Prince's Trust Awards go to 'inspirational' young people who turned lives around

YOUNG people who have overcome homelessness, addiction and injury to help themselves and others across Scotland were last night rewarded for their achievements.

The Prince's Trust handed out six awards to the "inspirational" winners who the charity hopes will inspire others facing serious difficulties in their lives.

The winners at the Celebrate Success Awards in Edinburgh included Jade Brown, who has led a number of high-profile fundraising efforts after joining an educational programme to improve her schoolwork.

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In 2007 she suffered a serious knee injury in an accident and needed several operations which kept her away from school. The 16-year-old from Greenock was also a young carer, which left her studies suffering.

But after joining the xl programme, which supports young people having difficulties at school, she went on to achieve seven standard grade passes.

Miss Brown - who won the Educational Achiever of the Year Award, sponsored by The Scotsman - took part in the Tall Ships initiative, travelling from Denmark to Norway and taking on responsibility for fundraising for the trip.

She also helps with raising funds and volunteering for community projects.

Miss Brown said she was "delighted" to win the award.

"Becoming involved with The Prince's Trust has been fantastic. I am really excited about my future now," she said.

"xl has really helped me to make the most of my time in school and to start moving in the right direction. I hope that other young people will have the same opportunities I did to get back on track."

Another winner at the Prestonfield House event, hosted by comedian and Prince's Trust ambassador Des Clarke, was Steven Hardie, who won the Young Achiever of the Year award.

The 24-year-old from Arbroath suffered depression from an early age and also used drugs. He suffered mental health issues after a serious unprovoked attack before becoming involved in a Get into Youth Work course.

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He now works at a drop-in centre in Brechin and has become a Young Ambassador for The Prince's Trust.

Mr Hardie said: "Looking at where I was just over a year ago and where I am now is just incredible.

"I was determined to do my best to make a better life and The Prince's Trust has helped make that possible.I now hope I can help others and save them making the same mistakes I did."

Geraldine Gammell, director of The Prince's Trust Scotland, said everyone nominated in the awards had overcome "great adversity" and shown a desire to build a positive future for themselves.

"Our annual Celebrate Success Awards offer just a snapshot of the inspirational young people the Trust works with each and every day," she said.

"I would like to offer my congratulations to the winners, those shortlisted and to all the young people who have had the determination to turn their lives around. They should all be very proud of themselves."

Also awarded at last night's event was Samantha Thomson, who won Young Ambassador of the Year. The 22-year-old from Glasgow was involved in drug abuse - smoking cannabis on a regular basis and lacking a real direction. But after becoming involved in one of the Trust's programmes, she is now a Young Ambassador supporting other young people.

Heather Johnston, 22, from Edinburgh, received the Breakthrough Award, having faced homelessness and exposing herself to a life of drugs and violence. After help from the charity she is now studying at college.

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Steven Loughton, 21, from Edinburgh, received the Flying Start Award after time spent homeless and in prison. He spent two and a half years unemployed and had also been an alcoholic.

But after taking part in the Get into Cooking programme, he now works as a commis chef at Prestonfield.

The Community Impact Award went to seven members of Aberdeen Foyer's Team 28, who redecorated the accommodation for parents visiting their children at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.