By Lauren Crooks
A range of big-hearted residents who regularly go the extra mile for their community have been picked as finalists for the upcoming Provost’s Civic Awards.
Nominations for the five categories were received from grateful friends, colleagues, neighbours and family members who wanted to highlight the person or group for their significant contribution.
After much deliberation, the judging panel have chosen their finalists, with each one having worked hard to improve the area and the lives of the people who live in West Dunbartonshire.
They include committed fundraisers and volunteers, dedicated sports people and good Samaritans.
The finalists will each receive a letter from Provost William Hendrie, pictured right, with overall winners announced via video content. Provost Hendrie will also select one overall winner who will be named West Dunbartonshire’s Citizen of the Year.
All winners will later be invited to attend a physically-distanced presentation to receive their award.
The shortlist is as follows:
Arts and Culture Champion
Skylark IX volunteer Jade West hasn’t let lockdown get in the way of sharing the Dunkirk vessel’s story, she adapted to offer alternative ways to engage with the community from online boatbuilding tutorials with recovering addicts, to creating short films and the Skylark IX patchwork quilt; 15-year-old singer and piper Mark Morrison uses his talents to do good by raising money for a huge number of worthy causes and putting on impromptu concerts at care homes and sheltered housing complexes to bring cheer to the most isolated residents during lockdown; Lottie Francis uses the arts to make a difference, and is on a mission to make the arts more accessible for all. During lockdown, she’s run art hubs with free supplies, affordable ballet lessons, drama workshops for young people and even zoom dance classes with BSL interpreters.
The Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland organisation is dedicated to bringing together older adults to talk about and remember sport. They provide social and physical activities, too in a bid to increase fun, friendship and increased well-being; former Vale FC player turned coach Ross Young spends his free time training the disability football team and the disability Futsal Club he helped set up, making a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable residents in our area; footballer Rebecca McAllister started her career at Mini Kickers in the Meadow Centre in Dumbarton but her drive and determination have seen her follow a path to success, now playing for Celtic FC and the Scotland U-19 women’s national squad.
Community/Voluntary Champions Team
Old Kilpatrick Food Parcels started off as an unofficial shopping and prescription service from kind-hearted Maureen and Gordon Cummings to help out during lockdown, and in the past eight months has developed into a lifeline for many residents who need support with food; the West Dunbartonshire Youth Council champions the voices of local young people through their workshops, training, consultations and campaigns to ensure issues that are important to them are heard and raised with partners and decision makers; the Children’s Hearing System West Dunbartonshire Area Support Team is made up on volunteers who give up their free time and expertise to ensure the most vulnerable infants, children and young people, as well as their families, are cared for and protected.
Community/Voluntary Champion individual
Council joiner Drew Smith, pictured above, has spent lockdown breaking the stigma around male mental health after a chance encounter saw him save a man from the brink of suicide and then strike up a friendship as he recovers; Julie & Davie McGowan have provided supported lodging placements for the past 23 years, welcoming over 45 young care leavers into their home to help them bridge the gap between care and independence, showing them warmth, compassion and consistency and helping them onto a positive pathway for their future; retired teacher Kathleen Smith goes above and beyond in her role at Bellsmyre Digital to ensure a wide range of opportunities are available to improve the lives of vulnerable and isolated residents including IT training, befriending service, online classes and a digital community hub via social media.
Hayley Paku has been an advocate for change in West Dunbartonshire, both as a member of the Scottish youth parliament and as chair of the West Dunbartonshire youth council, and her enthusiasm and passion has empowered many young people to enact change in the community; Our Lady & St Patrick’s pupil Alex Grace has worked tirelessly to narrow the poverty and achievement gap within the school, setting up a new Breakfast Club for pupils before school, delivering snacks to the most vulnerable pupils at break times, and running a food drive for donations to local foodbanks; Mollie-rose Shields was determined to bring some cheer during lockdown so used her own money to buy Easter eggs which she delivered to residents in her community. When her kindness was noticed by businesses including Asda and Specsavers, they donated eggs, meaning Mollie-rose, who has Aspergers Syndrome, was able to distribute more than 600 eggs in total.
Provost Hendrie said: “I am so thankful to our residents who took the time to highlight these exceptional people for an award. Every nomination we received was worthy of recognition and praise for their hard work, which made choosing these finalists a very difficult task. We felt the group chosen embodied the spirit of community, with each person going above and beyond to help. Their selflessness and kindness will no doubt have made a huge difference to the lives of many in our communities during what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging years in recent history. It is their commitment, devotion and drive which gives the rest of us hope and reminds us how important it is to look out for one another.”