Three key workers from the north-east have been announced as finalists in the upcoming Evening Express Aberdeen’s Champion Awards.
A total of nine accolades will be up for grabs at the virtual ceremony later this month including Key Worker Champion (individual), sponsored by Mark Shaw Funeral Service.
Volunteer Special Constable Callum Irvine, full-time carer Linda Cleary and Nicola Robertson, a secondary teacher at Mintlaw Academy, have all been recognised for their selflessness, hard work and dedication to their roles.
Despite the unprecedented times, all three finalists have continued to make a difference in their local communities.
Callum, from New Aberdour, has been working alongside Team 2 of the Buchan Community Policing team in Peterhead for 12 years, at the same time working full-time as a joiner.
The 31-year-old was forced to put his joinery services on hold earlier this year due to the coronavirus crisis and, after realising the policing team required additional support more than ever, he decided to work alongside them on a full-time basis.
Described as “one-of-a-kind”, “open-minded” and “humorous” by his police colleagues, Callum is always eager to help those around him.
Officers said Callum’s willingness to give up his free time to help out during these troubled times was a testament to his kind spirit.
Callum said: “I was very surprised to have been nominated and it was a huge shock finding out I was a finalist.
“I do my role within Police Scotland for the community and never expect to be awarded for it, but it was a great feeling knowing my efforts are being recognised.
“The work I do can be hard but at the same time, it’s very rewarding.
“During Covid-19, the demand for policing was high and, with so many absences, every pair of hands was required. So when I deployed to full-time hours – instead of the usual weekend policing that special constable normally do – and worked alongside regular police constables, I realised the true demands of the job.”
Linda Cleary has also been touching lives through her role.
Linda, from Sheddocksley, has been Laura McWilliam’s full-time carer for three years. But during the coronavirus pandemic, she looked after the 34-year-old day and night for three months without a break.
This meant sacrificing seeing her own family out of fear she might pass along the virus to Laura.
Laura, who has a rare neurological disease, says if it wasn’t for Linda, she would probably be in a care home.
Linda, 39, said: “I was in total shock when I was put forward for the award. At the end of the day, I’m just doing my job.
“But I was even more shocked to find out that I was shortlisted as I have never been put forward for anything like this before. It makes me feel really appreciated for the job I do.”
The remaining finalist in the category is Nicola Robertson, who has been teaching design and technology at Mintlaw Academy for 10 years.
At the beginning of lockdown, the 33-year-old decided to make something that would benefit her two sons – Logan, 6, and Oliver, 3 – as well as thousands of children across the country.
Nicola, from Ellon, created a drawing of Mintlaw Academy to be used as a colouring-in sheet. After posting the drawing on Twitter, she was inundated with requests for colouring in drawings of schools from around the country.
Her designs – which now stand at a total of 80 – have benefitted thousands of children all over Scotland, as well as local charity AberNecessities, which was the beneficiary of donations.
On finding out she was a finalist, Nicola says it was “a lovely surprise”.
“Finding out that I was a finalist was a real honour,” she added.
“So many key workers have been going above and beyond throughout lockdown, so to have my work recognised amongst other key workers is really special.
“I’m really proud that my drawings are being used by schools across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, as well as other areas across Scotland.
“The whole project had a real community feel and I’m so happy that I was able to help a little during a time that was so difficult for children, parents and teachers.”
This year’s awards, run in association with Balmoral Group and Original 106FM, will take place virtually on Thursday September 24.
Go to www.dctevents.com/event/aberdeenschampionawards/ for more information