Trusty Falkirk volunteers get just rewards

CVS Falkirk Awards 2015 Volunteer of the Year winner Jill Lauder with Provost Pat Reid
CVS Falkirk Awards 2015 Volunteer of the Year winner Jill Lauder with Provost Pat Reid

A hairdresser showed she was a cut above the rest by being voted as Falkirk ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for her work helping women affected by cancer.

The caring work of Jill Lauder (45), from Grangemouth, saw her crowned as the district’s top do-gooder at CVS Falkirk’s glittering annual awards ceremony at the Inchyra Hotel on a night of tears and laughter.

From her Lady J’s salon in Dundas Street, Jill set up the Feel Good Project, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, to provide free wigs and grooming to women who have lost their hair following treatment for the deadly disease.

Through tireless fundraising, help from all corners of the community and a trusty band of volunteers, the project has turned into more than a service for her visitors with up to 10 women dropping into the salon for a special day on the first Monday of every month for washes, trims and repairs as well as support, beauty therapy, refreshments, goody bags and vital support at a vulnerable time.

Mother-of-one Jill, a hairdresser of 17 years, said: “It is very humbling for me to receive this award but it really has been a community effort.

“The project would not have been as successful as it has been without all the help I’ve received form everyone involved. I’d like to thank them all, especially Pauline MacCloud and Nicola Skinner.”

It was CVS’ 16th annual awards ceremony to recognise the vital work volunteers and third sector organisations across the district do, with an amazing total of 561 nominations for those who give up their own free time to help others.

Among the certificates of recognition and long service awards, the other big winners on the night were:

Young Volunteer of the Year: Fraser Johnston (Communities Along the Carron Association); Sports Volunteer of the Year: Scott McLean (Falkirk Community Trust – Active Schools); Outstanding Achievement in Health and Wellbeing Award: Saltire Awards – Outstanding Achievement: Gemma Angus (Avenue Youth Programme – St Andrew’s Church); The Driving Force, Bonnybridge; Volunteer Engaging Organisation of the Year: Home-Start Falkirk West; and Lifetime Achievement Award: Madelene Hunt (Bo’ness Community Council).

Fraser Johnston (18), from Larbert, who will be studying medicine at Glasgow University this year, was recognised for playing an instrumental part in gaining local nature reserve for the Carron Dams, work with youngsters and environmental campaigning.

He said: “It was a privilege to attend the CVS awards ceremony and hear so many inspiring stories from hundreds of people who give their time so selflessly to help others.

“Volunteering has become a way of life for me for the last four years and will continue to be that way. Winning the Young Volunteer of the Year was an absolute honour and recognition I am very grateful for.

“I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone I have volunteered with over the last four years in Larbert High School, Communities Along the Carron, the Helix Project, Commonwealth games, Sportscotland and beyond for helping me to help others and sharing so many rewarding and life changing experiences.”

Chief executive of CVS Falkirk Karen Herbert said: “It was a fantastic night and volunteers of all ages attended, from schoolchildren to college students to those receiving the new 40 years’ Long Service Award.

“One look around the room proved that volunteering is not simply charity shops – volunteering plays an essential part in all areas of the community.

From sports coaching to hospital transport, helplines and conservation efforts, volunteers support their communities from within, offering help in areas not always accessible from the outside.

“Volunteers do all this, and so much more. They do not do it for the recognition – they do it because they want to help. Many of them are likely to downplay what they do, but without volunteers communities and individuals alike would suffer.

“This is why our awards ceremony is such an important event. It doesn’t just remind people of the time and energy volunteers dedicate to the community. It is an opportunity to thank volunteers for that time and energy.”