Introducing Sandy’s Superhero Award Winners!
Each year, CTSI nominates one or two volunteers who has stood out from the rest. These individuals not only embodied the values of volunteering but went even further to become an example for others to follow. The winners are people who represent the very best of Clackmannanshire, as the Wee County’s biggest hero(s). They are awarded the Sandy Award, who Sandy the Squirrel believes is the community’s hero.
However, this past year has been one unlike any other. It has pushed many of us to our own limits, and still, volunteers came forward in their droves to help their communities. In a show of community spirit not seen since the Second World War, Clackmannanshire had not one or two heroes working in solitude, but many from across the County were all helping the bushy tailed mascot to support the community.
With this premise, CTSI made the decision to award every single nominee the Sandy’s Superhero Award. As they have all been Sandy’s Superheroes! Below are their stories:
- Rosemary Fletcher is a tireless volunteer in support of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) in Forth Valley. Her main role was that of Hospitals Coordinator where she organised an army of volunteers undertaking tasks within Forth Valley Royal and three other Community Hospitals. However, more recently she has undertaken the role of overall coordinator of the various streams of volunteering activities ran by RSVP Forth Valley such as volunteering in schools, knitting and walking groups. In addition, Rosemary is a very active member of Volunteering Matters-RSVP Steering Group who meet to discuss future developments including enhancing RSVP’s profile locally. Although a volunteer, Rosemary is also a part of Volunteering Matters Scotland & Northeast England staff team, actively helping when an extra pair of hands are needed. Rosemary is not only a true advocate for volunteering and a valued member of Volunteering Matters, but she is an example for others to look up to. Rosemary, THANK YOU!
- They say all good things come in threes, well, at the Love in a Box Clackmannanshire, joy to hundreds for hundreds of children have come from four amazing ladies who have won the hearts of many in the local community. Margaret Douglas, Lynsay Hill, Victoria Struthers and Amanda Smith have all earned their Sandy Superheroes certificates, for giving Christmas gifts to children who would otherwise go through the festive season with nothing to open. Their operation has grown over the last nine years to incorporate referral processes for every nursery, primary and high school in the Clackmannanshire, as well as through the Child Care Services at the Council. In the last year, this amounted to 650 children across the Wee County, nonetheless every child and family referred to Love in a Box were accommodated. Margaret, Lynsay, Victoria and Amanda have earned the respect and gratitude of so many, so thank you for your tireless work in continuing to make Christmas a magical time for the Wee County’s children!
- The Gate has long been a fixture of Clackmannanshire’s vibrant Third Sector, having developed a large operation of various specialisms that are tailored to the local community. One of the newest has been The Meals at The Gate, where the team provide chilled meals to over 65’s in the Wee County. The volunteers, namely: Kim Dawson, June McLauchlan, Pauline Miller, John McDonagh, Angela Anderson and Hazel Dewar have all played their (monumental) part in delivering the meals, reassuring those who are at risk of going hungry that they will always have a substantial meal delivered – with a smile! Describing the volunteers, Jilly said they “are friendly, caring and kind and the service could not run without them and their time”. Thank you for all you do, know that it is appreciated by all in the Wee County!
- Over the past 8 months, Sofie Meier has gone above and beyond in her role as the Social Media Volunteer with CTSI. Those who have worked alongside her have been astounded by her unparalleled level of commitment and dedication to her role, which far exceeds all expectations that managers could have for any volunteer! Those who get to know Sofie, one thing is abundantly clear – she cares deeply about the work of CTSI, and wants to help CTSI reach its goals, by engage with new audiences, and looking for ways broaden its appeal, especially to younger audiences.
Sofie’s bright, diligent, thoughtful persona is seen whenever she goes the extra mile in any of her volunteering activities. Her colleagues describe their joy at seeing how she has shaped her role, taking on new challenges and always bringing new and exciting ideas to try and ways to innovate CTSI online. Sofie has become an integral part of our comms activities and now manages the CTSI Instagram account as well as continues to work on blog articles and visual content too. Sofie, thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and will do!
- Every now and again, we need someone to stand up for us, and Elizabeth Ramsay has been a superb representative for carers on the Integration Joint Board at the Carers Forum, where she has raised carer’s issues and reporting back to carers at quarterly forums, making even the most difficult topics accessible to all. She is also on the Carers Centre Board of Trustees and uses her experience as a former carer to help guide the organisation. She tirelessly promotes the Carers Centre to people in the community making sure anyone with a caring role is aware of the support that is available. Advocates need to be advocates for themselves, so Elizabeth, Thank You!
