• Author: James Coutts

    Midlothian Community Hospital Garden Volunteer Team

    Nominated by: Cyrenians

    Midlothian Hospital Garden Volunteer Team has been active for the past 10 years and has helped to create a beautiful space for people, wildlife and the environment whilst actively tackling climate change in the process. The team is a mix of people with different backgrounds which has developed into positive relationships based around nurturing others, patience, and self-belief. Over the years the team has evolved to a steady 25-30 active volunteers at any given time, with over 200 people playing their part since the project began. Within the team, it is lovely to see relationships grow naturally, just like our plants and vegetables in the hospital garden.

    John McVeigh

    Nominated by: Health-in-Mind Midlothian Team

    John has been a volunteer for Health-in-Mind for over 15 years. This has included being a walk leader and working as a cook in the café when Health-in-Mind was at the Orchard Centre in Bonnyrigg. John’s soups are the stuff of legend!  Over the years he has shown great resilience, particularly during Health-in-Mind Midlothian’s move from the Orchard Centre and during the Covid pandemic. John is very reliable, works well with others and is also easy to get along with. He shows care for the people in the walking groups and has provided first aid and equipment advice for those attending. He has a good knowledge of the natural environment and is able to pass this on to others, enabling them to appreciate nature and enjoy the benefits of being in the great outdoors.

    Neil Watson

    Nominated by: Mayfield/Lawfield/Tynewater ASC

    Neil Watson has been volunteering for around 9 years as a play worker with Mayfield, Lawfield and Tynewater After School Club. Neil has an amazing rapport with the children, who all adore him, and is a great support to the staff and club. He has dedicated hundreds of hours of his own time to help out each week, assisting during the holidays and attending holiday club trips. Neil has been very generous with his time and other resources to help keep the organisation running smoothly. He is a valued member of the team at the club and the children are always pleased to see him on a Friday afternoon.

    Josie Pople

    Nominated by: Health in Mind – Midlothian Services Manager

    Josie Pople is a volunteer peer group facilitator delivering online creative art spaces using Zoom. She also co-facilitates a creative arts and wellbeing group alongside Heath in Mind’s arts, greenspace, and active development worker. Josie has volunteered in several roles for 4 years with the organisation. Her volunteering has included co-facilitating community groups at various community venues in Midlothian. She has not been afraid to challenge where she feels groups and activities are not as effective as they could be. Josie is always thoughtful and encouraging, and has provided consistent support to other volunteers and staff members. Josie is an outstanding asset with her continued insight and positive influence.

    Shona Hart

    Nominated by: Breastfeeding Cafe, Auchendinny

    Shona Hart began volunteering at Breastfeeding’s Cafe in May 2021, a few weeks following the birth of her own baby. Shona has given a huge amount of her time to support mothers to establish breastfeeding and overcome significant challenges. She has helped more than 60 families in the past 10 months, giving several hours a month of her time during her precious maternity leave. She is warm and welcoming, offers non-judgmental support and has encouraged other new mothers to become members of the project as she demonstrates the value of community support in the promotion of health and well-being. She is so deserving of an award for her valuable input.

    Sarah Davidson

    Nominated by: Cyrerians Midlothian Community Garden

    Sarah Davidson is a volunteer at the Midlothian Community Garden. She gives her time as a Garden Buddy providing support to people who have been referred to the project because they are isolated or marginalised. Garden buddy pairs work on a range of different activities that can vary in levels of physicality and complexity. Sarah’s input with her ‘buddy’ resulted in that person developing improved confidence, self-worth, and new gardening skills/knowledge, which are all great achievements. Sarah shows calmness, patience and understanding when supporting others. She is described as a ‘lovely selfless soul’ who deserves recognition for her commitment to volunteering.

    Margaret Canning

    Nominated by: Hearing Link Scotland

    Margaret Canning has been volunteering for ten years now. Her weekly activity supporting deaf and hard of hearing people includes a variety volunteering roles. She has made a difference to many people’s lives in her quiet, unassuming way. The support she gives comes from her own lived experience of hearing loss. She meticulously prepares her sessions in advance and is genuinely interested in each and every individual she meets. Not being able to hear can affect people’s wellbeing and many of the folk Margaret works with have stopped socialising because they no longer feel part of the conversation. Hearing loss can make people vulnerable. Margaret understands this, has been there, and is proof that things can get better with good support.

