• Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2022 – Winners

    The Midlothian Volunteer Awards are all about celebrating the amazing efforts of volunteers in Midlothian. The awards take place every year during Volunteers’ Week (from the 1-7th June) and are a great opportunity to promote some of the fabulous volunteering projects that exist in Midlothian.

    Congratulations to this year’s winners (full details here).

    Lynn Pillans

    Nominated by: Rosewell Development Trust

    Lynn Pillans is a gardening volunteer who supports various projects at The Steading and in the surrounding areas of Rosewell. Lynn welcomes new gardening volunteers and is always thinking of ways the experience can be enjoyable and inclusive for all. As a former landscape gardener, she happily passes on her knowledge to others. Lynn was instrumental in developing a sensory garden for the community with raised beds and scented/tactile planting. Other volunteers are always excited to see what ideas she comes up with. Her latest additions to The Steading include a living wall, a living picture and a very creative planting arrangement incorporating a step ladder.

    Justyna Rachowska

    Nominated by: Health In Mind, Peer Connecting Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, East and Midlothian

    Justyna Rachowska joined Peer Connecting Black and Minority Ethnic Service (Health In Mind) in 2018. She not only provided companionship and emotional support, but engaged people in their local communities, helping them to increase their confidence and find their feet. Justyna has a great understanding of cultural and language barriers. She is adaptable, passionate, motivated, helpful, empathetic, and proactive. She always has a positive attitude and is there ready to provide support in different ways. Over the years she has helped many Health in Mind clients integrate with local communities so that they can make friends and feel accepted. Her input has made a huge difference to others.

    Agnieszka Czarnecka

    Nominated by: Health In Mind, Peer Connecting Back and Minority Ethnic

    Agnieszka Czarnecka joined Peer Connecting, Black and Minority Ethnic (Health In Mind) in 2019. Since then, she has supported several different people with protected characteristics, offering emotional support, signposting them to other services and helping them to connect with others in their local community. During the pandemic she provided telephone support to people who were isolated and in need, giving her time very generously to ensure that nobody was left behind. Agnieszka is a very caring and empathetic person. Her input has helped people to feel welcome in Midlothian and she is a very valued member of the team at Health in Mind.

    Joanna Haba

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Joanna Haba has been volunteering since 2020 and is currently supporting her second family with Home Link Family Support. Joanna is bi-lingual, speaking both Polish and English, meaning that she has been able to help provide interpretation. In recent months Joanna has been assisting the family she is matched with (especially mum) to get involved in some systemic family counselling, also through Home Link. Joanna has made a significant difference to the life of this mother. As the focus of the relationship has changed over time, Joanna has worked in a very compassionate way with the mother to help her through the difficulties she has experienced.  She has shown immense commitment to this family and has been unwavering in her support for them.

    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.

    Midlothian Paths Group

    Nominated by: Midlothian Federation of Community Councils

    Midlothian Paths Group meets on a monthly basis and is co-ordinated by the Midlothian Ranger Service based at Vogrie. The volunteer group members make walking, cycling, scooting and rollerblading easier and safer for everyone. They also prune back hedges and trees, improve access and repair sections of path as necessary. Their work is greatly appreciated by everyone in Midlothian because they are helping to provide safe places that can be enjoyed by an ever-growing number of people including visitors to Midlothian. The pandemic encouraged people to spend more time outdoors, appreciating nature. The Midlothian Path Group are making this easier for everyone to do and their efforts deserve to be recognised.  

    Anne Hyatt

    Nominated by: Rosslyn Community Bowling Club

    Anne Hyatt has been involved in biodiversity projects in Roslin for the past 3-4 years and has made a tremendous impact leading and organising different initiatives. She established the Friends of Roslin Moat in conjunction with Roslin Men’s Shed and the local primary school, which led to the installation of 20 bird nesting boxes. She has also been instrumental in the development of a local community garden, working alongside the bowling club to improve the grassy area looking out into Chapel Lawns by replanting with trees, bushes and wildflowers. Anne’s calm manner and sense of humour are invaluable when working with other volunteers and she has helped to bring young and older people together in the community.

    The Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club

    Nominated by: Art Club – hosted by the Bill Russell Woodburn Youth Project

    Young people aged 8 – 14 have met weekly for around three years to coordinate the activities of Art Club, a youth-led creative project based in Woodburn, Dalkeith. They call themselves the Amazing Brains Committee and they chair their own meetings, direct their own work and take part in a huge range of activities on a regular basis. They are passionate about climate change action and have directed a range of projects including the Junior Rangers Program which ran in the Summer of 2021 for five full days. The work of the Amazing Brains committee has helped to promote a more positive view of local young people and had also shown that they can be fantastic role models.