Marching on parliament, speaking in the House of Commons and flying around the UK to deliver speeches — it’s all in a day’s work for Nicole Dempster, crowned MSYP of the year for 2015.
The Scottish Youth Parliament member, from Newton Mearns, picked up an award alongside Emma Ball, an East Renfrewshire Council young persons services community worker who inspired her to make her name at Holyrood.
Former Eastwood High pupil Nicole is about to stand down from the East Renfrewshire seat, having moved on to Stirling University for a degree in politics and sociology.
But her time as an MSYP has set her on course for a future career in politics — thanks, in part, to support from community worker Emma, who helped her to overcome severe anxiety and speak in public.
Nicole said: “Emma completely changed me and inspired me to have confidence in myself and my abilities.
“I have marched on parliament, spoken in the House of Commons, had lunch with Scotland’s first minister, lobbied MPs and MSPs and local elected officials, I’ve spoken in Shetland and Ireland — and I’ve faced my anxiety.
“I wouldn’t have done any of that if Emma didn’t believe in me, encourage me and give me that push.”
All that work paid off for Emma too, who picked up the MSYP support worker of the year award.
She was cited as the driving force behind a marked increase in the number of young people interested in running for MSYP, taking East Ren from an empty seat in 2013 to 15 youngsters standing for election this year.