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Brave Giles wins Burns Humanitarian Award

This news post is about 9 years old

Edinburgh lawyer wins prestigious prize for work across the world

A lawyer who set up a charity to provide people in developing countries with prosthetic limbs has won the 2015 Burns Humanitarian Award.

Olivia Giles (pictured) was presented with the award in a special ceremony at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.

The award recognises those who have saved or improved other people's lives.

Giles herself is a triple amputee having lost her hands and feet to serious illness.

She contracted meningitis in 2002 and went into a medical coma during which she suffered from toxic shock and gangrene.

Her hands and feet had to be amputated to save her life and she was later fitted with prosthetic limbs and learned to walk again.

The 42 year old set up the charity 500 Miles with Jamie McAndrew, also a quadruple amputee, to help rehabilitate amputees in deprived areas of the world.

She is also a dedicated fundraiser for a variety of causes.

The award was presented by Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf.

She was selected as the winner from 120 nominations - the highest number ever received for the award.

She said: “I’m both shocked and overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the judges for this unexpected recognition. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to help the people we work with and firmly believe I got my second chance so I could help others get theirs.

“It’s impossible to describe how it feels when you see a young girl walk for the first time thanks to a prosthetic leg we’ve provided or to hear that men who had to depend on family and friends to get around are regaining some form of independence because they are now mobile. It really means the world and I’m very privileged to be part of that.

“As a proud Scotswoman, it’s a tremendous honour to receive the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and I will continue to do all I can to live up to his beliefs of treating everyone as equals and working towards a fair and just society throughout the world.”

Giles was shortlisted ahead of two other finalists for the award: Sompop Jantraka, a Thai activist who has worked for more than 26 years to rescue children from exploitative labour, prostitution and child trafficking; andDr Sanduk Ruit who has dedicated his life to combatingunnecessary blindness in countries with poor accesss to healthcare.