• Author: Miriam Leighton

    Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2023: Winners Announced

    We are very excited to announce the winners of the 2023 Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony, which took place last night at Newbattle Abbey College. These incredible individuals have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their communities and to their organisations, and we are thrilled to recognise their contributions and dedication. From mentoring young people, supporting parents and providing soups for vulnerable people, and making a difference through physical activity, they represent the very best about volunteering.

    Their inspiring stories remind us that we all have the power to create a positive change, no matter how big or small it may be.

    By sharing their stories and celebrating their contributions and accomplishments, Midlothian’s volunteers inspire others to get involved and make a difference to their own communities….and their own lives. They are shining examples of what it means to be a volunteer. We hope that their passion and commitment will continue to inspire others for years to come.


    This year’s winners are:

    Equality and Diversity Award – Les Reynolds, Mayfield Community Club Tea Dance

    Service to the Community Award – Davy Naismith, The Glencorse Centre

    Befriender/Mentor of the Year Award – Alister Ballantyne, Health in Mind

    Active Volunteering and Climate Change Award – Ageing Well Volunteers, Midlothian Council

    Health & Wellbeing Award – Soup2Go – Young Volunteers, Midlothian Council Communities, Lifelong Learning and Employability

    Dedicated Service Award – Louise D’Arcy-Greig, Army Cadet Force

    Outstanding New Volunteer – I.M.P.A.C.T, Improving Midlothian Parents And Caregivers Time

    Volunteering Team of the Year Award – The Rosewell Volunteering Team and The Rosewell Gardening Club, Rosewell Development Trust

    Volunteer of the Year – Ruth Simpson, Ageing Well

    Our Saltire Summit Award winners for 2023 are:

    Kristen Dent, Aleesha Doherty, Louise Gillespie, Beth Keay, Shaun Wood, Chloe Barron, Ben McIntosh, George Brodie, Abbie O’Malley

    Volunteer Voices: A Meeting with Burns Scott

    Burns, Julianne and his wife Helen.

    This year’s theme for Volunteer’s Week is to Celebrate and Inspire, so with that in mind we visited Penicuik to interview one of Midlothian’s most dedicated volunteers. With over seventy years of experience under his belt, BURNS SCOTT is a source of inspiration to current and future volunteers in Midlothian and beyond. Here we share the highlights of his story as told to Julianne, our student on placement from Napier University. We hope that Burns’ achievements will encourage others to volunteer in their own communities too.  

    Burns Scott’s volunteering journey began after World War II, when he initially volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1946. During his time in the navy, he realised that his desire to volunteer had grown into a long-term commitment. Burns expressed to Julianne that his motivation to continue volunteering stemmed from a desire to give back to his community. This motivation drove him to take on various voluntary roles throughout his working life, and even into his retirement.

    A varied, rich and rewarding volunteer journey

    Over the years Burns came to recognise that volunteering was ultimately worth it, despite the time it took being involved in so many different voluntary roles. He has accumulated an impressive number of awards in recognition of the difference he has made. When asked about his most memorable experience, he told us how enjoyable his involvement in the annual Penicuik Hill Race had been. The event brought people together from all over Midlothian and beyond, using sport to foster community spirit and promote health and well-being. 

    The hill race also helped to raise the profile of the Penicuik area, boosting the local economy, and bringing more people into the county too. On one occasion, at the culmination of the event, Burns received a crystal bowl from all the athletes and marshals that had taken part. When his time on the Penicuik Gala Committee came to an end, he was presented with a card that had been handwritten and signed by all the competitors that year. Burns told us that he was extremely touched by the gesture and that it was one of his proudest moments, because people had publicly recognised the contribution he had made.

    Connecting with others

    Burns showing Julianne his signed card from all the hill racers.

    Volunteering encourages us to meet and connect with people from all sorts of backgrounds, and to make new friends. When asked who had made the most significant impact on his volunteering journey, Burns Scott mentioned Charlie Gordon. They were on the Penicuik Gala Committee together and according to his wife Helen, Burns and Charlie ‘would read each other’s minds’. Charlie was somebody that Burns felt he could look up to. Because of their mutual interest in giving back to their community, they inspired each other to continue volunteering. Often, it is the positive energy occurring between groups of volunteers that can lead to the biggest and most impactful gains.

