A FORRES woman is Moray’s new youth development champion.
Full-time quality assurance specialist Laura Smith (25) won the Moray Community Award at the Alexander Graham Bell Centre in Moray College UHI in front of fellow nominees, family and friends.
She said: “I was honoured to be a finalist and proud to take home a certificate. Everything I do is for young people and not for recognition – I was very grateful to be recognised but I could not have won the award without them.”
Laura’s mum Donna Philp nominated her.
She explained: “Laura started volunteering at 18 when she realised there wasn’t a Guide unit for her little sister Meghan in Kinloss so she set one up. Laura was recently awarded a long-service award by the Guides. She now runs Kinloss Brownies as well and is as an assistant with the Kinloss Beavers.” Laura started Guides herself aged 10, deciding to be a youth leader at 14.
She said: “I always felt very welcome, made new friends and gained new skills. I have suffered from a lack of confidence but being involved in so many groups has helped me with this. I want to give younger people the opportunity to experience what I did and most importantly, what I did not!”
Donna added: “For the last six years, Laura has been a youth leader at the Glenalmond summer camp for the Scottish Episcopal Church. She is also a leader for the Moray Ross and Caithness Youth area. She recently started the Youth Fellowship at St John’s Church in Forres and is helping build up membership for that.”
Laura started as youth leader at annual camps in Perth which bring Episcopal church members together for worship, fellowship and fun.
She then started helping the Diocesan youth officer for Moray, Ross and Caithness with monthly youth groups in Inverness at the Cathedral.
Most recently, Laura started the St John’s Youth Fellowship Group in Forres to help younger members learn and develop their faith.
Laura said: “I love seeing young people learn new things, experience new or revisit old opportunities, and most of all their faces as they enjoy activities and events.”
Proud mum Donna added: “She does all this while continuing to mentor her sister’s volunteering. We are extremely proud of her.”