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A proud Lochgilphead lad has been congratulated for overcoming difficult circumstances, winning the accolade of Unsung Hero.
Josh Blair, a 23-year-old trans man, was nominated for his work for the LGBTQ+ community and bravery, having overcome his anxiety to return to a place full of bad memories to make a speech that helped give education and health professionals a better insight into the difficulties and mental health issues some within the community face.
Attending the Argyll and Bute Youth Awards, Josh was humbled to receive the award: ‘I felt privileged to be nominated but now I feel even more so having actually won. It was all so surprising.
‘I have never won anything for essentially just being myself. Anyone else in the category absolutely deserved to win, so it really is an honour.’
Throughout high school, Josh was a victim of bullying, struggling to understand who he was as a person and confused by his own thoughts and feelings. Labelled as a tomboy, butch and a lesbian, he accepted this as who he was and suppressed his feelings. It wasn’t until moving to Glasgow and being more involved with the LGBTQ+ community he gained a better understanding of himself and being transgender.
Returning home to Lochgilphead, Josh came out as transgender, ultimately finding his true self. Since then he has become a stronger advocate for the LGBTQ+ community that helped him find his own voice.
‘I want to inspire people to be themselves,’ he said. ‘I want to be someone to look up to, to offer support and encouragement like I had. I felt alone and scared at first but people need to know they are not alone. It is OK to ask questions, there’s support out there and the LGBTQ+ community is like a family in itself.
‘I want to stand up and make a difference.’
Other winners on the night were:
- Duke of Edinburgh Outstanding Achievement Award: Oban High School’s Support Department
- Youth Environment Award sponsored by ACT: Hermitage Academy Eco Schools Group
- Youth Sporting Award sponsored by Live Argyll: Mollie Aiken, Bute
- Youth Volunteering Award sponsored by John Brown of Strone: SOAP, Dunoon
- Youth Arts Award sponsored by Anne Paterson: Campbeltown Brass Band
- Health and Wellbeing Award sponsored by NHS Health and Wellbeing: Freya Kennedy-Boyle, Bute
- Youth Citizenship Award sponsored by Gateway: Rosie Sumsion, Helensburgh
- Special Contribution Awards: Hannah Nicolson and Stephanie Thomas