A NEWTON Aycliffe student who has won a national award said he hopes to use it to further his community work.

Alan Strickland, 19, of Silkin Way, has been awarded a 2003 Young Leader Award by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), and the British Youth Council.

He is one of only 20 young people from around the country recognised for the exceptional contribution that they have made to community life and wider society.

The young leaders received their awards at a ceremony held at the Directory of Social Change in London.

Nominated by Jane Buckley of Changemakers, Alan's achievements included:

l Playing a key role in planning an international summer school, which united 250 young people from 30 countries.

l Showing exceptional creativity and dedication to society by developing a national youth project.

l Supporting young people's community projects in schools throughout the North-East as a peer facilitator.

In recognition of these achievements, Alan and other RSA Young Leaders will receive a programme of personal development opportunities which includes fellowship of the RSA and a tailored mentoring programme.

Alan, who is preparing to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, said: "I was really shocked to get the award and really excited.

"It is really nice to be recognised. I see it not as a thank you for all I have done, but something to show me that I need to do more.

"It has inspired me to think about how I need to do more to help people and do different things in the next couple of years.