AN APP to help those who struggle socially has taken its inventor to the finals of a prestigious award ceremony.

Darlington College student Olivia Reynolds created Socialmoda as a “virtual friend” for those who have problems socialising.

The 17-year-old, who is chronically shy, said: “If you haven’t got a human friend then you can have a virtual one.

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“I have struggled with shyness since primary school and being at Darlington College has really helped me socially and made my family very proud.

“I am a bit nervous about the awards ceremony but excited too and looking forward to going with my dad Peter and step-mum Kirsty.”

The app, developed with the help of tutors at the college, offers advice and support, boasts voice synthesis and an interactive mood board.

Miss Reynolds, who studies system support and networking, has now secured a place in the finals of the Federation of Small Businesses Student Awards, due to be staged on Thursday.

Darlington College enterprise tutor Josh Spears said: “It is great to see Olivia using her skills to such good effect in designing an app to help others deal with an area she feels passionately about.

“Even reaching the final of this prestigious contest is an amazing achievement and recognition she thoroughly deserves.”