A former primary school head has been crowned Scotland’s learner of the year after battling back from mental health difficulties.
Anne Wilson, from Forres, was forced to give up teaching about 20 years ago due to mental health difficulties after nearly three decades in the classroom.
Now the former head teacher at Burghead and East End primary schools has bounced back from her troubles to become a mentor with environmental enterprise Earth for Life.
Last year, Mrs Wilson was encouraged to attend a 12-week course run by the group to learn forestry skills including building survival shelters, identifying native and invasive plants and sawing tree trunks.
However, after enjoying the sessions so much she has turned her attention to passing on what she has learned to others.
She said: “I had never thought about doing anything like that but I love being outdoors and walking in the woods with my dog so I thought I would give it a go – there are so many lovely areas in Moray too.
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“When you are anxious you are usually looking down at the ground or down at the dog when you are out. Through the 12 sessions though I realised I was looking up all of the time, looking at the sky and recognising trees.
“People need these experiences in addition to the medical sessions, which can be in hot rooms in hospital. Helping has been great because I’ve met people in similar situations to me.”
Mrs Wilson has also begun volunteering at Circles Advocacy, which offers help to people with mental and physical disabilities.
Alasdair Taylor, executive director of Earth for Life, said: “When Anne first started coming to us I could see how much she enjoyed it and how much more open she was.
“It’s helped to change her life, which isn’t bad for going out in the woods once a week.”
Mrs Wilson was named Lead Scotland’s learner of the year at a ceremony in Elgin yesterday, which recognises the person who has pushed their abilities to the limit while giving back to others.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who presented Mrs Wilson with her award, said: “Earth For Life’s strength is that it provides valuable training opportunities for many people who face challenges in life. It’s great to see a celebration of their achievements.”