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Young heroes from around the UK celebrated at Red Cross awards ceremony

8 October 2012

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Clare O’Keefe / 01565 682330

Young superheroes from around the UK were celebrated at the British Red Cross’ Humanitarian Citizen Awards 2012 on Saturday 6 October.

Inspiring finalists, all aged 25 and under, gathered at the award ceremony at London’s prestigious Bishopsgate Institute. The award categories – for first aid, community action, volunteering and fundraising – recognise the many different ways in which young people help others.

This year’s overall winner was Erin McNeill, who received the honour for her tireless work to raise awareness of fire safety after suffering horrific burns in a fire.

The 22-year-old from Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, said: "This award means so much to me because it's from the British Red Cross - an organisation which does so much both here and internationally. It's known around the world.

“I always hope for the best, but when I saw everyone at the ceremony and heard their stories, I felt every single person deserved to win. When they called my name, I was so surprised and very happy."

Erin also won the award in the fundraising category for her efforts to raise money for the firefighters who saved her life.

In the community action category, the winner was the Kilgraston Action Group, from Perth. The 13 and 14-year-olds set up the group after learning about International Humanitarian Law and child soldiers in their social studies class. Their year group hosted Red Hand Day in school and delivered an assembly, gathered hand prints, wrote letters to politicians and ran a peer education session.

The first aid category winner was Paul Whitling, from Nottinghamshire, who saved the life of a stranger who had collapsed while out walking.

Paul, 20, was in a car with his parents when he spotted the incident, asked them to pull over and gave first aid until paramedics arrived.

Finally, in the volunteering category, the winner was Amber Lynch, from High Wycombe.

After losing her father when she was 17, she sought support from the Child Bereavement Charity. She went on to become their first youth ambassador, and attends local and national events, talking at schools, colleges and to professionals about her own personal experience.

Gary Mountain, British Red Cross Accreditation and Recognition Co-ordinator for Young People, said: “There was a fantastic selection of entries this year – all of them young people who have really made a difference in others’ lives.

“The judges had a tough task narrowing down the nominations, and everyone whose name was put forward should be proud of their efforts.

“All those who attended this year’s award ceremony were touched in some way by these inspiring young heroes. It shows how young people can truly make a difference, and have a huge impact in their own communities and beyond.”

The Humanitarian Citizen Award is an award by young people, for young people. It is open to anyone aged 25 or under, who has made a positive impact on an individual or community. The four award categories are judged by a panel of under 25s, who picked five superheros: the winners of the four categories and the overall winner for 2012.

This year, there were 106 entries from around the country, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 34. The award is kindly sponsored by Canon, which has supported the award since it began in 2005.