COURAGEOUS teenager Jak Trueman, who selflessly dedicated his last weeks of life to fundraising, has been named winner of the Evening News Local Hero award.
The 15-year-old from Mid Calder, who passed away in February, received the highest honour in an emotional evening which saw the best and the bravest recognised for their outstanding achievements.
Around 300 people gathered in the Assembly Rooms to celebrate our unsung heroes, with winners announced across 13 categories including Inspirational Young Adult, Carer of the Year and the Bravery Award.
Jak’s mother Allison Barr, who collected the award, described it as “the proudest moment as a mother and for us as a family”.
Jak raised more than £50,000 for leukaemia and lymphoma research as he battled a rare form of blood cancer, touching the lives of everyone who learned of his story.
“I didn’t expect this,” she said. “I just thought there were so many deserving winners. We were just honoured he was nominated. Jak went through life as an underdog even though he worked so hard. For him to be recognised now shows how many people’s lives he touched. It shows that he is remembered and, if he is looking down I think he would be amazed.”
Frank O’Donnell, managing editor of the Evening News, who was among the judges, said: “Choosing an overall winner was a very tough decision for the judges.
“There are so many worthy recipients who have made a difference to the lives of people throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians.
“We should feel proud of them all.”
Among them was Chantelle Cummings, of Longstone Park, who won the Child of Achievement Award for her courageous battle against a debilitating condition.
Aged just three she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, which pushes the lower part of her brain towards her spinal chord. But despite her condition the nine-year-old has managed to be a top pupil at Longstone Primary.
Mother Charlene Cummings said she was overwhelmed to see her daughter win: “She has had 24 operations but is always smiling. We know every child is unique but Chantelle is outstandingly brave and we are so proud of her.”
Martin Graham, who was hailed a ‘real-life superhero’ after rescuing two drowning boys on the Hopefield Estate in Bonnyrigg, was declared winner in the bravery category.
The winner in the Contribution to Local Sport Category category was Craig Fraser, known affectionately as Sponge, who has been at Forrester Rugby Club for more than 30 years as a player and a coach. The 40-year-old said it was “recognition for the work that the club does in the community.”
Renowned Professor Mike Dixon, a world-leading expert in treating breast cancer, was crowned Health Champion.
Based at the Western General Hospital, he has worked as a specialist surgeon for more than two decades gives lectures across the globe. He also leads a research team dedicated to understanding why the most common form of breast cancer becomes resistant to drugs, which helps give sufferers the best chance of survival possible. He said he was delighted but his joy was tinged with sadness because his mother, who recently passed away, could not be here to share in the night.
The glitzy event was hosted by actor Scott Hoatson, originally from Portobello, who starred in comedy drama Bluestone 42. Nominees and their friends and family were treated to performances from choir Edinburgh’s Got Soul, Glaswegian stand-up Chris Macarthur-Boyd, and Edinburgh’s School Rock Ensemble, a band made up of students from schools including Leith Academy, Queensferry High and Firrhill High.
CARER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Sharon Duncan is a foster carer who looks after a young person with a life-threatening condition.
RUNNERS-UP: Caroline Martin has cared for her husband for nearly ten years after he suffered a stroke.
Nicola Hogg fosters babies.
Pappender Singh, 36, became his wife’s carer after she suffered from a stroke.
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This award recognises individuals who have proved outstanding achievement in a specific sporting field. Not only does it recognise sporting skill but also recognises drive, ambition, and determination even through the face of adversity The award will be made to an individual who demonstrates exceptional sporting talent and determination. The judges will assess the background history of the person, and the achievement he/she has made within sport and where applicable to personal challenges.
WINNERS: Safezone Volunteers help provide
support, advice and first aid to those vulnerable as a result of alcohol misuse.
RUNNERS-UP: Bryan Finlay is Community
Resuscitation Development Officer for South East Scotland.
David Steel helps Queensferry RNLI.
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WINNER: Martin Graham was hailed a “real-life
superhero” after rescuing two drowning boys.
RUNNERS-UP: Cassie Gunn was born with
neurofibromatosis but still finds the courage to
support friends and family.
Jay Mackay sprinted from his bus to help an old man who had fallen and hit his head.
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WINNERS: David Marshall and Thomas Lynch
created Dads Rock to help give fathers time with their children.
RUNNERS-UP: Lauren Knight set up a city branch of postnatal depression support group PANDAS.
Arthur Mathieson helped set up the Edinburgh North East Foodbank in Leith.
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: David Anderson of West Calder High School
RUNNERS-UP: Juliet McCann is principal teacher in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Jonathan Payne is a biology teacher at West Calder High School and head of the S6 Charity committee.
WINNER: Professor Mike Dixon, of the Western General Hospital, is a world-leading expert in
treating breast cancer.
RUNNERS-UP: Lynn Atkinson, 38, works with brain injury charity Edinburgh Headway Group.
Joe Mountford Smith cares for and supports people with learning disabilities.
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CONTRIBUTION TO LOCAL SPORT
WINNER: Craig Fraser has been at Forrester Rugby Club for more than 30 years as a player and a coach.
RUNNERS-UP: John McCallum recently won a coaching award.
Les Atkinson has been involved in youth football for more than 15 years.
FUNDRAISER OR VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Lynne McNicoll raised hundreds of
thousands of pounds for various charities.
RUNNERS-UP: Dean Reilly devoted his time to
fundraising for the MS Therapy Centre.
Campaigner Gordon Aikman, 30, has motor
neurone disease and has raised more than £250,000 for research.
Jonathon Fotheringham, 16, raised nearly £8000 for the Edinburgh Cancer Centre within the Western General Hospital.
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NEIGHBOUR OF THE YEAR
WINNER: David Taylor risked his life to rescue an elderly neighbour from a house fire.
RUNNERS-UP: Varri Laing helps family, neighbours and friends with housework, shopping and personal problems.
Tracey Byrne is “kind, considerate and supportive” to all her neighbours.
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INSPIRATIONAL YOUNG ADULT
WINNER: Joshua Hardwick, 15, is a board member of Tenants and Residents In Muirhouse and North Edinburgh Young People’s Forum.
RUNNERS-UP: Terri Smith, 20, is MSYP for
Edinburgh Northern and Leith, and is battling a brain tumour .
Jak Trueman, 15, dedicated his last weeks to fundraising for charity as he battled a rare form of blood cancer.
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SCHOOL OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Pilrig Park School.
RUNNERS-UP: Craigroyston High and Liberton High.
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CHILD OF ACHIEVEMENT
WINNER: Chantelle Cummings is a top pupil
despite battling a brain condition.
RUNNERS-UP: Hannah Fee, six, was born eight weeks premature with cerebral palsy but has
battled the condition with courage and good
Rachel Cameron is a member of the East Lothian badminton team and helps out at a disabled
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THE LOCAL HERO AWARD
WINNER: Jak Trueman, 15, of Mid Calder, dedicated his last weeks to fundraising as he battled a rare form of blood cancer. He raised over £50,000 for leukaemia and lymphoma research and kick-started the fundraising for Team Jak.
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