• Author: James Coutts

    Vernon Miles

    Nominated by: Midlothian Voluntary Action

    Vernon has made his mark as a ‘litter picker’ over the past year in Bonnyrigg, inspiring and influencing others in the community to care about the environment so that everyone could enjoy it during lockdown. He only recently moved to Bonnyrigg and has shown a personal commitment to making the community a nicer, safer place for humans and for nature. During a time when many people have felt helpless and found it difficult to see beyond the pandemic, Vernon found an individually powerful way to take environmental action. He deserves to be recognised for that.

    Penicuik Community Development Trust

    Nominated by: Midlothian Council Communities and Lifelong Learning

    Since its formation, the Penicuik Community Development Trust’s volunteers have been involved in a wide range of activities that have supported social, cultural, heritage and more recently resilience activities in the local community. They have developed a diverse range of initiatives, raised funding and provided education, entertainment and training opportunities for the town’s residents. They continue to develop new initiatives, working closely in partnership with a diverse range of other local organisations, and would be a worthy winner of this year’s ‘Dedicated Service’ volunteering award.

    Jim Ralston

    Nominated by: Owen Thompson MP

    Jim has been Captain of the 1st Loanhead Boys Brigade (BB) for 12 years and has changed the lives of many Midlothian young people for the better. He has been instrumental in BB activities such as competitions, awards and fundraising in the local community and beyond. This includes Project Steadfast, a Boys Brigade charity project which led to the building of St Andrews School and Disabled Centre in Oloolua Ngong, Kenya. Jim has put his heart and soul into his role during his time with the BB.

    Maggie Palmer

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Maggie trained as a Volunteer Befriender with Home Link Family Support in late 2016 and began supporting vulnerable families at the start of 2017. The support she has given has been through home visits, when allowed, and by phone. Sometimes families have needed a good listener. At other times her input has been to encourage play and interaction with little ones, or to help with managing the specific needs of the family. Maggie listens attentively, takes her responsibilities seriously and is a dedicated volunteer who imparts great wisdom and understanding to her clients.

    David Thornton

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Davie is a long-standing volunteer in many roles. He often takes the lead with outdoor group activities including gardening and conservation, supporting others to take part. He has been one of Health in Mind’s mainstay cafe volunteers, providing home cooked meals and sharing his warmth and good humour with the people we support. He always remembers Health in Mind’s hard-working staff, making sure they have a meal kept for them when they are caught up in their work and not able to stop. Davie is a very practical man and his skills in decorating, gardening and repair are appreciated by the entire staff team at Health in Mind.

    Connect Online Volunteers

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    Connect Online is a project that matches volunteers with older people who want to learn digital skills. This might involve using a laptop, iPad, electronic tablet, smart phone or smart speaker. Volunteers support learners at groups or in a one-to-one match. Currently the Connect Online volunteers are still offering remote support via telephone, video call or Zoom group. They have made such a difference this year in keeping people connected and helping to promote digital inclusion, particularly when so many other activities have had to stop. They deserve a very big, digital, ‘thank you’!

    Jim Paterson

    Nominated by: Food Facts Friends

    Jim has been involved in Food Facts Friends (FFF) as treasurer since 2016 but has expanded his role considerably over the past four years. He applies for grants, creates promotional materials, prints posters and is the person responsible for all our social media. He helped with FFF’s move to its new premises and his hard work was extremely valuable during the very busy months of 2020, when the demands on the foodbank increased sevenfold and new sources of cash/food had to be urgently found to maintain the foodbank service.

    Green Prescribing Garden Buddies

    Nominated by: Cyrenians

    Cyrenians Green Prescribing team have been involved in buddying and befriending activity throughout the pandemic in the garden at the Midlothian Community Hospital. The Volunteer Buddies gave their time and energy to visit the garden and support others, listening to people who were struggling through a period of extreme uncertainty when everyone was finding things difficult. They have been nominated in recognition of all their hard work, energy and – most of all – their unwavering compassion and respect.

    Lauren and Josie from the Art and Craft in Wellbeing Group

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Lauren and Josie co-facilitate the ‘Art and Craft in Wellbeing’ group, which came about after Health in Mind’s wellbeing services moved online due to the pandemic. These sessions initially ran for 6 weeks but were so successful that they continued in the longer term. The group has offered activities to over 20 participants, including mindfulness sessions, felting, basket making, origami and colour theory. Lauren and Josie are interested in exploring how creativity can promote wellbeing both individually and more widely across communities and society. These two highly creative volunteers deserve recognition for the positive contribution they have made.

    Anam Cara Befriending Volunteers

    Nominated by: Anam Cara

    The Anam Cara team provided a befriending service to female participants from Anam Cara who were experiencing stress, anxiety and isolation during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. This particularly dedicated team of volunteers, many of whom have their own lived experience of mental health issues, provided telephone support and signposting services to over 30 women as part of the initiative. All those who were supported gave outstanding feedback about the service that they had received and the positive impact of volunteer input on their mental wellbeing. 

    Ageing Well Volunteers

    Nominated by: Ageing Well (Midlothian Council)

    During the pandemic the Ageing Well volunteers continued to offer outdoor activities whilst also telephoning round their regular groups to ensure everyone was coping during lockdown. They contacted over 600 Ageing Well participants, offering them advice and help as needed. They also did one-to-one walks when group activities were off and regularly called participants who were living on their own. Several participants acknowledged the dedication of these volunteers in feedback questionnaires and found their calls uplifting.

    Dalkeith Guerrilla Gardeners

    Nominated by: Dalkeith and District Community Council

    Dalkeith Guerrilla Gardeners look after neglected public spaces in and around Dalkeith by weeding, planting and maintaining them. All year round, they plant native species, construct bee-friendly beds, and ensure shrubbery and bushes can be enjoyed by the public. In doing so they have really made a difference to the landscape of Dalkeith. They encourage residents of all ages and gardening abilities to meet on a weekly basis. All they ask is that people bring along gloves and a weeding tool, if they have them, and lots of enthusiasm!

    Andrew Love

    Nominated by: CAPS Collective Advocacy

    Andrew volunteers with CAPS Collective Advocacy, using his own lived experience of mental health issues to teach others about why mental health is such an important topic. He shares his experience to broaden understandings of what it is like to live with a mental health condition and works tirelessly to campaign against stigma. What’s more, he has been involved in shaping the redesign and delivery of mental health services at both a local and national level. Andrew is an amazing person who also gives his time to the Thistle Foundation as a peer volunteer, organising and facilitating online wellbeing sessions.

    Mirabelle Maslin

    Nominated by: Roslin and Bilston Community Council

    Mirabelle has been an active community councillor in Roslin & Bilston for some 6 years. She also represents Roslin and Bilston as one of 16 councils at the Federation of Community Councils in Midlothian. In addition to being a brilliant community councillor, Mirabelle litter picks every week in the Roslin Glen Road near Powdermill. This area regrettably suffers from excessive litter and Mirabelle has become a well-known figure, regularly doing her best to clear the debris and even unblock drains.

    Holly Gibb

    Nominated by: Breastfeeding Network UK

    Holly Gibb is a trained breastfeeding peer supporter and walk leader. She founded the Breastfeeding Café in Auchendinny in 2014, creating a place for breastfeeding women to come together for support on their breastfeeding journey. When the pandemic prevented face-to-face breastfeeding support groups, Holly quickly made plans for support to instead be provided virtually. She also trained up as a Paths for All Walk Leader and was heavily involved in the creation of the Walk, Talk and Feed group, which has been a valuable source of support for women in Midlothian during lockdown.