SHETLAND’s two latest members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have been elected, with Charlie Haddon and Sonny Thomason winning the poll.
Over 1,000 votes were cast by young people aged between 12 and 25 over the last two weeks, and on Monday the election result was announced at the Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick.
Both Haddon and Thomason said they were delighted to have been elected, although it came as something of a surprise.
They received more votes than Dannii Coleman, Lewis Johnson and Carys Nield to win the election.
Speaking after the announcement, Haddon, who hails from Weisdale, said he wants to overturn inequalities facing young people on the isles.
“Obviously in Shetland there are inequalities that can’t really be helped,” he said.
“That’s more to do with geographics – just where we are in the middle of the ocean. I’d like to do my best to make them inequalities more equal.”
Thomason, who lives in Lerwick, said health, education and work would be at the top of his agenda.
“I think mental health and sexual health are major issues for me, because of the stigma around it,” he said.
“And also about work and education, about getting more partnerships when you leave school and what can be done after school.”
Speaking during his victory speech, Haddon praised the work of Shetland’s youth services’s Martin Summers and the rest of the team.
Thomason added that he and his peer were “truly grateful” to have been elected, adding that they will seek to build “successful relationships” in the next couple of years.
Shetland had a turnout of 28.76 per cent on the internet and across a number of voting stations in the isles, which was the highest turn-out in Scotland.
The isles also enjoyed a 5.4 per cent rise in votes from the last count in 2015.
The winning pair will replace the outgoing Kaylee Mouat and Kelvin Anderson, who will continue in their roles until June.
After that, the new MSYPs will begin to attend regular meetings at the youth parliament in Edinburgh as they represent Shetland over the next two years.
Summers paid tribute to the winning pair and said he thinks they will do well in following in their predecessors’ footsteps.
“Firstly, congratulations to Charlie Haddon and Sonny Thomason on their success and well done to all the candidates for having the courage to stand for election, which is a testing experience for anyone,” he said.
“I am sure that Charlie and Sonny will do an excellent job to represent the interests of young people in Shetland, both locally and at national sittings of the Scottish Youth Parliament.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said after the result was announced that he is looking forward to working with the new MSYPs in the months ahead.
“Carys, Dannii, Lewis, Sonny and Charlie deserve huge congratulations for putting themselves forward for election. It is not easy,” he said.
“Someone has to win so well done to Sonny and Charlie. They have big shoes to step into as Kaylee and Kelvin have been great ambassadors for Shetland in Scotland’s Youth Parliament. I look forward to working with our newly elected MSYPs for Shetland’s young people when they take up their roles.”