A young Angus woman who succeeded against the odds has picked up a prestigious Prince’s Trust Award in a star-studded London ceremony.
Olivia Blackburn received the Young Achiever accolade from Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey in Tuesday’s glittering celebration.
The inspirational 24-year-old is now thriving as an NHS healthcare support worker – in the same ward where her mum is receiving treatment.
It’s a career dream Olivia never thought possible when she left school early after a string of personal setbacks.
But she is now in her second year of a nursing degree at Dundee University.
Olivia said she was thrilled to win the award.
The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards recognise young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.
And celebrity ambassadors included Sir Ben Kingsley, Amal Clooney, Jeremy Irons, Anne Marie, Melanie C, Nicola Adams and Bridgerton actors Jonathan Bailey and Phoebe Dynevor.
‘I never thought I would have so many options or a future’
“When I think back to my time at school, it was really difficult for me,” Olivia said.
“I had health conditions that weren’t under control, and I was awaiting major surgery on my jaw.
“I often had to miss classes for medical appointments or because I wasn’t well enough to attend.
“It got to a point where I decided to leave school early to focus on my health, even though I knew I may never be able to go to university or college due to my grades.
“Although I was upset, I accepted it.
“In March 2019, my mum fell ill, and this had a huge impact on me and my family, as we had already lost my dad to cancer.
“Although we were all able to support each other, it came as a shock.”
Despite the challenges, Olivia was determined to explore options that would help her build her confidence and skills.
Prince’s Trust advert turning point
And after seeing an advert for a Prince’s Trust course run in partnership with NHS Scotland and Dundee & Angus College, she decided to apply.
The six-week course offered her the training and work experience she needed to start a career in the NHS.
Olivia flourished on the course, and after completing the programme secured a job as a healthcare support worker in the same Haematology ward that is treating her mum.
She went on to gain a HNC Care and Administrative Practice qualification.
And is now in her second year of an adult nursing degree at Dundee University.
Olivia said, “The Prince’s Trust and NHS have had a massive impact on my life.
“As soon as I started the course, I already saw a better future for myself; a future I didn’t see before, with a career I would be proud of, and I love.
“As soon as I saw a post for haematology, I knew it was where I wanted to work.
“It is such a specialised unit, with an amazing team and I learn something every day.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the Trust, Dundee and Angus College or the NHS.”
Bridgerton star’s praise for “amazing” winner
Olivia said the London trip had been an “incredible experience”.
“I loved meeting all the other winners – I still can’t quite believe I’ve won,” said Olivia.
“My ambition of becoming a staff nurse in the haematology ward is now even closer to becoming reality, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Actor Jonathan, who plays Lord Anthony Bridgerton in the hit Netflix series said; “Olivia is a formidable person and huge inspiration to young people everywhere.
“She has shown great determination to succeed and fight for her dream career after overcoming many obstacles to succeed in education.
“She’s amazing. It’s clear to see that the future Olivia has strived for is looking very bright.”