Dennis Canavan Scholarship: Former Braes High pupil takes the 2022 award

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A group of hard-working youngsters who are committed to helping others have been recognised at an annual awards ceremony.

For the last 16 years, the Dennis Canavan Scholarship has been presented to young people living in the Falkirk Council area and who are going on to full-time further or higher education.

The financial award is to help them during these future studies.

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This year’s winner was 18-year-old Louise Robertson of Wallaceston, who received a cheque for £500.

Dennis Canavan announcing the winner of this year's scholarship in his nameDennis Canavan announcing the winner of this year's scholarship in his name
Dennis Canavan announcing the winner of this year's scholarship in his name

The former Braes High pupil is going to study chemistry at the University of Edinburgh next month.

A highly commended awarded of £200 was given to her Braes High classmate, Louisa Richardson, 17, of Brightons, who intends to study law at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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The judges were so impressed by the other nominees that they all received £50. They are St Modan’s High former pupils Robbie Allan, 18, of Dunipace, who will study carpentry and joinery Forth Valley College; Jessica Egdell, 18, of Denny, who will study journalism, media and communication, politics and international relations at the University of Strathclyde; Emma McCafferty, 17, of Banknock, who will study sport and fitness at Glasgow Kelvin College; and former St Mungo’s High pupil Hayden McGuckin, 16, of Grangemouth, who will study sport and fitness at Forth Valley College.

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Dennis Canavan Scholarship winner 2022 Louise Robertson.Dennis Canavan Scholarship winner 2022 Louise Robertson.
Dennis Canavan Scholarship winner 2022 Louise Robertson.

The scholarship fund was set up by Falkirk Council in recognition of the remarkable political contribution by Dennis Canavan to the life of the Falkirk community.

For over three decades, Dennis Canavan represented Falkirk West as an MP and later as its first MSP, until he retired in 2007.

Himself a former teacher, he has always been committed to supporting young people at all levels of education.

Dennis Canavan Scholarship awards: Dennis Canavan, Hayden McGuckin, Emma McCafferty, Louisa Richardson, Louise Robertson, Jessica Egdell and Robbie Allan.Dennis Canavan Scholarship awards: Dennis Canavan, Hayden McGuckin, Emma McCafferty, Louisa Richardson, Louise Robertson, Jessica Egdell and Robbie Allan.
Dennis Canavan Scholarship awards: Dennis Canavan, Hayden McGuckin, Emma McCafferty, Louisa Richardson, Louise Robertson, Jessica Egdell and Robbie Allan.

One of the criteria for the award is that the nominated young person must have given notable service to others, whether it be through voluntary work, charity sponsorship, sports coaching or caring for others.

Speaking at Monday’s award ceremony in Falkirk’s Callendar House, Mr Canavan said: “All of these nominees met the criteria and perhaps most importantly, this include service to others. I have always believed that education is not only for your own enlightenment but services to others. Any one of these young people would have been a worthy winner but after careful consideration, the judges unanimously agreed to award this year’s scholarshi to Louise Robertson.”

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The judging panel who had joined Mr Canavan, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, were Falkirk Provost Robert Bisset, Falkirk Council chief executive Kenneth Lawrie and leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, director of children’s services Robert Naylor and Falkirk Herald editor Jill Buchanan.

Speaking after she had received her award, Louise said she was “very surprised and delighted” to have been selected.

She added: “My guidance teacher said she was putting me forward but I never expected to win.”

Louise, who attended Wallacestone Primary School before heading to Braes High, achieved Highers in maths, English, biology, chemistry and French in fifth year and this year made the grade in Advanced Higher chemistry and maths, as well as Highers in Spanish and physics.

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However, like so many young people of her age this was the first time of traditional exams and she admitted it was “quite a scary time” and trying to keep up with work during lockdown had been tough.

"I was never really sure if I was doing enough work but thankfully we all got through it,” she said.

"I always loved watching science programmes on TV and it quickly became something that I wanted to do. I like problem solving. I’m not sure what I will do after university, perhaps teach, but I just want to learn more about chemistry first.”

Louise gets her break from studying when she spends time with 1st Redding and Westquarter Brownies where she is a young leader.

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She intends to live in university accommodation in Edinburgh but says she will be popping back regularly to see her parents, Suzanne and Scott, and brother Euan, 14.

Nominating Louise, guidance teacher Laura Eckles said: “She has given notable service to others through her voluntary work, work in the community, mentoring and immersing herself in the life of the school.

"She has continually sought opportunities to develop her skills and build her relationships within the science department and is fantastic role model for all future females in STEM.”

She also praised the teenager’s mental health mentoring and her work setting up the school library.

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Louisa Richardson’s guidance teacher also praised her for her mentoring of a younger pupil and her work helping to develop a board game to help young people talk about issues with stigma in society such as sexual harassment.

She added: “She is a very caring young person who has provided invaluable service to the school in her many roles.”

Emma McCafferty’s depute head said she was “a caring and enthusiastic young woman who shines and shows her true confidence and potential when leading younger pupils. She has sought out opportunities to serve both her school and wider community in a proactive manner and has been a wonderful role model.”

Jessica Egdell was described as “an incredibly hard-working and intelligent young lady” who was involved in many of her school’s fundraising appeals including for the foodbank and Ukraine.

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Making an impact on not just the school but the wider community, Robbie Allan was “a kind and compassionate young man”, according to his depute head who added: “He has really been a wonderful role model and a source of inspiration for many.”

Hayden McGuckin was praised for his “outstanding commitment to volunteering", as well as his charity work which saw him cycle the length of Portugal during April to raise money for Bikes for Refugees Scotland.

His nominator said: “Hayden has always put 150 per cent into every task, grafted every challenge and shown complete dedication and focus to his volunteering and charity work.”

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