- Courtney Flumage joined Connect Alloa around a year and a half ago as a volunteer for the Connect Youth Nights and instantly gelled well with the young people, especially using her creative skills. Soon after she stepped into a vacancy on our board to become Secretary and managed to organise an event (before Covid) which allowed Connect Alloa to provide a space where partner organisations could publicise their services for free and the whole community was welcomed to join and learn about what Alloa, Clackmannanshire and the wider Forth Valley Third Sector projects had to offer. Courtney has never logged her Saltire Awards as she wants to help. Her voluntary journey is not fuelled by the need to seek extra credit or by being recognised. Her commitment has earned her well over 300 hours of service since the beginning (in both roles). David Crozier, the Founder of Connect Alloa and Project Leader said that Courtney “deserves this award because of the fact that she doesn’t feel she needs the recognition and because she is an example to other young people about how they can be involved in making a difference by volunteering and even stepping up to having a voice at board level”. For that, we couldn’t agree more, so Courtney, thank you for everything you’re doing!
- Margaret Daniels volunteers on the Creative Breaks panel which reviews grant applications to make sure that those hardworking carers benefit from a short break away. Her role has been particularly busy over the past year, but she has not wavered in going above and beyond to make sure as many applications as possible were approved, because she knows how beneficial these trips are for carers who worked throughout lockdown. She also serves on the Board of Trustees, where she employs her personal experience of providing care to inform the strategic direction of the Carers Centre. Margaret, thank you!
- Kate Turner moved back home to Sauchie from University last year when the Coronavirus first emerged and picked up where she left off in regard to volunteering. She’s been helping and supporting both people and organisations in Sauchie through the Sauchie Community Group! Kate has volunteered for Sauchie Community Group since 2010, starting out doing litter picks. She then started helping at events like soup and sandwich lunches; Fun Days; Christmas and Easter events; and more recently helping with the Group’s social media. Due to family illness during July 2020, Kate took over from her mum Laura in helping to bring the community together with the help of funding awarded to Sauchie Community Group from various organisations such as The Big Lottery. Kate helped deliver activity packs; donations to the Gate Charity; stationery packs for the local schools; and at Christmas she helped choose Christmas presents for local children to help make Christmas special. Kate was the Group’s Christmas Elf, delivering Santa’s Letters to all the children who had previously written a letter to Santa. She made sure that this would bring a wee bit of Christmas magic to the children. Kate has also worked hard looking for new ways to bring a new, younger outlook to Sauchie Community Group. Despite personal challenges, she has become an inspiration to all those she meets. Kate, your community is appreciative of your work! Thank You!
- Bill Aikman is being nominated by this year’s President of the Rotary Club of Alloa, Geoff Storer, because for more years than any of the team can remember he has provided the glorious array of flowers tumbling from the colourful wee trains that greet passengers as they arrive at Alloa Railway Station. As the station re-opened in 2008, Bill has been caring for these planters for around 12 years. Bill repairs and re-paints the trains, not only sourcing and planting them, but waters the flowers in all the seasons. He marshals a small band of (equally dedicated) volunteers to help with the watering and dead heading when necessary and he liaises with Scotrail directly over relevant regulations. For visitors and commuters to and from the Wee County, the wee trains cheer up their working days and helps keep Rotary in the public eye. It’s a small service, but even during the pandemic when the best of us needed cheering up, Bill kept up this colourful act of service. Of course, Bill is a regular and reliable volunteer at all of the other Rotary Club events in Clackmannanshire and is also the hardest-working Treasurer around- and the Rotary Club of Alloa treasure him for all he does! Thank you for all you do Bill!
- Volunteers often exude passion for their roles and Drew McLaren is no exception, he has been an excellent asset to the Handyperson Service. Always ready to help and open to requests, utilising his extensive knowledge and skillset to do a job right first time. His warm, friendly personality always puts clients at ease, coupled with his reliable and trustworthy nature makes him an effective volunteer. At the very start of the pandemic, Drew was one of the first volunteers to undertake shopping and prescription pickups for those forced to shield. On his very first venture into the shops for an elderly lady who needed very specific items from a variety of stores – which proved to be a challenge for Drew as he manoeuvred his way around busy car parks, standing in long queues and coping with challenging behaviours! After 2 or 3 assignments for the lady, she stopped calling the service, and Drew became concerned, even contacting her, only to discover that her son had introduced her to the joys of Supermarket Home Delivery and her world had opened for her! Drew has even gone further by setting out ground rules for safe handover of shopping for cash on the doorstep. His willingness to continue volunteering throughout the last year means that Volunteering Matters are very proud to have him as a volunteer with the Handyperson Service. Drew, THANK YOU!
