It has been another incredible year for celebrating and applauding the outstanding achievements of Scotland’s young people! From stars of the silver screen to helping those in need, the Young Scot Awards winners have inspired us all.
A special award honouring very special young people who have shown amazing courage or carried out an incredible act of bravery.
Chelsea Cameron, 18, Dundee
The teenager stole the hearts of the nation when she penned a heart-breaking open letter to her drug-addicted parents who weren’t there to celebrate her achievements, like her exam results, but who taught her that drugs wreck lives.
Her blog post, which went viral, explained how she had to cope with their drug abuse and criminality from a young age. But instead of blaming them, she thanked them for providing an example of how not to live.
Chelsea Cameron is not only the winner of the Young Hero category but is also our overall winner of the Sunday Mail Young Scot Awards 2017!!!
Sport sponsored by sportscotland
This award celebrates people who, through their efforts and determination, have achieved the extraordinary in sport. And it’s not just for those who excel in their chosen sport – it could be someone who spends their free time training others in a sport they love.
Last month, the runner was described as “a once-in-a-generation athlete” by UK Athletics performance director Neil Black after she won two golds at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade. Laura triumphed in the 1500m and 3000m races, showing her closest rivals a clean pair of heels and winning fans across the world by insisting on doing a lap of honour, despite protests by organisers.
In the last eight months, the student vet has set five British records and two European records at distances ranging from 1000m to 5000m. In January, she smashed the UK indoor record over 5000m in Glasgow, producing the 10th-fastest outing ever.
With only two other European women having gone quicker, it slashed 15.03 seconds off the then world record set by fellow Scot Liz McColgan-Nuttall in 1992. Only three Britons – Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Zola Budd – have run faster outdoors than the new indoor benchmark.
Celebrating those who are passionate about the arts, whether it’s sculpture, theatre, opera, dance, photography or film. This award honours people who make a difference to their local community by sharing their time or creations.
Laura, 21, & Sarah Ayoub, 24, Milngavie, Glasgow
Classical music sisters Laura and Sarah are on their way to becoming as successful as their pal Nicola Benedetti – after getting a big break from superstar producer Mark Ronson. Violinist Laura and cellist Sarah have been snapped up by Decca Records and are being tipped for the top. They impressed Ronson after they posted a classical version of his hit Uptown Funk on YouTube. The sisters were invited to Abbey Road Studios to collaborate with the world-famous producer on a new cover of the song, which was played at the Brit Awards. The Scots-Egyptian duo, who have performed at festivals and concerts in Europe and the Middle East, shot to No1 in the Classical Chart with their song Melodies from Scotland, which was recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The sisters recently returned to their old school Douglas Academy to perform the song for Burns Night with the school’s orchestra, inspiring the young musicians, as well as the community who came to watch the performance.
Young people across Scotland are involved in supporting and inspiring others to improve their physical and mental health. They might be providing support in their communities, looking to change policy or services, working in healthcare or involved with healthcare charities.
Grace Warnock, 11, Prestonpans, East Lothian
The schoolgirl, who has Crohn’s disease, headed up a campaign to make people more aware of “invisible” disabilities after she experienced negative attitudes when she used disabled toilets.
Grace designed a new sign for public loos that draws attention to the fact that people might not have a visible disability but may still need to use an accessible toilet. Her sign has been championed by her MSP Iain Gray and is now used at a growing number of sites, including the Scottish Parliament, sports centres, Edinburgh airport and Hibs’ Easter Road ground.
Grace continues to work tirelessly on her campaign, which has been taken up by Crohn’s and Colitis UK and has been featured around the world.
Entertainment sponsored by Scottish Citylink
There are so many ways to entertain – through song, dance, comedy and writing, among others. This award is not just for the famous but for the stars in our midst who entertain us every day.
Lewis MacDougall, 14, Edinburgh
The talented young actor is being hailed as Scotland’s next major star after inspirational performances in Hollywood movies Pan and A Monster Calls. Lewis got rave reviews for his leading role in A Monster Calls, in which he appears alongside Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones.
The schoolboy played Connor, a little boy haunted by a monster as he watches his mum succumb to cancer. The part must have been a particular challenge for Lewis, who lost his own mum Fiona to multiple sclerosis just 12 months before filming began.
Lewis’s first acting job was in Pan, playing Peter’s urchin mate Nibs. He hadn’t even considered an acting career before that and was attending a local drama group just for fun. Lewis has also finished filming Boundaries, with Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga, and The Belly of the Whale, with Pat Shortt.
Volunteering Sponsored by Glasgow 2018 European championship
This award celebrates those special people who give up their time and energy free of charge to help other people. This little bit of effort can make a huge difference to many causes.
Care Family Christmas Planners, Glasgow, aged 18-24
Without family to go home to, many young people spend Christmas in homeless accommodation, bed and breakfasts or in their own flat. That’s why Who Cares? Scotland supported this group of volunteers to organise Care Family Christmas.
Having experienced loneliness and poor mental health over the festive season themselves, this group of care-experienced young people came together to ensure no other young person felt alone at Christmas.
Thanks to the work of this group of volunteers, 57 care-leavers from 12 local authority areas across Scotland who would otherwise have been alone last Christmas Day had somewhere to go.
In the planning stages, they got together every week for three months. The group set about finding a venue, fundraising, sourcing food and kitchen equipment, inducting other volunteers, planning Christmas Day transport and most importantly, promoting the dinner to other young people.
Environment Sponsored by Scottish Gas
These young people give their time and effort to help protect the world for future generations. The award covers all types of green issues, from recycling and global sustainability to ecology.
Zeki Basan, 17, Fort William
Zeki, who grew up in a remote house on the edge of the Cairngorms, is an off-grid teenager with a passion and skill for sharing the value of wild places with others.
