Inspirational young people in Midlothian recognised

Monday December 4th 2023

MYPA winners 2023 group photo

Pictured are all the winners and runners up with the Provost and Lord Lieutenant, Lt Col Richard Callander who presented the prizes of a certificate and a trophy

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The winners have been announced for the Midlothian Young People Awards (MYPA) 2023 at a special ceremony held at Rosslyn Chapel.

These awards are open to young people living, working or studying in Midlothian whose contribution to their local community deserves to be recognised.

There are five categories of awards which are organised by Midlothian Council in conjunction with the Lord-Lieutenant of Midlothian. They are also supported by Midlothian Young Ambassadors who are selected for their commitment and ability as young leaders or volunteers.

– The Caring and Volunteering Award recognises young people who volunteer in caring activities within Midlothian.

– The Sport and Physical Activity Award recognises success and outstanding improvement and achievement in a sport for a particular team of individuals or for one individual.

– The Arts and Culture Award recognises outstanding achievement in performance, visual arts, music, singing, dance, creative arts and media.

– The Achievement in Learning Award recognises young people who are involved in educational activities at school, college, youth work, and training etc, who demonstrate a commitment in developing skills for work and care about the future of young people in Midlothian.

– The Local Community Award recognises the role young people play in their local community which make a real difference locally, to a village, town or local area.

– The Midlothian Award goes to a young person who is chosen from all the nominations and recognises their outstanding contribution to Midlothian as a whole.

Winners were selected by a panel of local young participants of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Midlothian Council Chief, Executive Grace Vickers, welcomed everyone to the event which was hosted by Group Service Manager Annette Lang. Prizes were presented by Midlothian Provost, Cllr Debbi McCall and Midlothian’s Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col Richard Callander.

Each Winner and Runner up received a certificate and a trophy and a charitable donation was also made on their behalf to a charity of their choice. The winners in each of the five categories are :

MYPA Winners 2023

– Caring & Volunteering – Winner: Arran McManus / Runner up: Charlotte Hinton

– Local Community – Winner: Lexie Paterson / Runner up: One Youth

– Sport & Physical Activity – Winner: Penicuik Athletic Youth Football Club under 18 girls team / Runner up: Ewan Miller

– Arts & Culture – Winner: Alexander Thompson / Runner up: The Amazing Brains

– Achievement in Learning – Winner: Keiran Williamson / Runner up: Levi Kilmurry

– Midlothian Award – Samantha Gough

Commenting on the young people’s achievements Midlothian’s Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col Richard Callander said:

“This year’s awards have again highlighted some exceptional young people in Midlothian and given us the chance to recognise their achievements and their contributions to life across the area. I would thank everyone who has nominated a young person this year and, of course, congratulate all the winners and runners up. It is heartening and often humbling, to know that we have such great young people around us and all such worthy winners of Midlothian’s Young People Awards.”

​Midlothian Provost, Cllr Debbi McCall said:

“Congratulations to all the winners at the Midlothian Young People Awards 2023 and a big thank you to everyone who took the time to make a nomination. These awards provide a special opportunity to celebrate our young people’s passion, determination and commitment. All the winners should be very proud of their achievements. They are an asset to their local communities.”

Caring and Volunteering Award

Winner: Arran McManus

Arran’s hard work and generosity has helped so many adults and young children. He is always thinking of how he can help others. Over the last year, Arran who is 13 years old, has been raising money for a number of charities. He started off last year, raising money for a residential camp for seriously ill children, by making and selling soap.

After hearing from an ill friend, that the Western General Hospital needed specialist medical equipment to help cancer patients, he set about raising funds. Buying a plastic green-house, in which he planted hundreds of sunflower seeds, he then sold them to friends and the local community. This combined with more soap selling led to Arran raising over £2000. He was able to donate £1600 to the hospital for the much-needed equipment. He donated the surplus funds to the Outpatients Department at the Sick Children’s Hospital.

Runner up: Charlotte Hinton

Charlotte gives up her free time, energy, sometimes pocket money and possessions to help others. She is a Guide with Loanhead Guide pack and is also a Rainbow and Brownie helper. She is a totally committed Guide and always carries the spirit and ethos of Guiding everywhere she goes. All her challenge badges have been carried out to benefit others, from skipping 100 times a day to raise money for the National Deaf Charity, to learning British Sign Language in order to support young members of Guiding in their journey.

She has completed her Silver Saltire Award through the sheer number of hours she has dedicated as a Rainbow and Brownie helper and as a volunteer in the Sports After School Club at Loanhead Primary. She also makes up activities and attends weekend camps as a helper.

Local Community Award

Winner: Lexie Paterson

Lexie, who is 16 has helped to co-create a Forest and Outdoor Learning award programme for young people at Newbattle Abbey College. The programme was designed to help promote good mental health through nature connection, learning about the natural world, doing conservation tasks and learning woodcraft skills. It kicked off in February 2023 with a group of young people referred via Women’s Aid with Lexie as a volunteer assistant. Lexie supports the young people with all the activities showing them how to use tools and make crafts as well as ensuring everyone has lots of fun.

Lexie has made a huge difference to young people who are suffering trauma and those with additional support and mental health needs. She has since undertaken the Forest and Outdoor Learning assistant leadership training at SCQF level 6.

​Runner up: One Youth

One Youth are young people from the Midlothian Youth Platform who established a small team to create a ‘youth wellbeing space’, funded by the National Lottery as a one-year project. This involved developing an open space for young people from 12 years and older, that is timetabled with a mix of activities, individual support and opportunities to relax. A place where young people can feel safe, have fun and make new friends. This space is called One Youth. Over nine different youth groups every week, as well as ‘open sessions’ that anyone can attend. Many young people attending have said that this space makes a big difference to their lives.

