scottish national anthem Flower of Scotland followed by Flowers of the Forest, the lament for Remembrance Sunday, to an incredibly large audience of more than 67,000 supporters at the stadium, as well as millions others watching worldwide via streaming. Katie shows impressive professionalism and resolve for being so young, rising to the task at hand despite immense pressure. She is incredibly mature and thoughtful, even composing her own bagpipe musical piece in tribute to a loved one.
Joseph Miranda, 13, Dundee
Joseph Miranda, assisted by his younger brother Theo aged 9, has been using his impressive musical skills to busk for charity over the past year for the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, raising more than £7k. Having busked since he was four, Joseph has raised thousands of pounds for other charities and causes throughout his life, all by playing his violin, saxophone, keyboard and cajon, which he has already earned distinctions for in all of his 20 music exams so far. In January 2022, Joseph and Theo decided to do at least one random act of kindness each week, and in March decided to help further afield following the war in Ukraine. Joseph prepared backing tracks, playlists and posters, organising and taking responsibility for his mission to gather donations for Ukraine during busking in Dundee city centre, ultimately achieving great success.
Overdrive Dance Company, 15-20, Glasgow
Overdrive Dance Company offers a safe space for male-identifying young people to explore their creativity through dance and movement. The group seeks to tackle the stigma of boys taking part in dance and to remove financial barriers for participating in the arts through free access, reimbursement for transport and snacks provided at all sessions. Overdrive works collaboratively and creatively to push boundaries as to what dance is and who can dance. Recent works include a performance about young people’s mental health and a film conceptualised and choreographed by Ross Hoey, one of the Overdrive dancers, which has amassed an audience of thousands. In 2022, Overdrive was selected to represent Scotland at U.Dance, the national youth dance showcase, and received a rapturous response from the audience as the dancers performed Status:Changed which explored what it is like to be a young person living in the world today.
Jamie Gordon, 16, South Lanarkshire
Jamie Gordon set up a car wishing and valeting business, Jambo G Valeting, from his home garage at only 13-years-old. Over the past three years, he has developed his knowledge of the car detailing role and has built up a clientele from the local area and beyond. Jamie is constantly trying to stay ahead of the market by researching the latest products and courses, and has so far self funded two courses to become the youngest person in Scotland to pass the Autosmart machine polishing course and most recently has become accredited for three years of ceramic coatings from Infinity Wax. Jamie has such enthusiasm and motivation for success, saving all his earnings to go towards his first car. Not many 16-year-olds have such drive and determination like Jamie, with his real entrepreneurial spirit leading him into a successful future whatever he chooses.
Robbie MacIsaac, 22, Falkirk
Robbie MacIsaac impressed the line up of tycoons on the BBC show Dragon’s Den with his pitch for investment of his revolutionary piece of kit, the FLUX Blowpipe. Pioneered when he was 14-years-old, the device could prevent respiratory issues for bagpipers. The invention, which can be used universally with any bagpipe, has been engineered to remove moisture from the instrument by combining the use of temperature, pressure difference and a special absorbent, and could also help a condition called Piper’s Lung. Since leaving school, the business has generated more than £85,000, with custom from across the world which Robbie aims to tap into following the recent wave of international orders. His latest invention, the FLUX Bagpipe Humidity Case, stores instruments at a constant humidity to protect, transport and increase the health and enrich the tone of the instrument.
Tania Deora Vas, 24, Edinburgh
Tania Vas conducted insightful research regarding equality and diversity in the field of social work which the University of Edinburgh plans to publish. Following the rise of the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements, given her own personal experiences as a third-culture child, Tania dedicated her Master’s degree to designing and implementing an actively anti-racist diversity training programme that was based on training and practices within the field of social work as part of her dissertation. Her research addresses the lack of active measures to challenge discrimination, lack of safe spaces and inability to recognise subtle discrimination as a form of racism, offering tangible steps for organisations to improve their equality and diversity initiatives. The university was impressed with her ability to seamlessly communicate her thoughts and ideas while promoting the wellbeing of employees and students in tough situations.
