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Taxi driver Jim McLaren                                                           Published 03 September 2018

Jim’s our Citizen of the Year

By Democrat reporter

A taxi driver who left his job to set up a charity for vulnerable people has been named as West Dunbartonshire’s Citizen of the Year.

Jim McLaren, from Clydebank, left his job last year and created the Golden Friendship club which offers over 60s, those with mental or physical difficulties, those in care homes, and children and  families who have a child with physical or mental difficulties the opportunity to take part in a range of activities.

Members of the club have described it as a “lifeline” and say Jim has “made people smile again.”

Jim was given the honour at the annual Provost Civic Awards at Clydebank Town Hall on Friday evening.

He had earlier been named the 2018 Community/Voluntary Individual champion.

After being announced as the Citizen of the Year, he said: “It is an absolute honour to receive this award, but this is about much more than me. There is no ‘i’ in team and this award is for everybody who has helped with the Golden Friendship club, or any other local club in their community.

“I want to say a special thank you to Kevin Crawford from Clydebank Disability Group who has been a massive source of encouragement and support when setting up the club.

“Recently, we sponsored a football club for players with disabilities and we will continue to help these community groups. I want to say to anyone out there, if you need anything at all please get in touch.”

Jim received a flood of nominations from members of the community who had been touched by his hard work and dedication.

They told of fun at parties, karaoke, bingo, Christmas dinners and trips to the pantomime and farm parks.

Provost William Hendrie, who hosted the event, said: “There were so many worthy and inspirational candidates but the judging panel and I were bowled over by Jim’s dedication and selflessness.

“He demonstrates an inspirational level of commitment to improving the lives of so many people here in West Dunbartonshire and we were blown away by the stories his community told about him.”

The awards, run in partnership with the Wheatley Group, also saw eight-year-old Harry Crossan named as Youth Champion after he saved his two-year-old sister from choking on a chocolate button.

Dumbarton District MS Group was named Community/Voluntary Team Champions for 50 years of support, while Highland Dancer Dana Louise Dolan was Arts and Culture Champion.

Andy Gallagher was named as Sports Champion for running his Disability Futsal Club in Clydebank, which allows people with disabilities to meet up to play futsal.

Provost Hendrie added: “This year we received a record number of nominations from our residents.

“Everyone on our shortlist has done something fantastic within our community and demonstrated values and commitment that are an inspiration to us all.

“I’m delighted I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many of you and properly recognise your effort and hard work to better West Dunbartonshire. It’s one of the most humbling events in my role as Provost and I want to thank you all for the dedication, time, and commitment you have invested in our local community.”

The winners’ names will be displayed at Clydebank Town Hall, and will all be guests of the Provost at the Queen’s annual garden party at Holyrood in July.

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