A BRAVE teenager from Kilwinning – who was saved from cancer by a stem cell transplant – stepped up on stage to make an emotional speech after the toughest year of her life.

Natalie Smith, 19, was chosen as VIP starter for Race for Life Pretty Muddy Glasgow, a 5K mud splattered obstacle course to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.

Celtic superfan Natalie, who lost her own dad to the devastating disease, sounded the start horn to kick off the event on September 9 on what would have been her dad’s birthday.

Her dad Kevin Smith was 36 when he died from skin cancer on Christmas Day 2015.

And just 16 months after losing her dad, Natalie was told she had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – a cancer of the white blood cells.

But Natalie, a former media student at the City of Glasgow College, will forever be thankful to her mum Lorna Calderwood who was a near perfect match and donated the stem cells which have given her a second shot at life.

Now cancer free, Natalie was determined to cheer on thousands of Scots taking part.

Natalie said: “I felt so honoured to be asked to start Race for Life Pretty Muddy Glasgow.

“Today would have been my dad’s birthday which makes being here today extra special.

“It broke my heart when I lost dad to cancer and I was frightened when just 16 months later I found myself facing my own battle with the disease.

“I was 18 and as I lost my hair day by day my confidence fell along with it. I plucked up the courage to shave my hair off instead of let chemotherapy take it. The people I love stood by me even in the darkest of days helping turn negatives in to positives. There are so many things I want to do to make up for lost time.”

Race for Life ’s event manager Lauren Roberston said: “I want to say a huge thank you to Natalie and to everyone who took part.”