A COMRIE teenager who lends a helping hand to everyone – from children to pensioners – has been put forward in the Press’ Community Champions Awards.

Rachel Hunter, 16, of Steel Grove, was elected Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) for Dunfermline last year, and also gives her time to local good causes.

As a member of the Oakley and Comrie events and activities group, which is part of the gala, the Queen Anne High pupil helps organise a fireworks display and, following two visits with the Dunfermline Trondheim Twinning Association to Norway last year, she’s now involved in arranging a conference for her Norwegian counterparts in August.

Since the age of 13, she has volunteered with play schemes at the community centre, where she is now a part-time youth worker.

The teen also helps at a pensioners’ group dinner, serving food and clearing up afterwards.

She told the Press: “I got involved in all of this by being a member of the West Fife Villages Youth Theatre – I was performing but it also gave me more confidence to work with other people.

"I want to study community education and these experiences have given me an idea of what I want to do when I’m older.

“You get a lot of pride out of it – it just makes you happy helping people. With the younger people, you get to watch them grow up and get confidence.

"You want them to know that even though we’re a bit older, they can talk to us. You broaden your horizons as well, I got to see how different things are in Norway.”

Due to her volunteer work, Rachel was asked to run for the Scottish Youth Parliament. Although initially hesitant, she agreed and is now planning for re-election next year.

She said: “The youth worker said there was nobody to stand for the area. It wasn’t really my cup of tea but then I thought, why not?

“Before that I wasn’t really interested in politics, but now I am. It’s about making the voices of young people heard.

“A big issue right now is mental health and the stigma, not just in the community but nationwide.

"People don’t really talk about it and we have to let people know it’s not a bad thing, and they can talk about it.

"I do actually know a lot of people from around the villages who are affected, but they’re put off by having to go to the doctor and being told ,‘It’s OK, you’re just a teenager, it’s just hormones.’

“As an MSYP, I think I’ve given young people a choice of someone to go to. Not everybody knows who their councillor, or MP, or MSP is.

"It’s not just older people who are involved in politics – younger people can be involved as well.”

Rachel has already received Saltire Awards certificates for her volunteer work, and now she’s been nominated in our Youth Community Champion category.

She was put forward by her proud dad Robert, who said: “She listens and acts upon the promises she makes to the people of the community and is always there when called upon.”

Rachel was surprised to discover she had been nominated, saying: “Young people often get a bad name but we’re not all like that and it’s nice to know young people are getting recognition for the work they do.”

Do you know a special young person like Rachel who stands apart from the rest? Nominations for the Community Champions Awards close on Sunday, April 10, so don't delay! Click here to nominate.