A north woman who gave up her dream of swimming as she endured a battle with her mental health has now been named as one of the country’s “unsung heroes”.
Kirsty Ewen says that volunteering in sport “saved her life”, as she became increasingly prone to self-harm and began to fear that she would not live to see her 18th birthday.
The 28-year-old says that helping others has assisted in turning her life around.
And she has now won BBC Scotland’s Get Inspired Unsung Hero award, and appeared on stage before some of the country’s biggest sporting stars at the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year event in Birmingham last night to collect the prize.
Ms Ewen said: “I was self-harming and I had to make a choice whether to continue my dream of becoming a swimmer or to self-harm, and at that time I chose to give up swimming.
“I was pretty rubbish at all sports apart from swimming, but I fell in love with coaching.
“At the time, I was going through some pretty bad struggles with my mental health. Volunteering has helped me to accept myself.”
Ms Ewen took up volunteering when she was 15, and has since helped out with Inverness Swimming Club, the Highland Swim team and Scottish open water swimming events.
She has also volunteered at the London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships.
Ms Ewen added: “I still struggle now but volunteering definitely makes it easier.
“No matter what you are going through, there is always something to focus on and something worth fighting for.”