FIFTEEN young people have been awarded scholarships to go to the United Kingdom to improve their English skills and to learn about British life and culture. The 'Visit Britain English Scholarship Scheme 1995-96' was jointly organised by the British Council, the Association of Recognised English Language Services and the British Tourist Authority. The scholarships went to four young business executives, two travel agency staff, a hotel employee, a blind youth, a 1995 Courtesy Campaign Hong Kong ambassador, a journalist, a nurse and three British Council students. Each of the winners was awarded a four-week English course at a top language school in the UK next year, a return air ticket from British Airways and accommodation with a British family. At the award-presentation ceremony held at the British Council Hall recently, Mr Rod Pryde, the director of the English Language Centre at the British Council, said the language schools in Britain were very supportive of the scheme. 'I've spoken to school principals who were in Hong Kong recently and found that they were more than willing to offer free places to our scholars,' he said. 'They all expressed a strong interest in the scheme, and a few of them asked if we could initiate more awards in the future. I have been greatly encouraged by their interest and enthusiasm.' Apart from improving their English skills and strengthening the link between Hong Kong and Britain, the winners will also act as ambassadors for the territory. One of the winners in the young business executive category, Venessa Koh Yik-tzien, an audit supervisor, plans to do her course at the London School of English in February or March. Miss Koh, 26, said she was grateful to her boss, who encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. 'I am very happy that I have a chance to interact with the British. I'm sure it will help improve my English,' said Ms Koh. Another winner, Lai Chi-ho, 17, plans to go to the Mayflower College of English in Devon between September and October next year. Chi-ho is a Form Five science student at Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. Winning the scholarship is a dream come true for him. He said he applied for the scholarship just to get some experience and give himself a challenge. 'Fortunately, I managed to stay calm during the interview although it was conducted by a foreigner,' said Chi-ho, adding that the British Council courses he had taken was a big help.