Lochaber group honours stalwarts at annual ‘Voscars’ presentation
VOLUNTEERS across Lochaber were honoured at the second annual volunteer awards on Thursday June 9.
The ‘Voscars’, organised by Voluntary Action Lochaber (VAL), recognised the work of volunteers in the community across seven different categories.
Ewen’s Room, which provides support and information for those suffering from mental health issues, was presented the Organisation of the Year award by VAL chairman Gerald McIntyre. Receiving runner’s up certificates in this category were Arisaig Community Trust and the Room 13 art project.
Alistair MacKinnon, director-president of Fort William Rugby Club received the Board/Committee Member of the Year award, presented by Councillor Brian Murphy. Fort William Town Team’s Sue Keen and Fort William FC secretary Marie McMillan were runners up.
Lochaber Hope received the award for Best Volunteer Supporting Organisation award from Lesley Benfield, chief executive of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.
Runners up were Lochaber and District Canine Society and the West Highland Museum. Theresa De Billot accepted the award on behalf of Lochaber Hope. She thanked all the volunteers that work with the organisation and said: ‘We cherish every one of them and couldn’t be without them.’
The Good Neighbour of the Year award went to Susan Hannah who looks after her elderly neighbours. Rotary Club President Terry Lee presented her with the award. The runners up were Cathy Stevenson and Stanley and Agnes Cameron.
Naomi Hannah was the Young Scot Volunteer of the Year, having accrued more volunteer hours than any other Kinlochleven High School student. Runners up were Lewis Ross and Andrew Jackson, and the award was presented by LHS Support for Learning teacher, Mrs Lynn MacAllister.
James Kennedy won the Volunteer of the Year award for his work with Fort William Town Team. Ian Donald, Highland Third Sector Interface deputy chief officer presented this award. Runners up were Sarah Kennedy and Lorraine Wheelan.
Avril Watt of Kinlochleven received the Lifetime Achievement award from last year’s winner, Sheena Fraser, for her wide array of volunteering work, including looking after all the community gardens in the village and being part of various committees such as the Prisoner of War Camp group and the Community Trust, which she has just retired from after six years. She said: ‘I don’t class myself as a volunteer. It’s just part of my life and it’s what I do.’
Runners up were John Fotheringham of the Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Achnacarry community council and Sally Morris who has been with Lochaber Credit Union for more than eight years.
Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber. sent a letter of apology for not being able to attend due to Westminster duties. In the letter, which VAL manager Flora McKee read during the ceremony, he congratulated and thanked all the Lochaber volunteers and the ‘many unsung heroes’ in the community.