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
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.