At The Centre we’re proud to be at the heart of the local community and we believe it’s important for us, now more than ever before, to celebrate the people who make Livingston great.
In 2014 The Centre joined forces with West Lothian Courier to create the Local Hero Award - an accolade which pays tribute to inspirational people from the local community who have helped others or excelled in their field.
Over the last year the award has shone a light on a host of outstanding individuals including volunteers, fundraisers, dancers and coaches, as well as brave young people who have overcome adversity with strength and grace. Every award winner received a special framed certificate as well as a £100 Gift Card to spend in The Centre.
We’re currently looking for your Local Hero nominations for the year ahead - giving you the opportunity to give everyone from young carers and dedicated teachers to community champions the recognition they deserve. If you’re looking for a little inspiration about who to nominate, we’ve put together a round up of all of our fantastic winners from the past year.
The first Young Local Hero Award of 2019 was jointly awarded to two budding adventurers and friends Katie Perin from Livingston and Rowan Erskine from Bathgate, both aged 12.
Katie and Roman attend the 6th Bathgate Guides Unit and were nominated by their Guide Leader, Audrey Gunn, for successfully completing the International Community Service programme, run by Girlguiding Scotland.
The programme consisted of three stages, all of which required the girls to venture away from home in Stirling, Dundee and Oslo, meeting and socialising with Guides from all over Europe.
For each stage of the programme they had to fundraise for the trips - one of their most memorable challenges was a 10km walk from Bathgate to Livingston. They also had to demonstrate their organisational skills with two days of bag packing ahead of each trip.
In Stirling the girls carried out community service work such as planting trees, painting fences, doing litter-picking and working with local charities, while their Oslo visit involved the girls working with Norwegian Scouts to help them tidy up a farm. Throughout the course of the programme they proved themselves to be excellent role models for future Guides, showing exceptional interpersonal skills at a young age.
In February the title of Local Hero went to inspirational young fundraiser Dylan Cathcart, age 12, from Whitburn, who was nominated by his proud Auntie, Nicola Cook.
Since he was five years old Dylan has helped his family raise over £5k for various charities including Marie Curie, at events ranging from sponsored walks to supermarket bag packing.
Receiving the award in recognition of his fundraising efforts was a special moment for both Dylan and Nicola. Dylan said: “I love to get involved - whether it’s baking and selling cakes or sponsored walks. It’s a really nice thing to do with my family especially when it means we’re helping other people too.”
In April 14-year-old Ellie Fergusson waltzed away with the prize after winning the BBC’s Greatest Dancer competition.
Her outstanding performance on the show swept away the judges and won the hearts of not only the management team at The Centre, but people across the county.
Ellie was chosen for the Young Local Hero Award in recognition of her achievement, hard work and dedication and for being a fantastic role model for other youngsters in the community.
Patrick Robbertze, Centre Director at The Centre, Livingston, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ellie and her mum in to the mall to receive her much-deserved Local Hero Award. Hearing about her time on the show and the passion and hard work that went into winning the competition was hugely inspiring.”
The next person to receive the accolade of Local Hero was Polbeth-born Shelley Kerr - former captain of the Scottish women’s national football team and Scotland women’s head coach.
When Shelley received her award last June she was gearing up to take the Scottish team to France for the World Cup for the first time.
Shelley received the Local Hero Award in recognition of an impressive and inspiring football career dating back to the 1980s, when she was a pupil at West Calder High School. During her playing career Shelley won every domestic honour in Scotland and played in the UEFA Women’s Cup.
As a coach, Shelley gained experience at clubs including Kilmarnock, Hibernian and Spartans while progressing through the Scottish Football Association’s Long-term Player Development pathway, eventually taking charge of the Scotland women’s under–19 national team in 2009.
After gaining her UEFA Pro Licence in January 2013, Shelley became the first female manager in British men’s senior football when she was appointed manager of The University of Stirling’s Men’s First Team in August 2014. She then took on the role of Scotland women’s head coach in April 2017 leading the Scottish women’s team to qualification for the World Cup.
Shelley said: “I was absolutely thrilled to receive the Local Hero Award from The Centre. A huge part of my role as Head Coach of the Scottish women’s national team is to try and provide a platform for all girls to get involved in football.
“Physical health and well-being, as well as social benefits, are hugely important through the teenage years and I’m glad that we have developed some role models that the community of West Lothian, and throughout Scotland, can aspire to.”
In September the Local Hero Award allowed us to showcase the story of 9 year old superstar Euan Scott, from Mid Calder.
Euan was nominated by his mum Judith for his incredible efforts collecting football boots for KitAid - a charity which distributes recycled and donated football kits to underprivileged children and adults in Africa.
Euan has always been a big football fan and played as much as he could until he developed a fear of adverse weather conditions when he was six years old, leading him to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and giving up playing football. With the help of his school, Mid Calder Primary, Euan slowly began to play again and he now plays for Mid Calder Colts.
The idea to collect football boots for KitAid came after researching his favourite footballer, Lionel Messi, for a school project on ‘someone who inspired you’. Euan immediately connected with the famous footballer who had difficulties when he was younger as he struggled with a growth deficiency; Euan focused on using the project and Messi’s story to help him get over his own fears.
While working on the project Euan learned that children in third world countries were playing football without boots, which really touched him. This led him to find out more about KitAid, and with the help of his mum, Euan set himself a challenge to collect 100 football boots to send to the charity who would forward them to children in a village in Malawi. So far he has received 120 pairs of boots and over 100 football kits.
In October 2019, The Centre had the honour of highlighting the outstanding bravery of 13-year-old Ellie Beattie from Livingston.
Ellie was nominated for the Local Hero Award by her mum Elaine in recognition of the bravery she has shown following the diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumour called metastatic pineoblastoma and leptomeningeal disease.
Ellie is a big fan of The Centre which she loves to visit with her mum, especially for anything art-related and being an avid reader, books, in particular Harry Potter.
Ellie said: “I was so surprised and delighted my mum nominated me for the Local Hero Award. It was great to be invited along to collect it and the gift card too which I’m very grateful for. I thoroughly enjoyed my shopping spree with my mum buying some new books, DVDs and stationery which I love.”
The Centre’s final Local Hero of 2019 was 19-year-old Mirhan Smith whose outstanding achievements led her to win an ‘Apprentice of the Year’ Award.
Following the completion of her trainee chef apprenticeship at The Larder Cook School, a social enterprise that supports disadvantaged youngsters, Mirhan, who completed her qualifications in record time, won a Skills Development Scotland Apprenticeships Award. Her hard work and dedication was also rewarded as she went on to secure the position of kitchen assistant for a city centre hotel.
If you know someone who is deserving of the Local Hero Award, a special framed certificate and £100 Gift Card to spend at The Centre, please send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your reasons for nominating them, as well as your name and contact details.
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