A north-east project that uses the power of football to help pupils reach their education goals has won a national award.
The PeterDeen scheme takes s3 pupils from Peterhead Academy who find it tough getting to grips with the traditional school curriculum and gives them football coaching sessions, volunteering opportunities and time to complete core subjects in school.
So far, it has helped 116 young men and been hailed for the part it has played in reducing school exclusions by 80%.
The scheme has also been hailed for improving the lives of four young people in particular – saving the council £1 million in the process – by preventing them from going into residential care.
And such successes this week led the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Trust to award PeterDeen the Community Project of the Year Award at its conference at Hampden this week.
Two of the participating pupils, who have been working with PeterDeen since last summer, collected the award in front of representatives from 42 SPFL clubs, the Scottish Government, the SPFL and the Scottish FA.
Aberdeenshire Council is leading the two-year pilot project, with Aberdeen FC Community Trust, Peterhead FC and the Peterhead-based Score Group all involved.
Managing director of Score International Limited, Conrad Ritchie, has been delighted with its progress.
He said: “Well done to the pupils involved and their achievements so far.
“We are delighted to be involved in this project and are confident that the programme will continue to go from strength-to-strength.”
Councillor Gillian Owen, chairwoman of the council’s education and children’s services committee also expressed her pride in the youngsters involved.
And she added: “All partners should be extremely proud of their contributions too – it demonstrates just how much of a difference partnership working can make for the benefit of our local community.”
To win the award, the project was voted on by fellow clubs at the conference and received the most support.
Alongside the award-winning PeterDeen Project, other finalists included initiatives by Celtic FC Foundation, Partick Thistle Charitable Trust and Rangers Charity Foundation.
SPFL Trust CEO Nicky Reid said: “It’s fantastic to see so much brilliant work going on in our communities up and down the country.
“This year we’ve focused on highlighting how the projects align with the government set national outcomes to really show the added value football can add to society.
“A huge congratulations to the PeterDeen Scholarship for winning the peer vote and thank you to all our finalists for sharing their amazing projects with us.”