‘Butterfly skin’ girl who sparked Souness charity challenge to receive award

Isla Grist, the 14-year-old girl who inspired Graeme Souness to raise more than £1.2 million for charity (PA)
Isla Grist, the 14-year-old girl who inspired Graeme Souness to raise more than £1.2 million for charity (PA)

A youngster with an agonising skin condition is to receive a prestigious award after inspiring a footballing legend to take on a charity swim across the English Channel.

Isla Grist, 14, inspired Graeme Souness, 70, to swim the 21-mile crossing, raising more £1.2 million.

The youngster has recessive dystrophic Epidermolysis bullosa, a rare condition that causes painful, blistering skin, which varies in severity depending on the individual.

Mr Souness, a former professional footballer, manager and now pundit, raised the money for Debra, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with the condition, which is also known as “butterfly skin”.

Graeme Souness sits with Isla Grist
Graeme Souness has become friends with Isla and her family (Debra/PA)

Mr Souness, who is vice-president of Debra, completed the challenge in 12 hours alongside a team of five others – which included Debra’s father.

Isla, from the Black Isle will receive her Teenager of Courage award at Thursday’s Pride of Scotland Awards, hosted by Scots actors Elaine C Smith and Sanjeev Singh Kohli.

Held in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, the award categories include Outstanding Bravery, Special Recognition, Emergency Services and TSB community hero.

Other winners this year include 10-year-old Jade Edward – a quadruple amputee from Aberdeenshire who has defied all odds and become a talented young surfer, and siblings Grace and Harry Sinclair of Dunfermline, who have fundraised to help families coping with cancer.

Pride of Scotland Awards presenters Sanjeev Singh Kohli and Elaine C Smith
Pride of Scotland Awards presenters Elaine C Smith and Sanjeev Singh Kohli (Ross Turpie/Daily Record Sunday Mail Reach PLC) (ROSS TURPIE/DAILY RECORD)

This year’s awards will be attended by a host of well-known Scottish celebrities including Chris Forbes, Janey Godley and Gavin Mitchell.

Elaine C Smith said: “Life is tough and we must grab the happiness when we can. A steady stream of awfulness emerges through 24-hour news and social media but Pride of Scotland highlights the good there is in the world.

“This year’s winners don’t just give those around them a pocketful of happiness, they give them bucket-loads and that’s why we need to give them laldy and celebrate their achievements in style.”

Co-host Sanjeev Singh Kohli added: “I am thrilled to be presenting the 2023 Pride of Scotland Awards alongside Elaine. This year’s winners have truly exemplified the resilience, compassion and determination that make Scotland proud – it’s going to be a very special night indeed.”