Erin aims to be Red Cross queen
CHILLED OUT: Erin has a positive character.
NATION'S PRIDE: A crowning moment for Menstrie girl
MENSTRIE'S brave beauty queen Erin McNeill is in line for a top humanitarian award.
The 22-year-old suffered horrific burns in a house fire in 2009, which left her with terrible scars.
Since the blaze she has dedicated her life to helping educate people about the dangers of fire - and raising money for charities that support the firefighters who rescued her from the flames.
Now the reigning Miss Scotland International has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories of the British Red Cross Humanitarian Citizen Awards - volunteering and fundraising.
She said, "I'm really thrilled, this is such an honour. The Red Cross is a huge organisation and highly respected all over the world. I can't believe that they're considering me for an award."
The Young Scot of the Year 2012 expects to undergo five or six operations for reconstructive surgery next year, but is determined to help her local Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service drive home the fire safety message.
She said, "I am able to show people what fire can do to you, the damage it can cause. It shocks them to see my scars but that only helps drive home the message. I want people to look at my injuries and ask me questions. I'd rather they did that than just stare at me.
"I've visited community groups, Young Offenders Institutions and prisons with the Fire and Rescue Service. It's difficult for me sometimes, but after I've done it I feel much better, like I've achieved something.
"I suppose I'm trying to do something positive after such a negative event in my life. And I'm doing something to help the firefighters who saved my life."
Erin has also been making a name for herself on the international beauty pageant circuit, after being motivated to see if organisers would discriminate against her scars - which they haven't.
Gordon Pryde, Central Scotland Fire and Rescue's community safety manager, said, "We are all delighted that Erin has reached the final of the Red Cross Humanitarian Citizen Awards. We are very proud of her.
"She has done a great deal of good both in getting a powerful fire safety message across to people and also by raising money for the Fire Service Benevolent Fund. Her courage and determination is remarkable and deserves to be recognised."
Winners of the Humanitarian Citizen Awards will be announced at the award ceremony in London's Bishopsgate Institute on 6 October.
This article appeared in Alloa & Hillfoots Advertiser 28 Sep 12
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