Falkirk’s local heroes were honoured at a glittering ceremony as emotions ran high on a night of celebration.
A racing driver, cancer survivor, dancer, community activist and emergency service worker were all voted tops in Central FM’s annual Local Hero Awards, sponsored by Diageo, at Airth Castle.
The event is held to recognise the amazing stories of bravery and achievement of people in Forth Valley and it was once again an emotional occasion last Thursday.
Out of the 10 categories, residents from Falkirk district took the honours in five, including the Bravery award for 18-year-old Robert Marshall, from Avonbridge, who is battling secondary lung cancer.
He was nominated by proud mum Carole who has found strength through her son’s will to live and inspirational character to raise money for cancer charities.
She said: “Not once has he complained or asked ‘why me?’. I couldn’t be any prouder of the fantastic, strong man he has become.
‘‘Even though his future is uncertain, he always has a smile on his face. My boy is a hero.”
Rebecca Hutchins (14) won the Child of Achievement award for her feats as a talented dancer.
The teenager suffers from uretheric reflux after being born prematurely. She has two shunts in her bladder and has attended Yorkhill Hospital all her life.
Despite her difficulties she has won 55 titles, including the World Theatre Stage Dance Championship.
Aunt Sharon Tait, who nominated her, said: “I just wanted her to receive the recognition she deserves for all the determination she shows, fighting her battles with illness and never giving up.”
Life-saver Craig Reid (23), a Scottish Ambulance Service co-responder, was named the Emergency Services Employee of the Year.
He has responded to over 700 calls, but uses his own tragic story of his brother dying in a car accident to warn youngsters of road dangers.
Fire and rescue station manager Douglas Dick said: “For the last three years, Craig has taken part in the Safe Drive Stay Alive programme, talking to over 12,000 young people.
“Each time he does he relives the experience of being told that his brother has died. This is an incredibly emotional and difficult thing to do, but Craig wants to prevent other suffering.”
Football-daft Stephen Tait from Denny was voted the man to Make a Difference by the judges. He took over his son Kieran’s football team, Central Rio, five years ago so it wouldn’t fold and has worked tirelessly to build a set-up offering 120 boys and girls the chance to play the beautiful game.
Arlene McMurchie, who nominated him, said: “He deserves the recognition for all his efforts and his commitment to the club and the children of Denny, Dunipace and surrounding areas.”
Sportsperson of the Year was Carol Brown from Shieldhill, one of Scotland’s top female racing drivers.
She was the Scottish Motor Racing Club’s Driver of the Year in 2011, is a two-time Scottish karting champion, Scottish Legends Rookie champ and was third in the British Karting Championship when she was just 12.
Ron McEwan, Central FM station manager, said: “It was a fantastic night for local people in the Forth Valley and supported superbly, as ever, by Diageo and other local companies.”
Other winners on the night were Stirling’s John Lange (Charity and Ultimate Hero), ambulance care assistant Les Haire (NHS Employee of the Year) and equestrian coach Lynne Blore (Teacher of the Year).
Brian Kirkwood from Bo’ness was Parent/Foster Carer of the Year and Pete Conghan from Alloa received the Forces Hero Special Recognition Award.