An Alford teenager has won a top title at The Prince’s Trust Scotland Awards.
Talia McKenzie, 16, was named Ascential Educational Achiever of the Year.
She was recently presented with the accolade at a ceremony in Glasgow.
The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx and Homesense Awards recognise the achievements of young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life, and had a positive impact on their local community, as well as those who have played a part in supporting the work of the trust.
Speaking at the awards, Talia said: “It is amazing to be recognised as Prince’s Trust Scotland’s Educational Achiever of the Year. “It makes me realise how far I’ve come and motivates me to keep going.”
Stuart Johnson, Ascential managing director, said: “We’re honoured to present the Educational Achiever Award to Talia this year. She should be proud of her progress and what she has achieved. We wish her every success for the future.”
The teenager struggled to balance caring responsibilities with education, and eventually even just going to school became a daily struggle.
She explained later: “Mum had a serious car accident when I was 12 and I became her main carer.
“I tried balancing caring with my school work but it was tough and I suffered from depression and anxiety.”
When she fell behind with her education, Talia was referred to The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme which builds the skills and confidence of young people struggling at school.
She said: “Initially I wasn’t keen, but I quickly started to really enjoy learning through Achieve.”
Talia astounded everyone by dedicating more than double the time she was expected to give to the programme.
She said: “I set myself the target of getting my Achieve Award within nine months of starting and actually completed it in six months, which was pretty awesome.
“I had a 100% attendance rate, passed all my assessments and felt happier and more confident than I had done in ages.
“Everyone goes through rough patches, and I’ve been through more than most, but The Prince’s Trust helped me come out stronger as a person because of them.”
Talia is planning her future, has a part-time job so she can pay her own way, and is currently doing a level two diploma in hairdressing.
Three in four young people helped by the trust move into work, training or education.