A VOLUNTEER has been recognised for his contribution to help people from all walks of life access regular exercise in Dunblane – including vulnerable members of the community.
Mike has been recognised as the winner of Dementia Friendly Walking Volunteer of the Year at Paths for All’s Volunteer Awards 2022.
The 70-year-old is a Health Walk volunteer with Active Stirling -a sports and leisure charitable trust- and has been dedicated to keeping the community active for over seven years.
Mike carries out a weekly health walk welcoming and accommodating people from all walks of life – and regardless of individual requirements he is always the first to say we can accommodate.
After retiring six years ago, Mike wanted to give back to the community and his motivation was strengthened after he saw the direct positive changes walking can have when a close friend living with dementia joined.
Mike said: “Coming together for a weekly walk can have such profound effect on someone’s life.
“Living with dementia can be lonely so it was important and from this we were focused on making the group as diverse and inclusive as possible ensuring everyone felt comfortable to come together and socialise.
“It’s brilliant to be recognised for this award and is a testament to the hard work of the team of walkers and five walk leaders that all help to make the walks such success with Active Stirling. I’m also proud to be contribution to Dunblane being recognised as the second most dementia friendly town in Scotland.”
The Stirling man was commended at the awards ceremony which returned to an in-person event after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mike was among 11 different winners at the 13th annual Volunteer Awards that highlighted the outstanding work carried out by volunteers across the country.
Laura Taylor, Physical Activity Inclusion Officer, said: “Active Stirling would like to congratulate Mike on winning this prestigious award. It’s recognition for the efforts and commitment he’s shown over the past 7 years. We would like to thank him and all the other walk leaders who continue to deliver and support our weekly walks in the local communities within the Stirling area.”
The ceremony was held in the Scottish Parliament building on 28 September 2022 and was hosted by BBC Scotland’s Fiona Stalker, and was sponsored by Paul MacLennan MSP.
Public Health Minister, Maree Todd has championed the awards, she said: “Encouraging and supporting people in Scotland to walk and wheel is a key part of our vision of a country where more people are more active more often.
“A huge number of highly motivated and skilled people are helping us deliver this vision, not least the passionate and dedicated volunteers who do so much to help others overcome challenges to participation.
“They are an inspiration and I am delighted that their contribution is being recognised by Paths for All in these Awards.”
The sponsoring MSP, Paul McLennan has commended the work of the volunteers, he said: “My congratulations go the inspiring group of volunteers awarded this evening.
“The range of talent across the country is extremely impressive, and this is reflected in the passion of all the volunteers towards supporting health, wellbeing, social inclusion and the many other benefits of getting out and about.
“Scotland’s outdoors are stunning and varied. My own patch, East Lothian, has stunning coastlines a few miles away from the rolling Lammermuir hills. It’s brilliant to know that across all of Scotland’s diverse outdoor spaces there are people like the volunteers recognised this evening who are working hard to make those spaces accessible and inclusive to all who live here.
“I’d like to commend the work of the volunteers and the team at Paths for All for going above and beyond to promote active travel and leisure. I look forward to seeing what the next year brings!”
Paths for All is a national charity that champions everyday walking for a happier, healthier, greener Scotland.
It manages a range of grant funds that support projects aiming to increase participation in walking, active travel, and to improve community paths for travel and recreation.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Paths for All, said: “Individuals like Mike represent exactly why we host the award ceremony every year.
“Giving your time and energy to a cause without financial reward – may seem like a big ask but our volunteers continually go above and beyond in local communities across Scotland and never fail to make it look effortless. Even though we all know an immense amount of work goes on behind the scenes.
“The work carried out by volunteers is directly improving the nation’s physical, mental and social health, reducing social isolation and loneliness and helping people make more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.
“This year we returned to an in-person event at Holyrood. It has been brilliant socialising with our amazing volunteers and to hear first-hand about the invaluable contributions they have been making.
“Our volunteers’ stories are always inspiring – and this year seems that little more exceptional knowing how many challenges have been faced along the way. Thank you to everyone for their efforts and ongoing dedication.”
Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative to improve the mental, social and physical health of the country.
The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.
To find out more which Health Walks you can join in Stirling, visit: www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder
A full list of Volunteer Award winners 2022 can be found on Paths for All’s website: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/