DEVASTATED by the death of her mother and struggling with unemployment and mental health issues, a Kelty woman has turned her life around and picked up a prestigious hospitality award.

Stacey Smith was crowned a winner in front of almost 500 people in London on Friday night after bouncing back from adversity to succeed in her chosen career.

She received the Fiona Colley Special Award, which rewards those who have overcome challenges preventing them finding employment, at the Springboard Awards for Excellence.

After the untimely death of her mum and difficulties finding a job, Stacey has now graduated from the Diageo Learning for Life six-weeks training programme and is working at a Wetherspoon's pub where she's set on progressing to a supervisor level.

She said: "The programme helped me more than anyone will ever know.

"Diageo and Springboard gave me the qualifications and practical skills needed to become successful in the hospitality sector and winning the Fiona Colley Special Award is the icing on the cake.”

Stacey will also receive a tailored scholarship, which includes additional support, work experience and a study trip.

Since its launch in 2014, almost 1,200 unemployed people across Scotland have completed the drink firm's Learning for Life programme, with 83 per cent of graduates going on to further training or employment and 78 per cent successfully securing permanent roles in the hospitality sector.

It provides unemployed people with coaching, core employability skills and specialist training, opening the door to a wide range of career opportunities in the hospitality industry.

Two other graduates were in the running for the award and Inga McVicar, of Springboard, said: "The Springboard charity’s delivery of the Learning for Life courses was directly inspired by the work of our much-missed friend and colleague Fiona Colley, so it is especially fitting that this award has specifically recognised Stacey’s journey.

"Fiona would be very proud of them and their achievements, and would be delighted that her legacy of working to provide training, support and career opportunities in the hospitality sector for unemployed people continues.”