ScotRail has recognised community rail’s unsung heroes at its annual ScotRail in the Community Awards.
The awards thank and celebrate the hard-working volunteers across Scotland’s Railway, recognising their contribution to the wider local community and railway. Categories up for ghrabs this year included Adopt a Station of the Year, Community Involvement Champion, Station Adopter of the Year, Community Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Contribution.
With restrictions on people attending live indoor events still in place, this year’s awards ceremony took place online, hosted by ScotRail’s community development manager, Tracy Stephenson.
There are more than 1200 volunteers across Scotland contributing to their local communities in a variety of different activities and projects – from community classes to station adopters. Because of Covid-19, many volunteers shifted their focus of volunteering from activities at more than 260 ScotRail stations to delivering essential items to their neighbours, helping to raise funds for their local foodbanks and providing additional support to local organisations needing an extra pair of hands.
James Ledgerwood, ScotRail head of economic & community development, said: “We are delighted that despite the coronavirus pandemic we are able to recognise and celebrate the heroes of our communities right across Scotland. Getting behind those communities and their projects is incredibly important to us and we are proud to highlight the inspirational work our many volunteers do across Scotland’s Railway.”
Outstanding Achievement Award
The winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award is Jordan Whiteford from Auchinleck in Ayrshire. Jordan volunteers five days a week at Auchinleck and New Cumnock stations as well as The Knowe Garden Centre. The 35-year old has kept up the good work throughout lockdown despite suffering with cerebral palsy.
Some duties have been adapted to suit his abilities. He excels at remembering which tools are best for each job, often setting them up for the day ahead. He has become more sociable, his mental health has improved dramatically, and he has benefited from being among other young people his age, particularly enjoying the camaraderie and the banter in the small team. In fact, you could say that volunteering has seen him blossom.
Kaye Hannah, Knowe Garden Centre manager, said:“I am very proud of Jordan. He’s here because he wants to be, and a loyal, hardworking volunteer is invaluable. I wish I had six of Jordan.”
Adopt a Station of the Year
The Gold Award winner is Portlethen Station in Aberdeenshire and Portlethen Social Gardening Group, supported by Mearns and Coastal Living Network. The group alternates between cultivating the Primary School garden with the children and tending the gardens along the platforms at Portlethen Station.
John Shackleton, a Portlethen Social Gardening Group member, said: “As I am retired and no longer meet people with my job, it gives me a chance to get out and do something useful in the community and meet other people who are similarly at a loose end. We keep the railway station looking bright, tidy and welcoming to passengers leaving or alighting, and it’s a pleasant glimpse of colour for longer distance travellers as they whiz past.”
The Silver Award went to Aberdour Station with Aberdour Heritage Centre and Gardens Volunteers and the Bronze Award was won by Gorebridge Station and volunteers, Craig Walls and Cath McGill.
Adopters of the Year
The winner in this category is St Denis Primary School Station Adopters. This is a group of 12 very enthusiastic gardeners from St Denis Primary School in Dennistoun in Glasgow, aged between seven and 10 years old.
They’ve been tending the planters at nearby Duke Street Station for almost 2 years, taking their plants and gardening tools from school over to the station to carry out their tasks. As well as planting bulbs, they grow plants from seed and transfer the seedlings from the school greenhouse to the station planters.
The planters look beautiful and colourful; wildlife has been encouraged and the children themselves grew in confidence as they developed their gardening and growing skills. The gardeners from St Denis are very aware of rail safety and have shared the safety message with others at school. When they are out wearing their ScotRail high-vis vests they beam with pride and they always show the head teacher photos of their gardening exploits when they return to school.
Community Project of the Year
The winner in this category is 6VT Youth Community Rail Partnership in Edinburgh. The group is made up of young people from a variety of ages and backgrounds. Having delivered many projects in 2019, the Pram Safety project was a standout achievement which gained them the winners title.
Working in partnership with ScotRail, a special training package focusing on making train travel easier and convenient for people travelling with prams and buggies was arranged. The accompanied train journey enabled the participants to put into practice the pram safety knowledge learned the previous week. The session involved a return journey to Dunbar from Edinburgh Waverley Station.
Adele McEvers, who took part in the training, said: “I went on the Parent and Buggy safety trip. I had never taken my kids on the train, so I had never even considered all the safety stuff about travelling with little kids and prams.
“The safety video really helped to prepare me for the trip and showed me how I could get around. On the day of the trip we met with the Youth CRP & ScotRail staff who were helpful and nice. Because of this activity I actually had the confidence to go and do that trip again. I took a friend and her kids and felt really proud I could keep her right on safety in the station.”
Community Rail Partnership Volunteer of the Year
The Community Rail Partnership Volunteer of the Year is Maureen Black. There are nine CRPs covering 86 different stations across the network, and around 100 volunteers are involved in lots of different CRP activity.
Maureen has been involved with the Rail 74 CRP since it started and was nominated for the award by the rest of the Rail 74 members. She is a very active volunteer who balances her full-time job as an advanced Practitioner Occupational Therapist for NHS Lanarkshire with giving back to her local community.
Maureen inspires not only the clients and users she works with through brilliant ideas, but she also takes others on a real community rail journey to encourage strong partnership bonds that make ideas become reality.
Suzie McCheyne, development officer for Rail 74, said: “Maureen is bright, funny, engaging and driven to provide care for others and the communities she serves with her humour and organisational skills. She is passionate about people turning their lives around and shares her knowledge freely. She is a pleasure to work with, always reliable and an absolute pleasure to have as a member. Maureen is an inspiration to me and the other partners around the Rail 74 CRP table.”
Community Involvement Champion
The Community Involvement Champion this year is Laura Yetton who works for the Moving On project which was set up by Kilmarnock Station Heritage Trust.
The project supports individuals dealing with social isolation including those affected by addiction, bereavement, loneliness, and mental health issues. Laura has been instrumental in securing funding to facilitate a programme of activity called Mind Matters which helps people in the community recover from adversity.
Her passion to assist people who may be struggling is inspiring and her dedication has meant the realisation of a programme that has assisted hundreds of people recover and integrate back into their community. The need for such a project has always been evident and it’s increasingly so in current circumstances.