CVS Falkirk 2021 Volunteer Awards winners announced as 'Herculean' pandemic efforts earn praise
Falkirk district residents who have sacrificed their own time to make others’ lives easier amid the pandemic have been formally recognised and rewarded.
The winners of CVS Falkirk’s 2021 Volunteer Awards were announced during an online ceremony arranged to pay homage to all those who have gone above and beyond to support communities and individuals in need.
Lynne Boslem, of Tamfourhill Community Hub, was named Volunteer of the Year during last week's virtual event, while Young Volunteer of the Year went to Forth Valley Girlguiding’s Caitlyn Ross for her work in the Carron area.
The Innovative Volunteer Award was picked up by the Code Red group from Denny High School, as Lesley Smith, who supports the Royal Voluntary Service in Forth Valley, collected the Covid Volunteer Award.
The Panel’s Choice gong was awarded to Laura Stewart, Forth Valley Sensory Centre’s Talk and Sign group leader.
An independent panel was given the tough task of sifting through several selfless acts in order to select this year’s winners among a host of “outstanding nominations”.
The Volunteer of the Year Award celebrates those who have gone over and above to help people and their communities by making a real difference and lasting impression.
Ms Boslem said: “Thanks to those who decided to put my name in and keep it a secret.
"Thank you for the award, but I would like to say I don’t do it all by myself – I have lots of help, from Shona, Laraine, Anne, Louise, Gary, Scott. It’s appreciated but so are all of them.”
Ms Ross, meanwhile, gave her time and effort to not only Girlguiding Carron Division but also Forth Valley Disability Sport, Falkirk Community Trust, Active Stirling, Clackmannanshire Council, Braveheart, Scottish Athletics, Arion Swimming Club, Scottish Disability Sport and Forth Valley Flyers.
The Young Volunteer of the Year winner was described by one of her nominators as “always happy to help out wherever she can and help others achieve to the best of their ability” and a “happy, cheerful and friendly person who is welcoming to all”.
She said: “I would like to say thank you to the people who nominated me because I wasn’t expecting it and to everyone who lets me volunteer with them.
“Most importantly, to all my wee Brownies out there – keep it up! I know it’s been a year of lockdown, but I’ll be back soon.”
Denny High’s Code Red team were rewarded for their creativity after successfully tackling the “stigma” surrounding period poverty.
During lockdown, the new student-led group ensured that pupils had access to period products and information by utilising their strong digital skills to develop an order service.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve made a big difference with Code Red, we think.
“Throughout this whole year, we’ve been challenging the stigma around periods and period poverty.
“We just want to thank Ms Dickson and the rest of the staff for helping us build our confidence and talk about such an important subject.”
Ms Smith, Covid Volunteer Award recipient and Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) member, was recognised for the lifeline work she has provided to Falkirk communities throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Described as “the first person you think of for any task”, her dedication and connection to the people she supports was also highlighted – including a time she helped a man to pick apples from his tree and make jam to distribute to other RVS clients.
Ms Smith said: “Obviously I’d like to thank the Royal Voluntary Service because without their help I’d never have been allowed to do this.
“They’ve been an absolute pleasure to work with – especially Martin Kenny, my manager, and Laura Eales, who’s been a great support. Thank you so much, I so appreciate this.”
The Panel’s Choice title was handed over to the individual the judges felt stood out across multiple categories.
Ms Stewart was chosen as the most suitable winner, having set up maintained a group for Forth Valley Sensory Centre users to practise sign language during lockdown.
She said: “Thanks to Caroline, Linsey, Martin and Jacquie who work here at the centre, to the Talk and Sign group and everybody involved with that.
“Without everyone here at the centre, I wouldn’t be here. They do a fabulous job too.
“If anyone wants to get involved, either as a volunteer or as a centre user, speak to them – whatever you want to do, it’s a fabulous place to be.”
A CVS Falkirk spokeswoman said: “In a year that will be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic, we are honoured to have seen the Herculean efforts that allowed for our most vulnerable Falkirk residents to stay home and stay safe, without worrying that they would be left without essentials like food or medication.
“The volunteering and helping activities did more than meeting basic needs, though; the collective community effort was an outpouring of care and concern for our neighbours in their time of need that was felt by all – even from behind a mask, from the other side of the garden gate, or on the other end of the phone.
“This is the role of the volunteer, there is something very special about choosing to do something to help others that transcends the tasks that you might complete, or the hours that you put in – and the residents of the Falkirk area have buckets of it!
“We were so moved by the submissions this year. Congratulations to our winners and all our nominees. You have done wonderful things and Falkirk is a better place because of you.
“Finally, we must once again say thank you to all of our local volunteers. We see you and we appreciate you.”
The awards were sponsored by local businesses across the Falkirk area who also donated the winners’ prizes.
These were: The Cotton House in Bonnybridge, The Corbie Inn in Bo’ness, Sanam Tandoori in Falkirk, Gambero Rosso in Bainsford and Mango in Longcroft.