Sitting with Sir Rod Stewart in the garden of the pop legend’s mansion in Essex, Reece Hayes is so star-struck he can barely speak.
He thinks he is there to discuss his campaigning work, and when Rod’s wife Penny Lancaster reveals why they have brought him from his home in Glasgow, 24-year-old Reece is stunned.
Penny, 49, tells him: “We brought you here today under a little false pretence but I’ve got some fantastic news… you are the winner of the Pride of Scotland’s Prince’s Trust Young Achiever award.”
Rod, 75, whips the award from under a tartan shawl, and tells Reece: “Your mum would be very proud of you.”
Reece was just 20 when his mother died, aged 45, after years of mental health issues. Reece won the award for his work as a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador, helping others by sharing his experiences of poverty, mental health issues and violent crime.
Rod says: “I bet she’s looking down at you right now. And if I was your father, I’d be extremely proud of you.”
The Daily Record Pride of Scotland Awards, in partnership with TSB, which will be shown on STV and STV Player, honours Scotland’s unsung heroes of 2020.
At the age of 11, Reece became his mum’s carer. He struggled to cope and became angry, suicidal, and violent. After narrowly missing jail and spending a night in a cell, Reece was referred to the Prince’s Trust.
He says spending a night in jail was the turning point. “It was probably the biggest wake-up call,” he says. “The Prince’s Trust believed in me and believed I could build a better life for myself.”
Reece got a job with Tesco through a Prince’s Trust programme run with the supermarket chain.
But after deciding on a career in mental health, he took a college course in social services and is now in his second year of a Social Work degree at the University of Edinburgh.
He has also worked with a Scottish Government policymaker as part of the Poverty Trust Commission, and works part time helping adults with learning disabilities. He says: “I want to draw on my experiences to help others.”
Rod says: “Reece and I had a great chat about his past and more importantly about his positive outlook on the future. Reece’s ambition is to help others going through what he had to. It’s important to recognise those who put others first. It’s a time that we need to help our fellow man.”
- The Daily Record Pride of Scotland Awards 2020, in partnership with TSB, will be available across the UK on all major platforms through the STV Player from 10.45pm on Thursday, December 31.