    Hazel Murray

    Nominated by: NHS Lothian

    Hazel Murray has had two volunteering roles with NHS Lothian. In both roles, Hazel has made a significant weekly commitment to support vulnerable individuals and carers who are at risk of isolation. Initially she worked within the Fancy a Blether befriending project. She then helped to launch Carer Relief Companions, which helps to relieve carer stress by giving the opportunity for time away from caring responsibilities. Hazel has attended peer support and learning sessions with other  volunteers to share her experience. She also contributed to the development of NHS Lothian’s new volunteering strategy. She is always keen to raise awareness of projects and to help with recruiting new volunteers. She is a fantastic volunteer! 

    Louise Gough

    Nominated by: Friends of Saltersgate School

    Throughout lockdown Louise and her family collected surplus food from multiple locations and arranged delivery of food packages to Bright Sparks families in the local area. Although Louise had intended to step back from her role in recent months, she continues to volunteer and organise activities for members and their families. Louise facilitated Zoom support groups during lockdown, as well as organising a range of different activities for both the children and the carers involved in Bright Sparks. The team wouldn’t want to be without her and the Bright Sparks families feel the same. She is always looking for new opportunities to support families and is a very dedicated volunteer.

    Food Facts Friends, Penicuik – Mark Wells and his team

    Nominated by: Beeslack Community High School

    The Food Facts Friends team’s focus is to provide support for people experiencing food poverty. Without these volunteers the work of the organisation could not continue. Before The Pantry opens, this busy team of volunteers prepare the rota for the day, receive deliveries and stack shelves, checking dates, labels and weighing bags/boxes. They also complete paperwork, fill fridges and freezers with donated food and prepare food parcels – sometimes till 10pm at night. The volunteers have great empathy for the people that attend. They have faced many challenges since the project opened, but have continued to work together to develop their skills and support hundreds of families during the Covid recovery period.

    Gail and Owen Quin

    Nominated by: Midlothian Council

    Gail and Owen Quin from Newbattle Community Education Centre Management Committee installed, developed and maintained the community garden project to the rear of the community centre. They have given their time and expertise willingly and have been involved in a number of community events and activities such as campaigns, fund raising and open days. Over the years they have been involved in various developments and projects and have undertaken most of the work themselves, including the development of a youth space that was made possible via funding from Youth Link Scotland in 2007. Over the years Gail and Owen have worked extremely hard to make Newbattle Community Centre a better place to be for all members of the community. They make a positive contribution to others and set a great example for the whole local community.

    Juliette Paris

    Nominated by: Rosewell and District Community Council

    Juliette Paris has been integral to the recent development of a new tennis club for Rosewell. The process is ongoing and has been a huge challenge, with the amount of time dedicated by her being well beyond the call of duty. Juliette is motivated by a strong desire to make sport more accessible in the village. At present, there is little for young people to engage with in Rosewell, so her achievements will benefit all ages and abilities once the site for the club is renovated. The initiative has been awarded funding from several different sources as a result of Juliette’s input. Her commitment and enthusiasm have helped the project to get to this point and her efforts deserve to be acknowledged.

    Ros McLeish

    Nominated by: Rosewell Development Trust

    Ros McLeish volunteers every Thursday at Rosewell Development Trust’s lunch club, ensuring the room is prepared and the tables are set and ready for a warm welcome. The lunch club is a well-established feature of the local community with several older volunteers who help out. Ros fitted in straight away when she started in her role, quickly establishing a niche for herself sharing duties with other volunteers. Ros has a positive and upbeat personality and has brought a new vibrancy to the lunch club. Some members suffer from dementia and Ros is supportive and empathetic, making them feel safe and welcome. Her bubbly personality always helps to put others at ease.

    MAEDT Volunteer Team

    Nominated by: Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT)

    Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust’s volunteer team have been integral to the functioning and growth of MAEDT’s activities during the pandemic. They have created and improved the community garden, helped to set up and establish the community café, stocked up The Pantry (an affordable food project), improved community spaces by litter picking, maintained flower beds in the park and cleared spaces in the park to minimise anti-social behaviour and improve safety for everyone. MAEDT’s volunteers are kind, caring, compassionate and always dedicated to the work they do.

    Transform Project

    Nominated by: Carey Douglas, Volunteer Midlothian

    The Transform Project is for young people who need some extra support to get involved in volunteering. As part of the project, Volunteer Midlothian runs a community garden where people can try out different gardening activities and meet other young volunteers. Adult supporters are on hand to support the project. Collectively, the wonderful team of volunteers at Transform are increasing biodiversity and helping the environment by building bug hotels, using recycled materials to make raised beds, learning about composting and leaving wild areas to thrive. The garden also gives the community somewhere wonderful to sit, ponder or play.