We are delighted to host the very first Lowland Canals Volunteer Awards in 2019.
The inaugural awards ceremony took place at The Falkirk Wheel on Friday 24th May 2019, recognising and rewarding our hardworking volunteers.
The Lowland Canals Volunteer Awards celebrated individuals, businesses, charities and Scottish Canals staff for their valuable contribution to the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. The awards will also saw the very first individuals inaugurated into our Canals Hall of Fame.
The winners of the inaugural Scottish Canals Volunteer Awards are:
Volunteer Business of the Year
One of Scottish Canal’s framework contractors, Mackenzie has been an amazing partner in supporting events, volunteering staff time and always going above and beyond.
Mackenzie is a core supporter of the recent Canal College, which is engaging over 350 young people in the heritage, engineering and maintenance of Scotland’s canals and helping them move onto positive destination in further education or the workplace. A principle sponsor of last year’s Youth Urban Games, one of the biggest events in the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People, they also have worked with Scottish Canals’ engineering team to upgrade Bonnybridge and Twechar lift bridges, facilitating the re-opening of the Lowland Canals in time for this weekend’s flotilla.
Department for Work & Pensions
Having volunteered with Scottish Canals in a number of key destinations including Falkirk, Auchinstarry, Glasgow, Bowling and Clydebank, staff from the Department of Work and Pensions have given more than 1200 hours of their time to improve the Lowland Canals for all to enjoy. They have carried out maintenance of the Auchinstarry Sensory Garden, carried out canal maintenance works, helped transform The Falkirk Wheel site and painted numerous locks and bridges across the Central Belt. This hard work has vastly improved litter and hotspots and unloved corners of the canal network in a matter of days, ensuring they become places the public and canal users can continue to enjoy for many years to come.
Volunteer Group of the Year
Leaf Group was set up in 2010 to manage and maintain the canal around Auchinstarry to develop volunteering, improve people’s health and wellbeing and improve the canal environment. Currently made up of seven members, led by the dedicated Martin Stewart, they meet every Thursday, come rain or shine and have carried out 2600 hours since their inception. Many previous members have moved on to further education or employment.
They have been a core supporter of the Lochrin work boat, using it weekly in Edinburgh an bringing out 5-6 people who are on the journey to rehabilitation from drug and alcohol misuse. They are working with Glasgow Kelvin College and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce to develop the Community Engagement Award for their members and now have their own vessel, they have been working on the canal with Re-Union and Scottish Canals for over a year.
Canal Champion of the Year
Kirstie has volunteered with Scottish Canals for two years this month at our records store in West Mains and in our Glasgow office. She has helped prepare our archival records for transfer to the National Records of Scotland and has personally appraised, catalogued and packed over 500 individual maps and plans. During her 41 days, she has also helped prepare items currently on loan to the V&A Dundee and is now an invaluable member of the team.
A former participant of Canal College, Russell became a Canal College mentor ]and is now volunteering with Scottish Canals five days a week, working with Angus Harkness on stone masonry and developing his skills as a skipper on the Lochrin work boat.
Alex has volunteered more than 70 hours of his time building planters and supplying materials for the Sensory Garden in Auchinstarry. As a supervisor to the Prince’s Trust he also makes it possible for their volunteers take part in valuable work experience.
Canal Charity of the Year
Forth & Clyde Canal Society
Formed in the 1960s by a group of canal enthusiasts who believed passionately that the decline of the Scotland’s canals should be stopped. They worked tirelessly with the public, politicians and other organisations to get these incredible heritage monuments re-instated and brought back into public use, kick-starting the renaissance of the Lowlands which continues to this day.
Linlithgow & Union Canal Society
The Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS) was founded in 1975 when the Union Canal was all but were derelict and there were no boats. However, the society’s founder, the late Mel Gray MBE, knew there was interest in the canal and that’s how LUCS was formed.
In year one LUCS bought a 40ft horse drawn scow, removed rubbish and cleared weed from the canal and continued to evolve over the years, opening a tea room, museum, education centre and running trips from the basin to the Avon Aqueduct.
Founded in 1978, Seagull Trust Cruises offers free cruises on Scotland’s canals for disabled and disadvantaged persons and groups.
A completely voluntary charity, cruises run from branches at Ratho near Edinburgh; Falkirk; Kirkintilloch; and Inverness. The charity hosts an average of 20,000 passengers on 2,500 cruises each year.
In addition, the Trust has a purpose-built holiday boat, the Marion Seagull, which allows people with special needs and their families to enjoy a relaxing break on Scotland’s Lowland Canals from its base at Falkirk.
The charity was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2007 – the highest award which can be given to a voluntary group.
Re-Union Canal Boats is a social enterprise with bases in Edinburgh and Falkirk.
Re-Union engages with canalside communities and individuals referred to their programmes by many referral agencies. The organisation brings people together to develop skills and learn from one another. They learn about the Lowland Canals and deliver Lock Keeping, the Edinburgh Canal Festival, boat skills training, first aid, canal clean ups and a variety of walking, cycling, gardening and general well being projects. Re-Union Income generate by hiring out Lochrin Belle, widebeam boat in Edinburgh and Jaggy Thistle day boat at Falkirk.
This 14 week heritage employability project has helped hundreds of young people in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Inverness and Bowling get a job or move into further education. These individuals have worked with Scottish canals’ staff on stone masonry, vegetation management and guided canal walks on the canal history which contributed to them getting an SQA Award, a Saltire Award or a John Muir Award.
Volunteer Ambassador of the Year
The Volunteer Ambassador of the Year award recognises individuals within Scottish Canals who have made a significant contribution to volunteering on the canals.
Operations department, led by Tommy Thomson with supervisors Billy King and Davie McRoberts, has embraced volunteering in all its forms, from lock-keeping, canalside maintenance and welcoming volunteers onto the canal network.
Particular recognition must be given to David MacBrayne and Gary Clark who are on-the ground champions of volunteering.
The maintenance team, led by Craig Sear, has helped ensure that volunteering is making a difference to the assets through the delivery of the Asset Management Plan and the physical transformation on the ground.
Particular recognition must go to Angus Harkness, who started with Canal College and then achieved an apprenticeship with Scottish Canals.
Chris O’Connell and Angharad Stockwell have introduced volunteering into the historic archive of Scottish Canals, recruiting a number of long-term volunteers to help us understand and reorganise the heritage records that capture the stories behind these valuable assets and communicating them to a wide audience.
Under Dr Olivia Lassiere, the Environment Team has introduced the highly skilled Dr Allaa Aenab, an Iraqi refugee and expert in water hydrology to help improve Scottish Canals’ approach to water management and quality.
Canal Hall of Fame
The ongoing contribution to the vibrancy of the canals by these individuals, companies and charities over the years has been invaluable. Scottish Canals would like to thank all nominees and volunteers for their contribution and look forward to welcoming you onto our canals again soon to help safeguard these scheduled monuments for the future.
Special thanks to our volunteer co-ordinators, Carol Bell and John McGowan, for their continued efforts in ensuring all volunteers, and our lowland canals are well looked-after. Without them, many of our award winners would not have been able to contribute nearly as much as they have to our canals.
If you would like to volunteer, click here for more information and to register.