Community Award, in partnership with Scottish Children's Lottery
The GOFFs, 15-17, Falkirk
The GOFFs, Group of Falkirk’s Future, are a team of young people from across Falkirk who started volunteering at different youth clubs in their own communities to make a difference. The group identified each person’s strengths and talents and what they as a group would benefit from developing, and realised the benefit of multi-youth group events. They created a successful ten-pin bowling evening with 100 people and a youth festival with more than 130 in attendance, organising a selection of activities including health promotions, arts and crafts, a woodland walk and more. Following its success, the group was asked to run a Halloween event which was widely praised. All of the local groups have expressed how magical it was to have the young people come along and deliver a programme of activities so confidently and with such passion and enjoyment.
Elliot Keys, 22, Glasgow
Elliot Keys started volunteering in the Beatson Cafe in February 2019 at the age of 19, and is now a regular feature having amassed around 500 hours of volunteering - though this doesn’t take into account all of the times Elliot has stepped up to help out even more, especially during the pandemic when Elliot made sure that patients who had to come in for treatment, still got the same level of care and compassion. An exceptional example of a young person, giving back to a cause that impacts the lives of people in Scotland, Elliot is a role model for the younger generation, reimagining volunteering to promote the selfless service. Professional, respectful, compassionate and honest, the team at Beatson cannot praise the work Elliot has done throughout the past four years enough. Elliot has built up a brilliant rapport with customers and very quickly puts people at ease.
Strut Safe, 24 & 28, Edinburgh
Strut Safe is a free, non-judgemental service dedicated to getting women, queer people, people of colour and anyone who needs them home safely, created following the tragic wake of the death of Sarah Everard. The charitable organisation features vetted volunteers who take calls and stay on the line with those feeling vulnerable until they get in their door. The free phone lines are open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the early hours of the morning. Starting initially in Edinburgh, it is now a UK-wide helpline service. In 2022, over 156 nights, Strut Safe volunteers spent 2,680 minutes and 54 seconds on the phone with people as they walked home, allowing vulnerable people to have the confidence to travel alone on foot.
Environment Award, in partnership with SSE Energy Solutions
Harry Leadingham, 17, Dundee
Harry Leadingham has hugely influenced the Grove Academy community. Starting in S1, he was part of a small team who volunteered to help with the Grove Garden app. The idea was to create a way of identifying the wildflowers in community gardens using a QR code to link the plant to an informative database. Harry gave up his time to help in the community gardens, lead the launch and engage with students. He has successfully led funding and award campaigns, including joining the Youth Engagement Committee on Climate Change with the House of Lords in which Grove was one of only seven UK schools selected. The committee was a ground-breaking opportunity for young people to form, collect and share their thoughts on climate change, and Harry led the way at all stages. Not only that, Harry enhances Grove education through organising and leading debates and Model United Nation events.
Finlay Pringle, 15, Highlands
Since the age of 10, Finlay Pringle has been campaigning for the marine environment. Recently, he has been involved in raising awareness of the need for shark conservation and protecting the marine environment, giving talks, attending conferences and pushing to get information on sharks into schools. After speaking at the Children’s Media Conference, Finlay was approached to collaborate with school education company Twinkl on a series of videos and worksheets to increase awareness - the 'Fabulous Like Finlay' campaign. Following his appearance at the Young Activist Summit in Geneva, he was awarded a grant of €4,500 which he used to create an education pack on sharks which will soon be launched in secondary schools across the UK. Finley helped create the Surfers Against Sewage’s Youth Ocean Manifesto, participated in the annual Plastic Free Schools campaigns, and is currently working with a number of NGOs to stop shark finning globally.
Laura Young, 26, Dundee
Laura Young, aka Less Waste Laura, is a passionate environmental activist who, over the past five years, has been on a mission to promote making sustainable changes in everyday life. From her momentous efforts in working to ban disposable vapes, numerous beach litter clean-ups, leading a TED talk and her attendance at COP26 in Glasgow and COP27 in Egypt to name just a few, it is clear that her love for the environment is at the forefront of everything. Recently, Laura was chosen for the Make Space For Nature campaign. Reaching more than 30k people, her content encouraged others to reap the benefits that Scotland has to offer and play their part in helping to look after it. Laura has also worked with many other companies to promote sustainable living, as well as featuring on TV and sitting on a Parliamentary panel regarding banning disposable vapes.
