30 Under 30: Grace Warnock

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Grace Warnock, 12, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Grace Warnock is an absolute powerhouse – she has designed and run a national campaign that has been endorsed up by the Scottish Parliament and a number of businesses, from Edinburgh Airport to Filmhouse cinema and Hibernian FC’s Easter Road Stadium; she sat around the table with Nicola Sturgeon; her story went viral on Mighty (over half a million views and counting); she met Prince William and Prince Harry; and she won numerous awards, including Young Scot award in the Health category.

Oh, and she’s also 12, and has done all of that while battling Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease.

The condition required her to often make bathroom stops when out and about, and she noticed judgmental looks she got from strangers every time she had to use the accessible toilet. Not content with just putting up with it, she decided to change things, not only for herself, but also for other people who suffer from invisible disabilities.

She designed a bespoke accessible toilet sign that includes a person in a wheelchair and a standing person both with a red heart sign, which symbolises people with invisible conditions. Grace was hoping that this sign would help people to understand that some disabilities are not obvious, and would encourage them to ‘have heart’, and not judge others without knowing their full story.

She then launched ‘Grace’s Sign’ campaign, which keeps growing from strength to strength, and Grace hopes one day her sign will become the global symbol of accessible toilets.

When she’s not campaigning to make the world a better place, Grace likes baking (she baked the most amazing cupcakes for our interview, and even decorated them with little chocolate hearts), art, table tennis, and visiting all the places that now have a Grace’s Sign.

She thinks it’s really important to stay true to yourself in everything you do, and the only thing she argues about with her mum, Judith, is fashion: Grace likes to dress preppy – midi skirts and buttoned-up shirts, and mum jokes she could be bit more adventurous with her fashion choices. Fashion aside, her mum is her biggest supporter, and it is clear that she is extremely proud of what Grace has managed to achieve, and rightly so!

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this amazing young lady – perhaps a seat at Bute House?

IN HER OWN WORDS…

What’s your proudest achievement?

Probably winning the Young Scot Award in the Health category, that was amazing! I liked the dinner! I normally don’t like beefy things, but I liked it. [Note – the menu was designed by young people, and they were serving Irn Bru beef]

My mum and I talked about it that even if I didn’t win it’s still okay, because I got this far, but when they read out my name I couldn’t believe it. At least grandma didn’t knock over her chair this time. [She did when Grace won Evening News Local Hero award last May]

What women inspire you?

A lot of people that have made a change. Emmeline Pankhurst, Lady Diana, and Rosa Parks. [Grace admits she is a great fan of Horrible Histories. A girl after my own heart]

What change would you like to see for girls and young women in Scotland in next 10 years? 

I want everybody to know that there is no difference in how people should act towards women to how they act towards men. And I want everybody to be a bit more equal. Not that everybody is the same, but for everybody to be more inclusive.

Headshot of Grace WarnockWhat can we do to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all? 

Just everybody to take part, even if it is just a small thing they do at their school or work. Everybody just do something, whether it’s big or small. Just little things that can change the world.

What 3 women (past or present, real or fictional) would you invite to your dream dinner party/picnic?

Lots of them! The three I already mentioned. And Boudicca and Joan of Arc, but I think they might be too feisty at the dinner table, bit intense. They changed the world and challenged inequality, because even though they were fighting, they showed us it wasn’t just the men who did all of that. Not every woman in their day would stay at home washing the dishes, and cleaning the floors.

I would bake them a cake, and I would get grandma to help, she is awesome at cooking! I also would have lasagna. Maybe I would bake cupcakes with frosting and without it (my grandpa doesn’t like frosting, so I always make some naked cupcakes for him), and they can decide which one they like best.

What’s your message to girls and young women in Scotland?

Try to do your best, and a small bit can go a long way. Don’t try to copy anybody, do what you can in your own way!

You can follow Grace’s Sign on Facebook here.

Pictures courtesy of Young Scot and Grace Warnock


You can see the full list of our amazing 30 Under 30 2017 finalists here, and keep a look out on the blog as we feature a different finalist every day throughout November.

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