    Keeping up the good work

    When asked what advice he would give to someone considering volunteering, Burns was quick to answer. ‘Put your heart and soul into it and give 100% of your effort.’ Burns and Helen emphasised that it is important for people to do something they like and not to give up, despite the challenges that can occur. Burns also observed that once people are volunteering and get stuck into a project, the ‘vibe’ rubs off on them. They become more motivated because other people around them feel the same. This in turn can result in a group of volunteers working hard together make positive changes happen for each other, and for others in their community as well.  

    Every volunteer in Midlothian deserves to be recognised for the effort they’ve made to give something back. In the run up to Volunteers’ Week 2023 and the Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony on the evening of June 1st, we hope that Burns Scott inspires new and future volunteers as much as he has inspired us at Volunteer Midlothian.

    This story was authored by Julianne Nixon.

    Volunteer Midlothian’s Rhino Mascot Visits Mauricewood Primary School

    Our Napier university student Julianne visited Mauricewood Primary School last week with Volunteer Midlothian’s Volunteering Development Worker, Magda, to tell pupils about Volunteers’ Week 2023. The pair delivered a special presentation, with all of the children at Mauricewood listening carefully to what was said and asking lots of very thoughtful questions.

    Julianne doing the presentation at Mauricewood primary.

    Julianne and Magda took time during their visit to share positive messages with the children about the importance of volunteering. They also introduced our rhino mascot to the pupils, with a short imaginary story about why the mascot has no name and why its mission is to help us celebrate volunteers who make a difference in Midlothian.

    The pupils were encouraged to consider what volunteers do within their communities and the benefits that this can bring. Julianne went on to explain the rules for our ongoing ‘Name the Mascot’ competition, which runs from 15th May – 1st June 2023. Children living in Midlothian are allowed to name the rhino, then on the 1st of June the winning entry will be chosen by guests at our annual Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony. The winning child will receive a certificate, a rhino toy of their own, and £100 for their school or after school club to spend on new resources.

    The pupils of Mauricewood Primary School came up with some great ideas for the rhino during our visit. Names such as ‘Noah’, ‘Hamish’ and ‘Isla’ were among the many suggestions made. We are looking forward to finding out what other entries will be submitted by pupils from other schools and afterschool clubs in Midlothian.

    Good luck Mauricewood, as well as all the other schools and children taking part!

    Midlothian Volunteers’ Week 2023 Mascot Rhino Competition

    What’s my name?

    Please send us your suggested name for our mascot rhino. The winner will receive £100, their own cuddly toy rhino and a winner’s certificate. The deadline for applications is Thursday 1st June 2023 at 12 p.m.

    Good luck!

    Competition guidelines:

    • Any child who attends primary school or after school club in Midlothian can enter.
    • Primary school teachers or club leaders can also enter on behalf of their whole class or after school group, provided the children have chosen the name.
    • There should be only one entry per child or class.
    • If there is a whole class or club entry, individual children from that class can still apply once each.
    • The winner will be announced via Twitter on the evening of 1st June 2023.
    • The school will be contacted in the week beginning Monday 5th June to arrange delivery of the prizes.
    • Midlothian Advertiser may also be invited to cover the story in local media.

    Enter the Competition

    reCAPTCHA is required.

    Community Climate Action Project

    Midlothian Council has set a target of reaching Net Zero by 2030. We are living in a Climate Emergency and it’s imperative that we all take a role, big or small, in tackling the climate crisis. Climate action activities are already taking place across Midlothian. However, there are many people being left out of the climate conversation.

    To support community-led climate action, MVA managed a Community Climate Action Project from March 2022 to February 2023. The project was funded through a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery’s Together For Our Planet programme. All projects funded by this programme had to be focused on developing a community-led climate action project.

    The two criteria chosen from the programme list that this project set out  to achieve were:

    • Supporting the development of longer-term climate action within communities
    • Celebrating the importance of community-led climate action and encouraging more people to get involved

    Through engagement with the Federation of Community Councils, two communities were selected for the research – Damhead, a rural community, and Penicuik, an urban community. Discussions also took place with the relevant Community Councils, and they were in support of this project being carried out in their communities. The research was to be carried out by consultants, and a procurement process took place in summer 2022. A volunteer representative from each community supported interviewing applicants. The decision on who to appoint was made by the community representatives, with help from MVA.

