Leith Academy pupils honoured by Prince Charles

Pupils from Leith Academy have been honoured by Prince Charles for their work in the community.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 10:05 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:53 am
The Prince of Wales (left) on stage with the winners of the Dell EMC Community Impact award Leith Academy with Claudia Winkleman (2nd right) and Hugh Dennis (right). Picture; PA

They were crowned winners at The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx Celebrate Success Awards, which were hosted by Ant and Dec yesterday at the London Palladium.

Presenter Claudia Winkleman and comedian Hugh Dennis introduced the Dell EMC Community Award, which was then presented to the group of six by the prince.

The award was given for the pupils’ hard work in raising awareness of the 216 soldiers who died in the Quintinshill rail disaster as they made their way to the front line during the First World War.

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Fraser Anderson, 16, said: “Winning this award has been overwhelming. It feels like all our hard has paid off.

“Being part of this project has helped us grow and mature and I would totally, 100 percent recommend the Prince’s Trust to other young people.”

The local history project commemorated the 216 young men from Leith who died in the crash near Gretna, Dumfries-shire, in what is thought to be the worst rail crash in British history.

The group members said they wanted to raise awareness of the tragedy, which shattered the Leith community.

Receiving the prize in London was not the pupils’ first brush with royalty. The group also helped plant 215 trees as part of the First World War Centenary Wood in the Pentlands, with the final tree being planted by Princess Anne.

The most recent commemoration involved creating a stained glass poppy wreath and designing glass dog tags to hang on a Tree of Life now on display at a local arts centre.

They also sprayed 216 chalk poppies on the pavements – one for each casualty – to mark the route taken by the Quintinshill funeral procession.

Posters raising awareness of the crash were designed by the group and distributed throughout the area, with one being delivered to each casualty’s home address.

The Achieve programme helps young people who are struggling at school, giving them confidence and motivation.

The winning pupils were all underachieving in education and lacking in self-belief.

Pupil Maria Leslie, 17, said: “It was really scary at first but it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done. I feel really proud of our project.”

Teacher Christine Boal said: “It is almost impossible to put into words how proud I am of these young people.

“They have done us all, and themselves, proud in what they have achieved and how they have conducted themselves.”