A selfless seven-year-old, a community volunteer, a marathon walker and a young carer are among the nominees in the Young Person’s Champion category of the Evening Express Aberdeen’s Champion Awards.
The awards, which are run in association with Balmoral Group and Original 106FM, aim to recognise and celebrate the people in our communities who make the north-east a great place to live and work.
He may only be seven years old, but nominee Connor Easdale’s determined, selfless actions belied his years.
The youngster, from Fraserburgh, raffled a toy dinosaur during lockdown in a bid to lift the spirits of other children.
The money he raised went towards CHAS, which cares for his little brother Jayden, and the Stanley Beau Foundation.
Four-year-old Jayden was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition Tay-Sachs disease in 2017.
Mum Lynn Easdale said: “I’m so proud of Connor for being nominated for this award. He’s only seven years old but since Jayden’s diagnosis, he seemed to grow up really fast.
“He’s a boy with a big heart. He just wants to help other children and families.
“CHAS supports us a family and Connor loves it to bits, but his main mission was to make a child smile during lockdown.”
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Demmi Ewen was nominated by her mum’s boss for her commitment to helping those in her community.
Demmi, from Dyce, helped to organise activities and events for elderly people in the area as part of the EncourAGE project.
She also delivered shopping for vulnerable people and created and typed up weekly quizzes for pensioners to keep them entertained.
And if that wasn’t enough, she delivered meals to people who couldn’t leave their homes and started up a Dyce litter pick group.
Demmi said: “During lockdown the project wasn’t running because my mum was furloughed from her job at Dyce Community Centre, so instead, we’ve been doing Friday food deliveries for the elderly and we also created some quizzes.
“I started a Dyce litter pick group because I was so fed up of seeing rubbish everywhere and it was all over areas where the kids were playing.
“It was a really nice feeling to find out I had been nominated for the award because it was a complete surprise.
“I deliver newspapers and my mum asked me to go and get one and look for names I recognised.
“I was so confused at this point until I saw the page with my name on it!”
When nominee Mac Johnston found out VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm was at risk of closing for good because of Covid-19, he was determined to do something about it.
The seven-year-old, who has autism, is a regular visitor to the facility with his family and pooch Marley.
When he heard the farm’s future was in doubt, Mac decided to walk the equivalent of a marathon in the area near his Cove home during the month of May, with Marley by his side.
Mum Jodie said: “When I explained to Mac that the farm might have to close he was just desperate to do something.
“He genuinely believed he could save the farm and in some ways he has.
“We still can’t believe he’s managed to raise more than £3,000. It’s amazing what a little boy and a lab can do.
“We’re over the moon and so proud of him.”
On her son being nominated, Jodie added: “We can’t believe he’s even been shortlisted.
“It was like he had won the lottery when he found out, he was running about the house and he was so excited. It was a really lovely moment for the house.
“He’s got such a big heart but because of the autism that makes it quite hard to be seen, he hides it away quite a bit.”
The final amazing youngster is Shahzad Ahmad, who was nominated for creating inspiring and informative videos about his relationship with his brother Waleed, who has profound and multiple learning disabilities.
Shahzad’s videos, which are uploaded to his Shining Stars YouTube channel, have been particularly helpful for other families caring for a person with similar needs.
They have also been praised by PAMIS, a charity for people with profound and multiple learning difficulties, who say his empathetic videos during lockdown have touched the hearts of families across Scotland.
18-year-old Shahzad said: “I am a carer for my younger brother who has epilepsy, cerebral palsy and he is also registered blind.
“I am from Pakistan and back home the caring is not very good.
“So I started a YouTube channel called ‘Shining Stars’ and I’m making videos to provide information to parents and carers.
“I’ve had some really good comments and people have said that it’s been really informative.
“I feel very proud to have been nominated for the award, but it’s down to my brother because he helps me to make all of the videos.
“He really motivated me to produce the content. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be making the videos.”
If that isn’t enough, Shahzad is about to embark on a medical degree at Aberdeen University, with the aim of helping other families in a similar situation.
He added: “I have an unconditional offer for medicine. I used to go to lots of appointments with my brother and being a carer for him motivated me to become a doctor so that I can take care of other people as well.”
Go to www.dctevents.com/event/aberdeenschampionawards/ for more information