    SKS Scotland were chosen to complete the research. The research began in September 2022 and was completed in February 2023.

    The outcome of this research was to form a report for each community that included:

    • A community climate action plan
    • Assessment of what a 20-minute neighbourhood means for each community
    • Summaries of discussions from community engagement sessions
    • Future funding opportunities

    The aim for this project was to include individuals from all sections of the two communities and to offer them a space to discuss what the climate crisis means to them on a local level and how they can tackle it together. This was facilitated through a stakeholder survey, drop-in sessions in the communities, and online workshops, that took place over the course of four months.

    This research helped inform the action plans and allowed the communities to prioritise activities under five main themes:

    • Energy use
    • Active and sustainable travel
    • Re-use, recycling and upcycling
    • Local food and food waste
    • Biodiversity and improving local spaces.

    The project was completed in February 2023, and two reports were delivered to the communities for them to take forward.

    Thank you to the communities for their engagement and enthusiasm throughout the project, and to SKS Scotland for delivering the reports.

    Abbie O’Malley (Brownies)

    Nominated by: Brownies

    Impressed by the amount of time Abbie has committed to helping others.  Her determination to volunteer, positive attitude and compassion has seen her overcome so many of her own challenges.  A true inspiration.

    George Brodie (Bonnyrigg Scouts)

    Nominated by: Bonnyrigg Scouts

    With an impressive list of volunteering activities and responsibilities from such a young age, George is an exceptional individual and is setting an excellent example for others. 

    Ben McIntosh (Beeslack CHS Dolphins)

    Nominated by: Beeslack CHS Dolphins

    The judging panel were particularly impressed by that at just 17 years old, Ben already has 6 years of volunteering experience!  He showed true dedication and commitment throughout Covid restrictions where additional planning and safety measures needed implemented.  His role in helping others to overcome their fears, reassuring them and putting them at ease seems to be a natural talent to Ben.

    Chloe Barron (Beeslack CHS Dolphins)

    Nominated by: Beeslack CHS Dolphins

    The judges were struck by Chloe’s mature, kind and caring nature.  She has shown exceptional dedication to volunteering, continuing to do so even after becoming a qualified swimming teacher.  Such an inspiration!

    Shaun Wood (Volunteer Midlothian)

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    Shaun is a true role model.  With his welcoming and friendly nature, encouraging new volunteers to join the Transform project, his ‘can do’ attitude and using his own initiative sets an excellent example to others.   

    Beth Keay (Rosewell Development Trust)

    Nominated by: Rosewell Development Trust

    What a commitment to volunteering!!  Having been actively involved with Girlguiding since 7, and officially volunteering from 10 years old, Beth has shown spectacular commitment.  The judges were particularly impressed by Beth’s random acts of kindness and genuine compassion for others.

    Louise Gillespie (Rosewell Development Trust)

    Nominated by: Rosewell Development Trust

    A phenomonal 8 years of volunteering shows true commitment and reliability.  Louise doesn’t let her own challenges get in the way of her dedication to helping others through her volunteering.  An amazing individual and clearly a highly valued team member at Penicuik Storehouse.

    Aleesha Doherty (Lasswade High School)

    Nominated by: Lasswade High School

    Amazed by the level of commitment throughout such a busy time of studying for exams. The early morning commitment twice a week to breakfast club, before even beginning the school day, is truly commendable, alongside her ability to promote and inspire younger learners in STEM subjects.

    Kristen Dent (Volunteer Midlothian)

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian Transform

    An inspiration.  Kristen has overcome personal barriers with real determination and drive.  Her commitment to stepping outside her comfort zone to give volunteering a try has progressed so much in a short space of time, where she is now fully engaged in volunteering and having a real impact on the community as a whole.

    Les Reynolds (Mayfield Community Club)

    Nominated by: Mayfield Community Club Tea Dance

    Les, we highly value your involvement in supporting and engaging people into their local community. You are a passionate, motivated, helpful and proactive individual. We appreciate your commitment to the Mayfield Community Club Tea Dance which has become an important event in the lives of 100 isolated people in the community. The work that you have done to evolve the project and make it accessible to others is wonderful.