Finlay Lindores, 12, was the winner of the Inspirational Award category at Galashiels Academy’s Wider Achievement Awards.

Selected by the Parent Council, nominations could come from any category on the night. Finlay had always excelled in academic subjects and video games but struggled to find a sport he could enjoy.

With help and advice, he managed to join the Lothian Racers, a disability swimming group in Edinburgh. He trained with them twice a week and gained strength and confidence enough to join the Galashiels Swimming Club. He now trains with mainstream swimmers three times a week. Finlay started competing in disability swim meets and found himself achieving personal bests and medals. His commitment was noted by his coaches and he was invited to join the East of Scotland squad, and he went through the qualification process to enable him to compete at a higher level.

This culminated in a call-up to the Scottish Junior National Squad, and he represented Scotland for the first time in November 2014 in Manchester. He achieved a Silver and Bronze medal at that event, and he was part of the winning Scottish team. He continues to travel to Penicuik weekly, Broxburgh and Stirling monthly to train with the best disability coaches, and also trains with the Galashiels Swimming Club on a weekly basis.

Speaking to the Border Telegraph, he said: “I found it really hard to find sports I could enjoy because of my legs. Football and rugby would be difficult. With swimming, you are less reliant on your legs and I felt that I should give it a go. My mum’s friend suggested that I get into swimming, and I just went for a trial and I really enjoyed it. So I went to further sessions and and now I am competing at national level.” S2 student Sarah Frizzel was also a swimming-related success story, winning the top award in the Sport category.

The 14-year-old is a member of Galashiels Swimming Club and BEST, the Borders Elite Swimming Team. In the last year, she has broken all age-group club records for Breast Stroke at Gala ASC, some of which have been in place for over 30 years. In her first year in the Elite team she had gone from being in the top 200 to 300 swimmers in her age group in Scotland, to being among the top 10 in both the 100 and 200m Breast Stroke sections.

Outside of sporting success, Edelweiss Pirates scooped the coveted Arts & Music award and Lorimer Linton received the top award in the Community and Volunteering category. The 15-year-old has helped his grandmother cope with the many tasks and chores around the house since his grandfather passed away earlier this year. Lorimer does all the heavy manual jobs around the house, and also helps with shopping and washing windows.

The S4 student has also taken over the responsibility of looking after the garden, whilst helping to maintain the gardens of five elderly neighbours in the area- just as his grandfather did.

His work doesn’t stop there. If his grandmother or her elderly neighbours need IT help, he is on hand to give tuition and guidance with computer and internet-related queries. Speaking to the Border Telegraph, Lorimer said: “My grandfather used to help his neighbours, so it felt like the right thing to do. I enjoy speaking to them too, so it never really feels like work to me.” Local councillor Sandy Aitchison gave the key note speech at the start of the night. As a past pupil, he believes the grounding he received at Galashiels Academy in his formative years has set him up for life. The Executive Member for Education on Scottish Borders Council said: “I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from coming back to Galashiels Academy. It is a fantastic place, a fantastic environment with great kids, good teachers and wonderful parents as well.

“And it accomplishes everything which is good about the area in which we are fortunate to live. For all my life, I have applied for various jobs, got some of them and been turned down for many more. “But one of the things in the application form you always fill in is your education, and one of the things you write down is what school have you been at. And you cannot avoid the fact that when you write Galashiels Academy, it makes a fantastic statement.

“It tells people so much about you, which is beyond your academic achievement. It is something you must carry with pride as you go forward in life.” Speaking about the importance of the awards, he said: “We need a richness and diversity in our culture to make it interesting. And it’s essential that we award achievement in whatever field that comes. Because not every kid can play rugby, not every kid can achieve high status in academic achievement. “Not everyone has abilities to run, or be an artist. But the secret to education is to remember that every child is good at something. What we have to do is identify what it is, and hone that skill. Somehow we need to try and achieve that.

“The teachers have a huge job to do in that respect. They are crucial. But the kids themselves have to have that spark. And the kids here do have that. This night been hugely inspirational.” Nominees for the Art and Music award: Jack Shepherd, Alistair Robinson, Peter Starrs, Kare Hanson, Louis Glennon, Maddison Scott, Craig, Gell, Joanna, Maciejewska, Declan McKendrick, Mhairi Finlayson, Jamie Rae, Julia Dodds, Cameron Hutchison, Sophie Wilson, Izzy Timmins, Steven Patterson, Rachel Rutherford, John Turnbull, Lawson Marr, Joris Caldow, Freya Evans, Cecilia Hing, Emma Spence, Robyn Flockhart, Alistair Crooks, Lucy Stevenson, Jamie Tough, Holly Nichol, Erin Christie, Glenn Frizzel, Kare Hanson, Cameron Hutchsion, Luke Stars, Jamie Ray. Winner - Edelweiss Pirates Nominees for the Community and Volunteering award: Cara Smith, Lorimer Linton, Edward Coom, Alistair Crooks, Eilidh Currie, Coll Drury, Kamen Kennedy, Alistair Kevan, Lorimer Linton, Elspeth MacKinnon, Lawson Marr, Rebeccas Martin, Rachel Rutherford, Gregor Shepherd, Rory Shephered, Gemma Stoddart, Lauren Thomson, Isabella Timmins, John Turnbull, Matthew Tysko, Finlay Watt, Eve Wemyss, Joe Wilson, Heather Wilson.

Winner – Lorimer Linton Nominees for the Sports award: Alistair Robinson, Ross Caverhill, Joe Fairgrieve, Tom Darling, Tyler Grainger, Ben Swan, Jack Swaney, Cameron Dalgleish, Kerr Halls, Jordan Turnbull, Brendan Jack, Jake Shepherd, Beth Johnston, Finlay Lindores, Charis Scott, Tabitha Scott, Sarah Frizzel, Mairi Eades, Holly Shepherd. Winner- Sarah Frizzel Nominees for the Inspirational award: Beth Johnston, Finlay Lindores, Alistair Robinson, Lorimer Linton, Jamie Tough. Winner – Finlay Lindores