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HIGHLAND HEROES: Wick teacher remembers 'emotional' award win

By Will Clark

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Chris Aitken won the secondary teacher award at Highland Heroes 2023. Picture: James Mackenzie
Chris Aitken won the secondary teacher award at Highland Heroes 2023. Picture: James Mackenzie

With nominations open for Highland Heroes 2024 we catch up with a deserving winner from earlier this year.

Chris Aitken says he is still humbled by being named secondary teacher of the year at the 2023 Highland Heroes.

The Wick High School computing science teacher received the award for his inspiring work to explore the practical applications of technology in a way that captures youngsters' imagination and makes learning fun.

Aitken (40) and his pupils have regularly helped put the school on the map, having successfully competed in the Apps for Good project over several years, and developing a ‘light bike’ – a bike covered in LED lights to be visible on the road.

Other projects included creating a device for people without access to the internet to hear oral history interviews and reminiscences by building a computer inside an old-fashioned telephone, with the recordings downloaded.

The device, created for heritage group Wick Voices, was so successful it has been on tour to numerous care homes and Mr Aitken has also been approached by Age Scotland so it can be rolled out across the country.

As nominations open for Highland Heroes 2024 he said it was a real privilege to receive the award at Highland Heroes and hear of the other amazing stories that night.

"It was a fantastic and quite emotional night hearing the stories of all the amazing people," he said.

"I was really quite humbled winning to be honest. In my mind I'm just doing my job, providing pupils with opportunities that are fun and engaging and that I find fun too.

"It was very nice to get recognition for that."

Since winning the award Aitken has passed his full licence for amateur radio and is now in the process of setting up a radio club in Wick High School, his licence allowing him to supervise students.

He said: "I have been working this year on setting up and accessing funding for the club.

"We have been very lucky to receive funding from Youth Highland to purchase a transceiver and get my pupils on the air talking to other amateurs across the world.

"The aim is to get as many pupils as possible through their foundation licence.

"This gives them the ability to talk to others on the air and also gives them a wide range of skills such as electronics, radio theory and most importantly the soft skills such as as talking to others.

"I have been working with Noss Primary on their First Lego League and further developing our games design and ethical hacking units in school."

You can nominate your Highland Hero 2024, choosing from across 14 categories, here

The closing date for nominations is December 17.

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