Teenage environmental activist Holly is Young Scotswoman of the Year for 2019

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Local teenage climate change school striker and environmental activist Holly Gillibrand has been named as the 2019 Glasgow Times Young Scotswoman of the Year, following a public vote.

Inspired by Swedish teenage climate campaigner, Gret Thunberg, Holly, a fourth-year pupil at Lochaber High School, started striking from school every Friday morning at the start of last year.

Her profile has continued to grow, with the result being a flurry of invitations to speak at national events, including the Green Party’s political conference and Edinburgh Book Festival.

Holly has also just been announced as a youth advisor and ‘future voice’ for the charity, Heal Rewilding.

Holly, aged 15 – often referred to as ‘Scotland’s Greta Thunberg’ – is also a regular columnist for the Lochaber Times.

From Kinlocheil near Fort William, where she lives with her family, Holly would have been presented with the prestigious award at a glitzy gala dinner in Glasgow, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this had to be cancelled and now Holly, and her fellow finalists, will be invited to attend next year’s celebrations instead.

Glasgow Times Editor Callum Baird commented in his newspaper: ‘All of our Young SWOTY [Glasgow Times Young Scotswoman of the Year] finalists are amazing and Holly is a very worthy winner.

‘We have all been inspired by her willingness to stand up for what she believes in, her passion for the natural world, and her determination to speak up in the fight against climate change.

‘She is a fantastic role model for young people everywhere.’

Leading Friday's school climate strike outside Lochaber High School, Holly Gillibrand is filmed for social media by her mum, Kate Willis. PICTURE IAIN FERGUSON, THE WRITE IMAGE NO F08 SCHOOL STRIKE HOLLY GILLIBRAND 02
Leading Friday school climate strikes outside Lochaber High School last year, Holly Gillibrand is filmed for social media by her mum, Kate Willis. Photograph: Iain ferguson, The Write Image

Mum Kate Willis told us: ‘We (her parents) are incredibly proud of what Holly is doing, and it is good to see that her efforts are being noticed, but this is tinged with sadness.

‘Holly should not have to strike from school every Friday morning to fight for action on the climate and ecological crisis.  The greatest reward for Holly will be when the Scottish, and other governments, start taking this crisis seriously and take action, as they have shown they can do with COVID-19.’

Holly told the Lochaber Times: ‘I am incredibly honoured to have won this award, though it is also very frustrating that on the same day the winner was announced, the Scottish Government released their climate emission stats for 2018, which revealed that emissions in Scotland went up by 1.5 per cent between 2017 and 2018 and the climate target for 2018 was missed.

‘We are heading in the completely wrong direction and I hope to use this award as a platform to speak about the imminent collapse of our life support systems if we do nothing.’