Midlothian volunteers awarded
Local volunteers were recognised at this year’s Midlothian Volunteer Awards, held remotely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The winners of the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards were as follows: Outstanding New Volunteer- Heather Mortimore from Food Facts Friends: Befriender/Mentor of the Year- The Connect Project Volunteers from Volunteer Midlothian; Active Volunteering- Chris Boyle and Ricky Lloyd of Dalkeith Rugby Football Club; Health and Wellbeing Award- The Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance; Dedicated Service- Colette Pye from Mayfield and District Breastfeeding Support Group; Covid-19 Community Award- The Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club; Volunteer Manager of the Year- Naomi Knights from the Connect Project at Volunteer Midlothian; Saltire Summit Award- Kyle Anderson, Eva Hesketh-Laird, Louise Gillespie, Melissa Reidie, Samantha Gough; Volunteer of the Year- Joseph Burke of Health in Mind; Volunteering Team of the Year- Penicuik Ambassadors.
Chris Boyle of Dalkeith Rugby Club, joint winner of the Active Volunteering Award, said: "A massive thank you for this award from Ricky and me. There's so much fantastic volunteering going on across Midlothian. It's been great to see kids back playing rugby and a privilege to be part of it at Dalkeith Rugby Club. Thanks to everyone that makes it possible.”
Julie Hesketh Laird, mum of Eva Hesketh-Laird, who won the Saltire Summit Award for volunteering at the Glencorse Centre and Penicuik Storehouse, said: “I'm proud of my girl for her contribution to the Penicuik community. And of all the young volunteer winners this year, for their outstanding commitments to their own Midlothian communities.”
Joseph Burke, Volunteer of the Year 2021 for his volunteering with local mental health charity, Health in Mind said: “I'm humbled by this. Thanks so much to all at Health in Mind and the inspirational Emma Young in particular, for her support and guidance during the year!”
Lesley Kelly, chief officer of Volunteer Midlothian, said: “Despite the challenges and difficulties posed by Covid-19, we have rallied together and seen a huge outpouring of generosity and community spirit in response to the pandemic.”
She added: "This has been embodied in many ways, not least through a remarkable increase in the numbers of people volunteering across Midlothian and beyond.
"This year's Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony was about recognising the amazing efforts of all those volunteers who have become, or who have remained, active in their communities over the past two years.
"We also wanted to remember pre-existing volunteers that had been prevented from continuing because of the pandemic.”
As with previous years, winners of each category will receive a personalised glass engraved trophy. This year, all nominees will also receive a gift in the form of a gold embossed certificate and a £20 voucher for Pathedible, a community run enterprise which distributes fresh fruit and veg and locally made food products throughout Midlothian every Thursday from Pathhead Village Hall.
Councillor Debbi McCall, Midlothian Council's Champion for Volunteering, said: “We have seen a significant shift to volunteering during the pandemic, with many of our services in Midlothian having to switch to online or telephone-based provision at short notice. It hasn’t been easy, but Midlothian’s volunteers have done themselves proud and have demonstrated - yet again - that volunteering makes for healthier, safer and more connected communities.
"This year, the theme for Volunteers' Week was ‘A time to say thanks’ and I am sure you’ll agree that there couldn’t have been a more fitting sentiment.
"During an exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around Midlothian have taken the time to volunteer and have made a huge difference to people and their communities, just as they do every year.
"Despite the restrictions coronavirus has placed on our daily lives, volunteers and charities have stepped up their activities through several lockdowns and new waves of restrictions to support people, their communities and local environments. For this, they deserve to be applauded.
"The work of volunteers is often unseen and unrecognised, visible only through the incredible impact that it has on the lives of others.
"The coronavirus pandemic has rightly raised the profile of volunteering and more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by volunteers across Scotland.”