Historic Scotland has launched a national drive to recognise and celebrate the young “Heritage Heroes” of Edinburgh who give their time selflessly to protect, maintain and support the nation’s historic environment.

In conjunction with the Young Scot scheme, the agency is asking people to nominate deserving youngsters for this prestigious award, which joins 12 other categories in the annual contest that culminates in a lavish prize-giving ceremony in April.

Now in its seventh year, the Young Scot Awards celebrate the outstanding and unsung achievements of Scotland’s young people. The Awards aim to counter the often negative perception of today’s youth, and seek inspirational individuals aged eleven to 26 who have a positive difference by improving their community.

At Historic Scotland, Chief Executive Ruth Parsons said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the ‘Heritage Hero’ award again this year. Our heritage, which is known and celebrated throughout the world, helps define who we are, and forms a key part of our culture.

“It is extremely encouraging to see so many young people with a passion for Scottish history. Their enthusiasm for the stories that reveal so much about the nation’s character and identity, and their desire to share this knowledge with others, is an inspiration we can all draw hope from.”

Last year’s “Heritage Hero” winner was Jamie O’Rourke, who developed, managed and conducted history tours in Falkirk town centre. Jamie worked with youngsters aged ten to 16 to increase awareness of the town’s heritage, and used his “Ghostly Guides” service to deliver ghost walks using drama and interactive techniques to local people and foreign visitors.

The categories which join the “Heritage Hero” award range through sport and arts to health and volunteering. Three finalists in each category will be selected, and invited to attend an awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, on April 26th, when the winners will be revealed.

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive Officer at Young Scot, said the awards were a perfect opportunity to celebrate hard-working, passionate and entrepreneurial young people across Scotland.

“They provide the perfect opportunity for us to tell a huge range of positive stories about young people to the whole of Scotland,” she said. “By sharing these stories, it allows us to challenge the negative perceptions of young people and showcase the real truth about youth.”

Those wishing to nominate their own “Heritage Hero” can find full details on the Young Scot website. Nominations can be made until February 26th, 2012. You can also follow Young Scot on Facebook.

Ruth added: “We are very much looking forward to seeing the entries, which every year impress us with their selfless spirit and dedication, and breadth of imagination.

“These Awards are a unique opportunity to ensure these special qualities are deservedly recognised.”