DCSIMG

Teen Heather handed compassion award by Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama presents the Compassion Award to Heather Mann

The Dalai Lama presents the Compassion Award to Heather Mann

THE row may have flared over the non-appearance of the First Minister, but there was one special person the Dalai Lama was far more interested in meeting during his visit to Edinburgh.

Heather Mann, 17, was at the Usher Hall to receive the inaugural Evening News-backed Youth Compassion Award from the man himself.

The award capped an incredible month for the teenager which has also seen her carry the Olympic torch in recognition of her charitable work.

Heather, below, who has worked for organisations such as the Salvation Army and Support in Mind, said: “It’s been crazy – I was running with the Olympic torch last week and then here today.

“It was an amazing feeling being honoured, and by the Dalai Lama as well.

“When I received my award, he just told me to keep doing what I was doing, which made me think I need to carry on.”

The Juniper Green resident, who is adopted, began fundraising aged just 12 when she netted £2600 for a schizophrenia charity by wearing pyjamas into Musselburgh town centre and the Capital after discovering her birth mother suffered from the illness.

This feat triggered a desire to help people and she became the Salvation Army’s youngest ever volunteer abroad when she travelled to work at a poverty-hit orphanage in Jamaica.

The award was presented after the Dalai Lama told the audience of his hopes for a future free from violence.

He also played down controversy surrounding the failure to arrange a meeting with Alex Salmond, saying it was more important to engage with ordinary people.

He issued a call to China to respect Tibet’s unique society and culture, and the individual freedoms of its own people.

He told journalists at the National Library of Scotland: “Because of our own religious and cultural traditions, and delicate environment, we should have meaningful autonomy.

“[Scottish] devolution was a model for us – [Tibetans] often talk about the history of your country. It has a very high standard of modern autonomy.”

Earlier, His Holiness toured some of the Capital’s leading cultural centres, including the Signet and National libraries, before heading to the Usher Hall for the ceremony. The News accepted nominations for the award which Heather received.

After the ceremony, her grandad, Stuart Robertson, 72, said: “We are very proud. She’s had so many difficult experiences.”

Evening News editor Frank O’Donnell said: “We’ve heard about so many talented and selfless young people, but Heather stood out. She is a true inspiration.”

Tenor soloist Martin Aelred, accompanied by singers from St George’s School for Girls, opened and closed the event.

Choir member Harriet Howlett, 16, said: “It was such a privilege to perform for the Dalai Lama.”

Anna Tomlinson, deputy head at St George’s, said: “The atmosphere was electrifying.”

 

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