Faisal & Harrison win awards for beating the odds

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TWO men from the Capital who overcame huge personal torment to get their careers on track have been honoured.

Faisal Ahmed and Harrison Gibson picked up prizes at the Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards last night.

The glittering Assembly Rooms ceremony was hosted by Grant Stott and attended by celebrities including Sanjeev Kohli, wrestler Grado, Blythe Duff and Finn Russell.

Mr Ahmed, 25, won the KPMG Rising Star Award, which recognises young people who, despite having faced substantial personal obstacles, are in full-time employment as a result of a Prince’s Trust programme.

He faced a traumatic childhood, arriving in Scotland at the age of seven from Bangladesh, and speaking no English, which led to years of racist bullying.

At the age of 21, he discovered during a trip to his homeland that his mother was 
actually his stepmother. When he tracked down his birth mother in the Capital, he discovered she was misusing drink and drugs and had mental health problems.

Only two weeks after meeting, she died in a fire cause by a discarded cigarette.

“It was horrific seeing my mum die in such a way,” he said. “To have the chance to honour her memory by helping others is incredible, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the Prince’s Trust.”

Inspired by the nurses who helped his mum, Faisal completed the Get into Health programme, which helps young people gain skills and experience to get a job in the health sector. A hit with the patients, NHS Lothian had no hesitation in offering him a job. He now works at Western General Hospital, with his sights firmly on a career in mental health.

Harrison, 24, scooped the Samsung Young Achiever Award, for people who have struggled through unimaginable difficulties to transform their lives.

His early life was chaotic. An absent father who drank heavily meant his mother was the breadwinner, but when her business began to decline the decision was taken to move from Canada to the Isle of Bute. The transition to island living was hard and after school Harrison became depressed, withdrawn and lacked any aspirations.

Turning to cannabis to numb the pain, Harrison became desperate to get away, learn a trade and so made the brave decision to move to Edinburgh.

He then secured a place on the Prince’s Trust Get into Homebuilding programme, which helps unemployed young people gain the skills they need to work in the construction and homebuilding industry.

Afterwards, he was offered a plumbing apprenticeship with trust programme partner, Miller Homes.

He said: “I broke down in tears when Miller Homes offered me the job as an apprentice plumber.

“I am learning a job that I love and it’s all thanks to the Prince’s Trust. Everyone needs help sometimes, and they were there for me at just the right time.”