North-east volunteers have been recognised for their contribution towards improving the health and well being of others in their communities.
Josée Kellas has been nominated for Health Walk Volunteer of the Year, while Daviot Community Trust and Aboyne Paths and Tracks have both been nominated for Community Path Group of the Year at the 2020 Paths for All Volunteer Awards.
More than 57 entries have been received for this year’s virtual ceremony.
Josée Kellas, health walk leader at Aberdeenshire Health Walks said: “I was very surprised to have been nominated for the Health Walk Volunteer Award as I see my volunteer role as just a normal part of my weekly routine.
“I started volunteering more than 15 years ago when I sadly lost my husband to cancer and the local community gave me so much support throughout that time. From doing my ironing to collecting my shopping – I felt I had to do something to give back to the community.
“All the members of the walking group mean a great deal to me, and we have formed a strong friendship. For most of them, they love being able to interact with other people so I started to bring my grandchildren along to some of the walks and the members just loved to be surrounded by them and hear their stories.
“During the pandemic, we couldn’t go out on our walks so instead, when it was allowed, I would visit some of the members from a distance and stand by their windows or have a phone call with them. I also delivered lettuce from my vegetable bed to keep their spirits high as some couldn’t go out shopping.
“The pleasure I get from volunteering is why I love doing it so much. Seeing how happy it makes the members makes me want to continue volunteering for as long as I can.
“The group members enjoy hearing the community news, and I really think it opens their world and gives many a new lease of life. I have become very attached to this group of people.”
Founding chair of Aboyne Paths and Tracks, Jonathan Kitching, hopes that their nomination will encourage more people to get involved in the upkeep of paths and tracks across the region.
He said: “It’s wonderful to have been nominated for this award. To be recognised for this clearly shows the work we have been doing has been valued and appreciated by the local community. We would like to say a big thank you to the ongoing support from the community, the Community Trust, and Aberdeenshire Council.
“Principally it is about improving the well being and health of our local community. By maintaining, developing, and promoting these paths and tracks we are seeing an increase in people using the pathways since we started the group in spring last year.
“Another important element of our work is to help support local businesses and by maintaining these paths we can attract visitors to the village.”
Another group nominated was Daviot Community Trust, which was set up to manage and develop 22 acres of land and woodland.
Director William Sinclair said: “It’s a great honour for our group to be nominated for the Community Path Group of the Year Award.
“Speaking on behalf of all our volunteers, it’s encouraging to be recognised for the work that has been done over the years and especially this year during Covid-19, the trust has carried out extensive work to create a network of paths and leisure areas and planted around 600 to 700 trees, wildflower areas and new grass areas created for picnic tables and seating.
“There is no doubt that we have accomplished a great deal over the years and there is no limit to what we can do in the future. I would like to see us develop more physical amenities for the users.”
To find out more about which Health Walks you can join in Aberdeen, go to www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder