Community Champions: Unsung heroes get their moment in the spotlight

FROM the roof-raising start by the city’s stars of the future to the emotional closing scenes, the Glasgow Community Champions Grand Final was a sparkling success.

The banqueting hall at the City Chambers played host to the most uplifting awards do of the year, run by the Glasgow Times in association with Glasgow Fort and supported by Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association and Trades House of Glasgow, Around 300 people filled the wonderful venue to pay tribute to our 2019 stars, and Sara N Junbug and young stars from the Angela McCallum School of Music provided the entertainment.

Ten awards were presented on the night, including the Lord Provost’s Special Recognition Award which went to Elaine Leitch, founder of women’s running club Jiggly Joggers.

Elaine, who founded the group to encourage women to exercise in a non-judgemental space, said: “I can’t believe it – I’m super proud. The group has only been going for 21 months and it’s wonderful to see so many women grow in confidence just by being part of it. That’s what I am most proud of.”

The Team Award went to Castlemilk Youth Complex, which has given hundreds of young people a range of opportunities in the local area.

Volunteer Brooke Ryan, 17, said: “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved. It would be a big loss for Castlemilk if this project didn’t exist.”

Callum Hutchison of Braveheart Industries won the Individual Award for his inspirational work helping troubled young people.

Callum said: “It was an honour even to be nominated and it’s great, not just for me, but for the project. It’s been life-changing for me.”

Men Matter Scotland, winner of the Public Service Award, supports men of all ages at risk from social isolation and mental health problems. Founders Gregor Ritchie and Fraser Devine were over the moon.

Fraser said: “We are honoured – there are so many amazing groups and individuals in the room tonight, we feel privileged to be part of it.”

Gregor added: “We are absolutely buzzing and proud to be here to represent all of our members – that’s who the group is for, and we are delighted to give them some recognition.”

The Senior Award was presented to Musical Memories, an innovative dementia project at Springburn Parish Church, and the Uniformed Services Award went to Sarah Everett, the resourceful and dedicated nurse behind Men’s Shed Govan.

Sarah said: “It’s been so exciting to be here. I can’t believe it – it’s lovely to have been nominated by the men at the Shed.”

Chairman Richard Caird said: “We are all very proud of Sarah, who does all the work for the Men’s Shed in her own time, at her own expense. She is amazing.”

Govan High’s Gardening Team won the Young Award and fifth-year pupil Grant McIntosh, 16, said: “This is really exciting. It was hard work but now we have a calm space for everyone to enjoy.”

The Sports Award was presented to Wheelchair Rugby Sevens, a club set up by Adam Mould to give those with mental health issues and disabilities the chance to enjoy sport.

Adam said: “I’m absolutely over the moon, because I want to showcase what the Sevens can do and winning here tonight will help me do that.”

The Health and Wellbeing award went to Addaction’s life-changing Roots to Recovery Group.

Addaction service manager Tracy Morrice said: “We are delighted to be recognised because what we do is at the heart of our community, challenging stigma and helping people.”

The inspirational Frank McArdle, who has taught and inspired hundreds of young musicians at the helm of St Roch’s Secondary’s legendary ceilidh band, won the Teacher Award. He was unable to attend the event, but his daughters Patricia, Siobhan and Roisin Anne accepted the award on his behalf.

Patricia said: “We are really proud of our dad. Like so many people here tonight, he doesn’t expect recognition, he just does what he does because it’s important and he loves it – but we all know he is an inspiration.”