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Highland Heroes 2024: Secondary pupil shortlist revealed – VOTE NOW!


By Leah Williamson

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Here is the shortlist for secondary pupil...

Grace McConachie

Grace McConachie
Grace McConachie

Nairn Academy prefect Grace McConachie has been praised for her commitment to supporting younger students and the wider community through her school and extracurricular activities.

The sixth year student has been leading the school’s Equality Forum for two years, she buddies younger pupils, and has run awareness days on issues including trans and LGBT rights. Along with other prefects, she visits local care homes and helps run school events.

Grace also prepared and led training for staff to help them better understand issues affecting LGBT pupils and support them in class, led a primary transition activity on inclusion and equality and regularly volunteers at both school and community events.

Grace, who is autistic, serves on the committee for Lucy’s Lights, a charity group for autistic women which she is passionate about. She has also undertaken work experience at Cawdor ELC nursery and during the holidays worked with children with additional support needs, providing much-needed respite care.

A nomination said: “Grace is a pupil who puts 100 per cent into all she does. Grace is someone who can be relied upon to always represent the school with grace and ease.”

Grace was delighted to be shortlisted for doing something she is so passionate about: “It’s difficult but it’s worth it! You’ve got to be passionate about it. I’m really excited and overwhelmed. I really didn’t expect it. I didn’t know I was nominated.”

Jack Ross

Jack Ross
Jack Ross

If you are looking for the ideal role model for young people, then you couldn’t do much better than Jack Ross (16).

The Tain Royal Academy fifth year pupil has been an inspiration and support to youngsters in his community; from volunteering (at just 11), to being a valued member of Tain YMCA Youth Committee and PA crew and passing a lifeguard course. He is also a corporal in Cadets. Jack has also gained a Dynamic Youth Award and was runner-up in the 2022 Scottish YMCA Awards young achiever of the year category. Over the holidays he also helps prepare free school meals for youngsters.

Impressive achievements for any young person but Jack has had to overcome barriers as he has dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. But he has generously shared his experiences to help other children by visiting his old primary school and talking about his dyslexia.

A nomination said: “Whilst many young men would give up... not Jack. He has turned this into his very own super-power using his dyslexic way of thinking and awesome personality to overcome many barriers. Nothing has stopped this amazing young man and I am so very proud to know him.”

Proud mum Lindsay added: “His teacher at school and staff at Tain YMCA have said he’s such a good role model, sweet-natured and kind. We’re utterly shocked by the nomination but it’s made me so proud. It’s a recognition of all he’s put in.”

Archie Webster

Archie Webster
Archie Webster

Volunteering is a passion for Inverness Royal Academy pupil, Archie Webster.

The fourth year student (14) has been volunteering since he was 13 and devotes his free time to a host of organisations and events including Torvean Parkrun on Saturday mornings, and Torvean Junior Parkrun on Sundays.

Archie has clocked up over 500 volunteer hours and has attained the highest accolade, a Gold award. He is involved in the High Life Highland Leadership programme where he volunteers at holiday camps and after-school clubs and last year, Archie secured a volunteering role at the RVS shop in Raigmore Hospital, where he volunteers two days after school every week. He is also a regular volunteer at major running events in the area including Baxters’ Festival of Running, Inverness Half Marathon and Etape.

A nomination said: “Archie has taken it upon himself to start volunteering in a number of roles since turning 13. He has spent hours after school and all day at the weekend volunteering, even missing his sister’s birthday party.”

Archie first took up volunteering after an injury meant he could not compete in his local Parkrun and he’s been volunteering ever since.

“I started volunteering at Parkrun and from there it’s just grown,” he explained. “You get to meet new people, with similar interests to you and it’s good to give back to the community.”

Archie was shocked he had been nominated for an award for doing something he enjoys: “I was very shocked when I first found out but very happy!”

Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland (DYWICH) is sponsoring the secondary school pupil award.

Sandra McCaughey, interim DYWICH programme manager, said: “Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highlands (DYWICH) is delighted to be supporting Highland Heroes for the second year in a row and sponsoring the secondary school pupil of the year award.

“We work with lots of amazing young people in schools across our region supporting them with career choices and helping to build their skills to enter the future workplace. Last year the nominees for this award and subsequent winner demonstrated exceptional resilience, passion and dedication, contributing both in school and outside in their local communities. This year we encourage as many people as possible to get involved and vote for a young person you know who deserves to be recognised for the great work they do. Let’s celebrate their achievements and shine a spotlight on their success.”

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