By the time he left school, he had completed all three levels of the John Muir Award through the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger scheme. He has been delivering bush-craft sessions to other young people ever since.
In 2016, Zeki won a place at the School of Adventure Studies on Skye, where he lived alone in a tipi for nearly a year, leaving only briefly to travel to California to make his first short film, In the Spirit of John Muir.
His next film-making adventure was closer to home. Zeki walked and cycled across central Scotland using the country’s newest long-distance footpath, the John Muir Way. Zeki’s film Wild Along the Way aims to show that we can all enjoy wild places on our doorstep and that wildness can be found all around us.
Community sponsored by The Scottish Government
This award celebrates the work accomplished by a young person who improves the lives of people within a community. They may have demonstrated good citizenship by influencing decision-making at local government level, participating in local action, or anything else that has made a huge difference to others in their community.
Dured Alhalabe, 21, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
From volunteering at a local food bank, helping at the Christmas lights switch-on and making up hampers, Dured can’t do enough for the community who gave him a home. This time last year, the future looked bleak for Dured, who was living in in Jordan after fleeing with his family from the war-torn Syrian city of Homs. But in February 2016, the Alhalabes’ lives changed for the better when they were resettled in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Relocation Scheme.
Grateful to the people who welcomed his family with open arms, Dured has been doing everything he can to give something back to the community. As well as volunteering at local projects, Dured, whose home city has been destroyed in the fighting between President Assad’s forces and revolutionaries, has become a spokesperson for the 70 Syrian refugees resettled in Aberdeenshire.
Dured, who has endured unimaginable suffering, likes to think of himself as a new Scot.
Enterprise Sponsored by Skills Development Scotland
This award is for a future entrepreneur, someone who has demonstrated real flair and has used their passion to help growth and sustainability in their local community.
Erskine Music and Media Studios, Erskine
This is a community interest company run by young people for young people. It was set up by Erskine Youth Council in 2009 after a demand for music rehearsal and tuition was identified in the community.
They offer a weekly band rehearsal for young people, a monthly UPLOAD gig organised by young people for local bands, music tuition for pupils in P7 to S3 and a recording studio for young bands.
On top of that, young people are trained to be studio engineers, music tutors, film-makers, photographers, video editors, lighting and sound technicians and event organisers.
Diversity Sponsored by Standard Life
Scotland has a wide range of cultures that help make it a diverse and exciting place to live. This award recognises young people who raise awareness of culture or speak out against inequalities in their community.
Bernadette Williamson, 21, Montrose
As a young person from the travelling community, Bernadette was bullied at school because of her ethnicity and felt forced to cut short her education. Fuelled by a passion for helping other young people in her community, she joined Article 12 in Scotland, a network who promote youth rights. As a member of the Young Gypsy/Travellers Lives (YGTL) project, Bernadette has spent the past five years raising awareness of the rights of the travelling community.
She has consulted on the Human Rights Act being replaced by a Bill of Rights in London and made a presentation to academics about the rights of young gypsy/traveller women from across Scotland as part of a Children’s Rights seminar. Her presentation has now been made into a learning guide for projects across Europe. Bernadette has also co-delivered workshops across the UK ensuring the voices of young people from her community are being represented at UN level.
It’s impossible to estimate how many young people’s lives have been transformed and enhanced, not only here in Scotland but around the world, by Bernadette’s dedication.
Excellence in Education Sponsored by the University of St Andrews
An award for a young person who has overcome adversity or disadvantage to excel at school, college or university. They may have overcome ill-health, dealt with being in care, coped with being a carer or have shown exceptional dedication and enthusiasm, despite their challenges.
Ranchao Ou, 20
Despite being homeless in a new city with English as his second language, Ranchao’s determination to better himself and his enthusiasm for life meant he threw himself into education.
His passion for entrepreneurship and social consciousness shone through when he became a finalist in the Young Scot Venture Jam project, designing an app to create a rewards system for recycling. After studying English, he went on to sit Highers at college, where he achieved A grades in maths, physics and Chinese studies and a B in chemistry.
Not content with speaking three languages, he is teaching himself Japanese, all the while caring for his mother as a translator and offering huge amounts of emotional support.
Unable to afford to go to university, Ranchao has waited to be classed as a home student in order to be eligible for funding and he now has conditional offers for the universities of Strathclyde, St Andrews and Edinburgh.
Unsung Hero Sponsored by Solace
This award recognises someone who goes the extra mile every day but never asks for any recognition or reward, someone who has overcome difficult circumstances or risen to a challenge and achieved something in the face of adversity.
Lee Welsh, 12, Larbert, Falkirk
Last year, the brave mini-boxing champ battled back from a health diagnosis that would have floored grown fighters.
In January 2016, the schoolboy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – an aggressive form of cancer. He had to start intensive chemotherapy. Lee, who is a member of Jonesy’s Boxing Club in Plean and has just become Intermediate Scottish School Boy Champion, spent weeks in hospital not knowing if the treatment would work.
While he was ill, numerous sports stars, including Billy Joe Saunders, Mark Warburton, Jason Holt and Andy Halliday, got in touch and Carl Frampton dedicated his win against Scott Quigg to Lee. During his time in hospital, he met fellow cancer patients – in particular four-year-old Millie McColl from Airth, whose family are trying to raise £150,000 for treatment in America.
Wanting to help her, Lee auctioned the memorabilia he had been given by his sporting heroes and last June, just three weeks after he was given the all-clear, he completed the Mini Mudder obstacle challenge and raised more than £4000 for Millie. Lee is now back at school and planning his next fundraising enterprise.
Don’t forget you can also watch the stories of our other incredible finalists here