- “The Crafty Kids team, comprised of Jamie-lee McMillan, Matt Lygate, Jamie Christie, and Roxsanne McGowan allowed Resilience Learning Partnership (RLP) to continue with its activities in the first months of lockdown, which also kept people in the organisation productive, empowered and filled with a sense of community spirit as they were supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community. If it was not for their amazing efforts, our Managing Director would not have been able to maintain the organisations links to both the community and the sector. It was successful that Crafty Kids received national media coverage, including from newspapers, TV and radio appearances. Such hard work is appreciated, and the community thanks you!
- In Clackmannanshire, Bobby-Jo McAuley has been central to the progression of this vision for Who Cares? Scotland. Having come from a care background herself, her experience is immensely beneficial at the local group meetings for young people living in care, known as Oor Wee Clacks Voices. She knows what the process is like for the young people and can relate to them in a way which they can react to positively. She has also used her local knowledge to her advantage in this way, as well as using her sense of sensitivity and good humour. Nothing is ever too much hassle for her. Despite juggling college, work and home commitments, Bobby-Jo has been a committed and determined volunteer, even during the pandemic, where she has engaged with young people over Zoom, coming up with quizzes and activities when not able to see the group face-to-face. Bobby-Jo has made a massive difference to the work in Clackmannanshire, and in many ways already seems like part of the furniture. Well done, Bobby-Jo!
- The Wee County Veterans and Supporters Group’s very own James Paterson, Patricia Duff, Joseph Farrell and Allister Gemmell have supported the group’s founder Johanna Wilkinson throughout the pandemic by going above and beyond their respective remits. As veterans of the UK’s Armed Forces, they know all about rolling up their sleeves when the going gets tough! They, alongside Johanna, see the bigger picture and the role they have in the community. Johanna said that their loyalty and support generally have a big difference in providing the relief to those in need. As veterans they have done their duty to the country, but even in their civilian life they are still choosing to serve. That sets an example for others to follow in the volunteering community. The Wee County thanks you for your continued service!
- Evelyn Paterson is among the very modest and most hardest working of individuals. Evelyn co-founded The Gate herself alongside members of Ludgate church. She has proven since its founding that she is not afraid of hard work, willing to roll up her sleeves and get involved in any role. She has provided both practical assistance and a strategic direction as the Chair to the organisation. Evelyn’s has a role as the Project Coordinator for the Home Starter Pack Project too, where she helps to receive referrals, purchasing stock, and even distributing parcels to service users to help turn their new house into a home. Evelyn’s natural empathy without judgement was shown on one occasion, where a lady visiting The Gate had holes all over her shoes. Evelyn subsequently took her own boots off her feet and gave them to the visitor. This natural way she has with service users and providing any type of assistance needed to The Gate’s volunteers and its staff is appreciated by all. Throughout Covid, Evelyn stepped up to run the Centre during the crisis to ensure that the most vulnerable were still supported. The Gate would easily not be where it is today without this remarkable woman who has worked for free for many years aiding in any manner she can without judgement and with a huge passion to help others. Thank you so much Evelyn!
- During the recent pandemic Ann Clark has gone above and beyond in her role as a volunteer, where her attitude of putting others first every day meant she became the lifeline to many people forced to shield. She has done all of this whilst working in a supermarket and having her own daughter working on the front line in the Covid wards, on top of looking after an ill relative. Ann’s dedication has left service users to describe her as an Angel, because nothing is too much trouble to her. She has went shopping, collected medication, and dog walked for people shielding. She has done all of this without being asked to which is truly inspirational, coupled with her natural humility. She is without a doubt a shining light in our community, and we thank you so much Ann for all you have done!
- Greer Conroy is the walking embodiment of ‘passionate devotion’. She has been volunteering with The PlayPen from its earliest days of sending food out to the elderly. Now a recognised stalwart of the community in Muckhart and the village church, Greer takes an admirable personal interest in the wellbeing of the local elderly community. This is reflected in the number hours volunteered – surpassing the rest of the team – where she is often delivering meals in Muckhart. In fact, Greer has consistently shown up for Lunch Club twice weekly deliveries, without fail. This constant presence in the community ensures she is a welcome sight for the elderly, taking the time to chat and check in with the recipients. Her presence easily brightens their day as their interactions restores their connection to the outside world during the pandemic. Alexandra, The PlayPen’s CEO, described Greer as having made a real, tangible difference to the lives of their beneficiaries, and impressed their gratitude for her contribution.
