A CHILDREN'S champion from Selkirk has been shortlisted for a national humanitarian award.

Margaret Mills MBE was one of the first ever female inspectors with the Scottish Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children.

And is currently a project worker with Children 1st.

A total of 42 nominations were received for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2013.

Whittling the list down to the final three, which also includes the very Reverend Dr John and Mary Miller from Glasgow, and the late Khalil Dale MBE, fell to the RBHA Judging Panel, chaired by David Anderson, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council.

David told the Border Telegraph: We were overwhelmed with the nominations for the 2013 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and I would like to thank everyone who helped make this a record year.

"Choosing only three to make the final shortlist was extremely difficult as every single nominee would have been both a worthy finalist and a worthy winner.

"Margaret has spent her life working to secure brighter futures for vulnerable children, achieving success where others have failed. John and Mary have worked tirelessly to make a difference in communities across the world - from Castlemilk in Glasgow to Murambinda in Zimbabwe.

"And Khalil paid the ultimate sacrifice, quite literally giving his life while working to help others less fortunate than him.

"These are four extraordinary people who epitomise all that a humanitarian should be and we now have the unenviable task of selecting just one finalist to become the recipient of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2013. It certainly won't be easy." The panel was made up of broadcaster Kaye Adams, actor, writer and painter John Cairney, Nat Edwards, Director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, former RBHA winners Habib Malik and Guy Willoughby, Robert Stewart, President of the Robert Burns World Federation, and STV Chief Executive Rob Woodward.

Margaret, who has helped set up family centres and established support groups and mechanisms for children and families, is delighted to have made the shortlist.

She said: "I am both honoured and humbled to be recognised in this way for the work I carry out on a day-to-day basis, without looking for reward or acknowledgement. "From an early age, I have been privileged to work with young people who have experienced abuse and trauma in their lives. In the course of my work, I find that I am continually rewarded by those children who choose to engage with me and put their trust in this relationship.

"I am also rewarded by seeing the resilience that young people have and their ability to move forward with their lives, some after very traumatic and abusive experiences.

"It is my belief that every young person affected by sexual, physical and emotional abuse and trauma has the right and opportunity to access a recovery service. As one of the three finalists of this prestigious award, I am really pleased that this serves to raise the profile of Children 1st as a charity and of the work that we do." The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is part of Scotland's Winter Festivals, which celebrate our nation's rich culture and heritage from St Andrew's Day until Burns Night.

The Award recognises a group or individual who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or 'hands-on' charitable work.

Winners receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas - a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation - as well as a specially commissioned award handcrafted in Scotland. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum on Saturday, January 26.