The One Youth project team have dedicated hours of their time every week for over two years to make this happen, equating to them collectively volunteering over a thousand of unpaid hours, to make other people’s lives better. They have been tireless in their commitment to make Dalkeith a better place for young people to live in.

​Sport and Physical Activity Award

Winner: Penicuik Athletic Youth Football Club under 18 girls team

The team fought off tough competition throughout 2022 and ended undefeated earning them the title of league and Scottish Cup Championship winners for 2023. An incredible achievement. Each and every week they model good behaviour, commitment and enthusiasm for their sport. The girls are great role models to younger girls aspiring to play football as many of them also volunteer time to help out with coaching some of the younger teams.

Some of the girls have had some serious personal challenges throughout the year but despite this each of the girls has managed to keep playing by supporting each other and raising awareness of issues affecting their team mates.

The team choose to use their strips to highlight campaigns and causes important to them. They also take opportunities to support local charities and groups, for example recently they raised funds for the local women’s aid group at one of their matches. Their commitment to their support is impressive because they are juggling a lot playing their competitive matches, training and attending school, college or apprenticeships.

Runner up: Ewan Miller

Ewan started coaching with Arniston Football club as a 16 year old volunteer, and now takes his own team. He turns up to take training every Monday and Wednesday before he goes to his own training for Arniston Rangers U20s. He has a great relationship with every player in the squad, across all ability teams.

Ewan is a very polite, hardworking and passionate young man who has developed not only as a coach, but also as a person. He has had to battle with his own anxiety and confidence issues, but in turn this has helped a number of boys with their own confidence issues. Having Ewan as a role model has been a massive boost for them all.

The Arts and Culture Award

Winner: Alexander Thompson

Alex has been a fantastic ambassador for the Arts in St David’s High school and beyond. He is a highly accomplished musician and performs on the piano, drums and xylophone. He receives percussion lessons through the Midlothian Instrumental Music Service in school and plays music above the expected standard for his age.He sat his Grade 5 piano before the summer, achieving a high distinction for his performance.

Alex played piano in the School Young Musician Competition and was chosen to go forward and compete in the local Dalkeith Rotary Club Young Musician Competition. After giving an extremely mature performance he was placed first in this competition and represented Midlothian at the next round, performing alongside pupils from East Lothian and Edinburgh. After another amazing performance, he won this round.

He performs piano with the School Ceilidh Band and percussion in the School Percussion Ensemble.

Runner Up: Amazing Brains

Young people on the Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club meet weekly on Thursday nights in Woodburn. They run their own meetings to decide what they want to put on in their community and what they want to become involved in.

In February 2023, their 3 year funding ended so they decided to use money they had raised over the last three years to fund a whole new direction for the club and become a youth-led Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). A sub-committee was set up to form a three year plan which would be used to direct Art Club activities and pitch to funders. It was informed by a youth survey undertaken by the Art Club.

The club ran workshops in the Summer holidays and worked on the legal structure, created a constitution and called themselves the ‘Trusties in Training’. The Art Club plans to increase the age of the people it works with to 25 and be open to young people across Midlothian. The Trusties in Training attend board meetings and make up at least 50% of the board making sure that the new organisation remains youth-led. They run activities included sewing, spinning, clay work, painting, book binding, digital art, paracord craft and more.

Achievement in Learning Award

Winner: Keiran Williamson

Keiran has been care experienced for over seven years. He has managed to overcome all the difficulties that this situation has created for him and has excelled in his life as a young adult.

His education was extremely important to him, and his goal was to go to university. He overcame all the obstacles he faced and went on to gain 6 Highers and 2 Advance Highers at school and is now attending first year at university. Out of school Keiran has also excelled in swimming, he has become a volunteer swimming coach at his local swimming club, to pay back his community for helping him and has gained an Advance Snowboarding Award, and has now passed his driving test.

Keiran also participated in the local Open Duke of Edinburgh Award Group at Newbattle. He has completed his Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. He was the group leader on the Gold Qualifying Expedition with three other young people, all of whom had additional support needs

Runner up: Levi Kilmurry

Levi volunteers in Lasswade Library twice a week and since December 2022 he has clocked up over 50 hours. His commitment is impressive, turning up every week without fail and is even known to come in during his school holidays! The staff team have been so impressed with Levi’s dedication and positive work ethic.

Levi carries out tasks like clearing up after the Bookbug sessions and taking out the recycling but also shows his creative side when setting up treasure hunts and promotional displays within the library. Levi has been keen to expand his skill set, asking to be more involved in customer service tasks – demonstrating exceptional levels of maturity – older customers are delighted to see a young person productively engaged, and younger people see Levi enjoying his role within the library and are encouraged to drop in to read or to get involved various activities.

Midlothian Prize

Winner: Samantha Gough

Samantha is an Elite blind athlete competing at the highest level. She is the captain of England’s blind women’s football team (Scotland has no team). Her dedication and commitment to be a full-time athlete is proved by her travelling every two weeks for a free football camp to Burton in England as there is no Scottish team.

As a multi-Sport blind athlete, she has competed at elite level both nationally and internationally. Her journey continues to evolve as new opportunities arise, with the most recent opportunity being scouted for Scottish & Great Britain Rowing on their performance talent pathway. Samantha’s Goal is to continue her journey to the Paralympics Paris 2024, and LA 2028.

She is an advocate and ambassador for visual impaired and blind young people spending her time visiting schools and educational settings, raising awareness for adaptive sports within mainstream settings, making sure that young people with disabilities, have the same opportunities in sport as their peers. She felt that she was excluded from PE within school so wants to ensure other young people have better experiences.

Samantha is inspirational, and a worthy winner of this award.

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