- Julie Hamilton, has been volunteering with the PlayPen each week, delivering meals to the elderly, and has quickly become one of the most loved masked faces in the community of beneficiaries. Not only is she reliable, by showing up consistently and carrying out the role diligently, she has shown a genuinely heartfelt passion for the role, by going above and beyond each, and every time. In her role as a Befriender, Julie spends a great deal of time with her Befriendees, investing the time to really get to know each of them, through spirited conversations and laughter on their doorsteps or at garden gates. Julie often takes on extra support tasks for the people she visits, promoting a longer-term interest in their well-being and making sure they are happy, safe, and well looked after. So many of the beneficiaries have mentioned her to the managers by name, describing just how much her visits mean to them. Julie really embodies each of the PlayPen’s values and is a wonderful asset to have.
- Graham Reece is one of those people whose knowledge about the area is as valuable as the contributions he makes physically. Being a representative for older adults in the area he has taken the lead in addressing public transport issues, upholding good mental health projects like the Alloa Men’s Shed, and supporting veterans in the local area and nationally. Graham, you deserve a big thank you for all you do for older people within the community!
- Resonate’s Angela Watt founded the charity 11 years ago, to address the issues of mental health and wellbeing locally. Their work has been recognised internationally because their highly trained team are all working under the banner of ‘making space for the diverse people of Clackmannanshire.’ Angela has devoted her whole life and her resources to make Resonate the highly acclaimed organisation which it is today. Angela, thank you for your work!
- Susan Lambert makes sure to add an extra 10% (beyond 100% effort guaranteed) into her work as the chairperson of the Youth Council in Clackmannanshire, her reliability and dedicated persona makes her a great ambassador for the rights of young people, as she works tirelessly to ensure the voice of young people in Clackmannanshire are taken on board by the decision makers. During the pandemic, Susan was the backbone of the youth council and has worked with staff on ensuring the wellbeing of other youth council members and young people from across Clackmannanshire had access to physical resources and virtual activities to tackle the stress and anxiety faced by many at this unprecedented time! Thank you Susan!
- PlayPen volunteer Nicola Dibley came up with the concept of Lunch Club at Home’s Community Connections newsletter. Her existing experience in delivering meals to the elderly, meant Nicola to see the opportunity and do more than simply deliver food. She even took the project one step further and offered some “food for the soul” which encouraged staff, volunteers, and their beneficiaries to build content, such as writing local news articles and gathering the stories and anecdotes from beneficiary’s and encouraging them to share their memories and light-hearted takes to help the community feel connected, while being kept physically apart. Each week Nicola would write a newsletter with a new theme that the beneficiaries just loved! Her informal and chatty writing style makes for a great read and has prompted countless beneficiaries to share how much they enjoy and look forward to reading it week on week. Nicola’s courage to lead spurred our organisation into developing the befriending arm of our services. This cemented The PlayPen’s role in reducing loneliness and isolation within our elderly community. She’s been an incredible asset to the organisation, taking time from her job and family to actively design, develop and deliver the Community Connections Newsletter. Thank You Nicola, for doing all you do for Clackmannanshire!
- Every group needs a leading personality with an even bigger vision and for Forth Valley Sensory Centre, that person is Laura Cluxton. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Board, where she works on strategy and future direction of the Centre. Furthermore, she also leads the subgroup Centre Users – ensuring that activities and developments are user-led. On top of this, her fundraising efforts have been phenomenal! For instance, she has virtually (in lockdown, in her garage) cycled her way round the UK raising over £1500 in the process. She and her husband Joe have even recently put on an amazing quiz which raised a further £315 for the Centre. As a blind person, Laura really understands the extra feeling of isolation and loneliness people with sensory loss can feel, especially in lockdown so has been making befriending calls on behalf of the Centre throughout. She has also taken the initiative to develop ‘Live with Laura’ podcasts, to keep the wider community entertained as much as the Centre’s users are. In short, Laura is a powerhouse of a person who really brings, and carries a light to the charity. Thank you, Laura!
How amazing are these people? The best part is, there are so many more. They walk among us, often forgoing attention, preferring instead to serve quietly. So to every volunteer in the County – THANK YOU!