Sgoil an Iochdair agus a'Choimhearsnachd

AWARDS SportScotland award

Volunteering Organisation of the year 2012


At 7:30pm, in St Mary’s hall in Griminish, many familiar people gathered for an evening to celebrate the inspiring contribution of volunteers in our communities throughout the Uists and Benbecula. The talk around the tables was varied and lively, and my only regret was that more people and groups had not been nominated.

Certainly, more organisations and people deserved nominations. Much of what is done by volunteers is taken for granted; could we imagine the year without the winter dancing clubs, the summer without the games and the shows, the craft shops and evening classes, how many people rely on the Tagsa bus, and how many people can say they’ve never read am paiper. These are just a few examples of what the voluntary sector brings to our lives locally.

The talk around the tables was about why people volunteer. We certainly don’t do it for awards, or for direct personal gain. For many, it is because it would be unthinkable not to contribute to the community. There are personal benefits to being a volunteer; it is good for your self esteem, for your social life, for developing skills, and an opportunity to support causes about which you may feel strongly. For me, it is about doing the right thing for the community, about saying ‘we could’ rather than ‘they should’.

There is a fine line between being a good neighbour, an active member of the community, and being a volunteer. Volunteers take on activities that would never receive statutory funding, and can be more flexible and responsive than any statutory body.

What is the point of having awards? For me it enables volunteers and voluntary organisations a platform to highlight their charity. It is an opportunity to show others the impact that volunteering can have, and to talk about the benefits of volunteering to others, as well as an opportunity to thank other volunteers.

Sgoil an Iochdair agus a’Choimhearsnachd won an award for ‘Organisation of the Year’, a crystal trophy that we will be sharing around the trustees. We are very pleased to have won this award; sometimes when things are not going our way, it feels that we aren’t making any progress, and it is good to know our efforts are not unappreciated. We hope that we can continue to give people plenty of opportunities to join us and join in our activities. There are thanks due to many people over the last 14 years who have contributed to what we have achieved, some of whom have moved on. Cheers, thanks to all of us.