Health & Wellbeing Award
Beth Catchpole, 20, East Lothian
Beth Catchpole undertakes incredible work to support young people to improve their mental health. At only 20 years old, Beth has turned her own hardships and experiences into strengths to support other care-experienced and family substance-use affected young people. Beth is a peer mentor with the Bridges Project, providing one-to-one respite support and first-hand advice on overcoming challenges. Her approach to her work is a major factor in her successful track record of supporting young people to improve their mental health. She often leads conversations with mentees and has a proactive mentoring style which makes them feel comfortable opening up. In addition to her volunteering role, Beth secured a paid inclusion officer post with the charity Who Cares? Scotland when she was only 19, engaging with care-experienced young people. She plans to study psychology to further support others to improve their lives, showing how dedicated she is to the cause.
Sai Shraddha S. Viswanathan, 26, Aberdeen
In November 2022, Aberdeen Students’ Union became aware that funding was being stopped for university and college mental health services. As vice president for welfare, Sai Shraddha S. Viswanathan decided to form the Aberdeen Student Forum to campaign against the loss of the essential services. The group’s letter to Minister Kevin Stewart was escalated to a ministerial level, which led to a response from Jamie Hepburn which unfortunately didn’t promise funding beyond the academic year. Sai subsequently worked with NUS to collaborate on their ‘Save Our Counsellors’ petition, including holding a rally in Castlegate, and lobbied HE institutions to step in. She secured meetings with senior management at the University of Aberdeen, where they confirmed that the university would fund the services, and is seeing more institutions partake in talks for further funding elsewhere. Thanks to Sai’s leadership, she has kept these vital services running.
YoMo - Young Food Ambassadors, 16-18, Glasgow
In August 2022, Tyler, 17, Jacob, 18, and Rhowan, 16, began creating a ‘Food Poverty Awareness Pack’ to help voice what food poverty really is and teach it from a young person’s perspective. The trio worked for months creating the pack, undertaking analytical work to discover how bad the cost of living crisis really is. Finishing in November 2022, they successfully presented the pack to young people and have since gone on to present it across schools and youth organisations in Glasgow. Tyler, Jacob and Rhowan are passionate about volunteering to raise awareness and their work has had an impact already. They have heard many reports of positive feedback, including stories of how people’s physical and mental health has been improved by finding out more about the options available to source food.
Equality & Diversity Award, in partnership with Arnold Clark
Cameron Peter Lyon Coupar, 13, Perth & Kinross
Cameron Peter Lyon Coupar embraces his challenges with dyslexia and having a stammer to help support others. Resilient, he raises awareness for both dyslexia and stammering and to help others who are also neurodivergent through participating in research projects. Recently, Camerom helped co-design a peer support programme resource pack where neurodivergent young people will support others in schools at a student-led weekly club. He has also raised awareness for stammering by making a video for the Scottish Stammering Network and taking part in a filmed poem with other children across the UK. Cameron also uses his creative dyslexic skills to raise awareness, for example, designing a campaign poster for an Equality in Opportunity campaign which highlights the barriers a person with communication difficulties faces when applying for jobs, a 'Love my life, Stammer out Loud' mug, and a winning tee shirt for a Dyslexia Scotland competition.
Medical Herstory, 21-26, Across Scotland
Medical Herstory is a youth-led, not-for-profit organisation on a mission to eliminate sexism, shame and stigma from health experiences. Since being founded in 2019, it has created an online platform that provides information, resources and support to anyone who is seeking to learn more about healthcare and their own bodies, hosted events and workshops that have brought together people from diverse backgrounds to share their experiences and learn from one another, and launched a number of campaigns and initiatives raising awareness of the importance of equality and inclusion in healthcare. Medical Herstory also creates resources and tips for healthcare professionals on how to deliver inclusive healthcare and hosts workshops that have been delivered to more than 800 future healthcare professionals globally. It has created a community that supports the public, patients and healthcare professionals and has helped more than 250 volunteers in gaining professional experience and developing skill.
LGBT Youth Scotland Trans Rights Youth Commission
The Trans Rights Youth Commissions is a group of young people aged 16 to 24 who take action on transgender rights, supported by LGBT Youth Scotland. Recently the group took young people's voices to the highest levels within the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to inform the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Youth commissioners met with the Minister for Social Security and Local Government, sharing their views and experiences; writing their own response to Stage 1 of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill; giving oral evidence within the Scottish Parliament; arranging a round table for the children and young people’s sector to listen to their views; delivering speeches at Gender Recognition Reform rallies and were interviewed by the media; meeting with MSPs directly to discuss their and constituents’ concerns, and developing a workshop to ensure a wider range of young people's views were listened to and shared.
Unsung Hero Award, in partnership with Solace Scotland
Abbie Jarvis, 12, Glasgow
Abbie Jarvis is the face of a campaign which aims to tackle youth violence. Abbie, who has autism, suffered a brutal attack and was beaten unconscious in an awful act of youth violence which was then uploaded online. Spending days in hospital and needing various treatments, Abbie is still facing traumatic effects following the attack which have left her unable to return to school. Despite this, she has bravely waived her right to anonymity to share her story and push for more to be done to address the disturbing culture. ‘Abbie’s petition’ aims to see better bullying interventions put in place in schools, social care facilities and on the streets to prevent violent acts from taking place. The petition has been accepted by the Scottish Parliament for consideration, showing the impact of Abbie’s bravery on the rest of the country.
Mariya Javed, 13, Renfrewshire
Mariya Javed was only seven-years-old when she lost her older brother very suddenly due to a rare, hidden and previously undiagnosed brain condition called AVM. Despite living with this grief, Mariya has decided that she wants her brother's memory to live on and has vowed to do this by helping others. She has set up a tribute fund called Another Star in the Sky, in association with Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity, in the hopes to raise awareness, fund research into the condition and fund bereavement services at RHC. So far, Mariya has helped to raise nearly £20k through participation in various sponsored charity events, collections and six Glasgow Kiltwalks, of which she was named Kiltwalk Hero 2021. She is also a young ambassador for the bereavement charity Miracle Foundation, and various research organisations. Now 13, Mariya continues to work hard simply to benefit others.
Rhianna Mackay, 17, Highlands
Rhianna Mackay lives in an extremely remote part of Scotland where few services are available. Recognising the gulf in support available, since starting at her high school Rhianna has become the core of a self-help network for young people. She has shown incredible initiative and perseverance to identify and engage with services and to initiate in-house training to ensure she and her peers are empowered to mentor and support each other. Recognising the significant stress pupils are under, she created a mental health booklet which gives advice and signposts support, offered drop-in sessions and provided presentations, as well as shaping the direction of the school’s improvement plan to ensure health and wellbeing underpins everything. A STEM ambassador, active member of Young Farmers, key rugby mentor and spokesperson for young people, Rhianna is a hugely caring and proactive person who looks for solutions to benefit all around her.
Sport Award, in partnership with sportscotland
Scott McTominay, 26
Scott McTominay, is a professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester United and the Scotland national team. Born in England, McTominay qualifies to play for Scotland through his father hailing from Helensburgh. He made his senior international debut in March 2018 and represented the national team at the UEFA Euro 2020 where he converted both of his penalties against Israel and helped the team to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 23 years. He then scored his first international goal in October 2021, an injury-time winner against Israel in a 2022 World Cup qualifier, followed by scoring a late brace against Cyprus in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers this year Three days later, he scored to see Scotland win against Spain for the first time since 1984.
Kirsty Muir, 18, Aberdeen
Kirsty Muir represents Scotland and Great Britain in freestyle skiing in disciplines of big air and slopestyle in the Adult World Cup, World Championships, Winter Olympics and Xgames competitions. Whilst Kirsty’s competitors were learning and training in snow parks across the world, Kirsty learned to ski at the dry slope in Aberdeen age three. Kirsty defied all the odds to qualify and compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, aged 17, where she reached finals in both her disciplines and was the youngest member of Team GB - all whilst still at Bucksburn Academy studying for her Highers ready to leave school two months later. In January 2023, Kirsty became the first Scottish skier to win an XGames medal on snow, winning two XGames medals, and during XGames big air became the first British female skier to land a double cork 1620.
