Top honours at the Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Awards this year were shared by skills competitor of the year John O'Hara, and by Langside College and the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care for their partnership working in social care courses.
Carla Grant took schools candidate of the year for her work at Beeslack Community High. Studying for Advanced Highers while her father and two brothers were deployed to Afghanistan, Carla still found time for others, say her teachers. "As the oldest Army child in the school, she made it her duty to act as a mentor to younger pupils."
College candidate of the year was Leon Hutchison from Stevenson College Edinburgh: "an inspirational student who has overcome severe dyslexia to make huge achievements". Leon progressed from National Certificate to the Higher National Diploma course in events management and aims to go to university.
Gavin Macauley from St Aloysius' College, Glasgow, won the academic excellence award. The mathematician, scientist and linguist manages to be both brilliant and likeable - "friendly, helpful, kind, calm and funny" - says his school.
Skills candidate of the year is John O'Hara, who left school with no qualifications but decided at the age of 25 to follow his dream of becoming a hairdresser. "Coatbridge College have been tremendous," he says. "They found out I had dyslexia and have given me huge support."
But the most touching moment of the evening came when the achievements of two young students from China - where 31 Chinese universities now offer Scottish HND qualifications - were recognised.
Winners of competitions sponsored by SQA, Xianglong Chen (21) and Pinpin Lv (20) demonstrated why. After an evocative recital on the urheen by Pinpin and an accomplished speech by Xianglong, he invited his parents to stand.
"Thank you for all your support since I was born," Xianglong told them. "I love you, Mum and Dad."
School Candidate of the Year - Carla Grant, Beeslack Community High, Midlothian;
College Candidate of the Year - Leon Hutchison, Stevenson College Edinburgh;
Training Organisation Candidate of the Year - Thomas Sanderson, Loretto Care; Lifelong Learning - Doug Fairweather, Angus Council;
Academic Excellence - Gavin Macauley, St Aloysius' College, Glasgow;
Appointee of the Year - Tom Hardie, Peebles;
Skills Competitor of the Year - John O'Hara, Coatbridge College; SQA Champion - Linda Greenhill, Wigtownshire.
Innovation - The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland;
Lifelong Learning - Fife Council Adult Basic Education;
Partnership of the Year - Langside College and the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care;
International - Edinburgh's Telford College;
Pride o' Worth - John O'Hara, Coatbridge College, and Langside College and the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care.