Nayma Sheikh, 17, South Lanarkshire
Nayma Sheikh is a Scottish women's cricket player, playing for West of Scotland Cricket Club and East Kilbride, who has won multiple player of the year awards and special recognitions for her talents. Nayma is a genuine all-rounder as a right arm seam bowler and left handed top order batter. Having played since she was 11, Nayma has achieved many accolades. This includes being part of the first ever women's team to represent Scotland at a World Cup and claiming the overall best economy rate and number of dot balls for her bowling, as well as being crowned the second best wicket taker for Scotland, all while being the youngest member in the squad. Nayma and her team are now the winners of the ICC Associate Members Women's Performance of the Year for their performance against Netherlands, where Nayma was also named the highest wicket taker.
Yong-Chin Marika Breslin, 25, Glasgow
Yong-Chin Marika Breslin was recently crowned the winner of BBC Three's popular show Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star. The 25-year-old won with a series of bold, striking designs that impressed professional judges Val Garland of L’Oreal Paris and Dominic Skinner of MAC Cosmetics. Born in Glasgow as the daughter of a Malaysian mother and Scottish father, Yong-Chin struggled to find a make-up look which suited her own ethnic features and didn’t see many Asian models during her youth. Her appearance on the TV show has shown others in Yong-Chin’s position how they don’t have to follow trends and can find a style which suits them, embracing their identity. Her designs throughout the series drew on both her Scottish and south-east Asian heritage for inspiration, with her work eventually leading to her beating the other talented artists to be named the next make-up star.
Kelsie Grieg, 22, Aberdeen
Former footballer in the Scotland Women’s Under 17s, Kelsie Grieg, has made history by becoming the first woman in the world to qualify to play Call of Duty at elite level. The 22-year-old started playing the popular video game six years ago when a serious groin injury meant she had to give up her promising football career. She used the skills she honed on the pitch to see off her Call of Duty rivals in the super-competitive world of esports and is now at the top of her game as one of Europe’s best. Part of team eFuse, Kelsie has a full-time career now in gaming, playing for at least six hours every day and travelling all over the world to take part in global tournaments. She is an inspiration for blazing a trail for female players in the male-dominated world of online gaming.
Meryl Williams, 26, Edinburgh
Edinburgh local, Meryl Williams, took part in the BBC’s recent hit reality series Traitors, winning the show after four weeks of gruelling gameplay. The 26-year-old never entered the show to win money, instead she wanted to see more people like her on TV to defy negative perceptions. Meryl was the first person with dwarfism to win a reality game show and has now quit her job to focus on presenting work and journalism to break boundaries and stigma around disabilities. Despite the discrimination she faces in her everyday life, as well as in the online world from the trolls which followed after the show, Meryl maintains a positive attitude and continues inspiring and empowering others to never stop. She wants to continue educating about her condition and show that disabilities such as achondroplasia don’t stop you from doing anything.
Young Hero, in partnership with XSite Braehead
Nawid is a remarkably brave young man who has travelled across many borders to escape persecution. Unfortunately, Nawid’s family were all captured and returned so he had to make this incredibly terrifying journey on his own. He walked for nearly 2,000 miles over mountains, rough terrain and rivers, travelled through eight countries and across the ocean in a rubber dinghy. Now, Nawid is safe and is settled and thriving in Scotland, passing his exams with exceptional grades and winning a Young Writer of the Year award for his essay about his experience. He has shown incredible bravery and resilience throughout the hardest journey you could make, and still remains modest, hard-working and is a credit to his family who still live in Afghanistan, who he fights hard to make proud.
Shreya Veerappan, 12, Aberdeen
Shreya Veerappan, 12, from Aberdeen, saved her friend, who could not swim, from drowning. Shreya helped drag her friend to safety when she slipped under a float in a swimming pool and experienced breathing difficulties. The schoolgirl received a prestigious life saving commendation for her brave deed.
Leah Woods, 13
Leah Woods has shown great bravery after saving multiple cats from the streets. Since Leah was little, she has dedicated her life to being a hero for neglected animals. She has fulfilled that goal by saving more than 250+ cats from the streets in Scotland, whether they were abandoned, born into kitty mills or simply had no home. After she rescued her first cat from the streets who she went on to keep named Toffee, she was hooked on saving more helpless cats. She has since saved so many more and went on to keep another five who wouldn’t be able to be kept alive without many vet visits and expensive medical bills, which she paid for using all of the generous donations made as well as providing resources for local cat shelters.