Glasgow Community Champions 2018: Meet the stars of the north west

THE heroes of Glasgow’s north west shone in the spotlight at last night’s final Community Champions heat of 2018.

Supported by our generous partners Glasgow City Council, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Police Scotland, Glasgow Fort, City Building and Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, the event, at Partick Burgh Hall, was a glittering success.

The Team Award went to Braveheart Industries, a group of social enterprises generating employment and other life-changing opportunities for ex-offenders.

Iain Murray, one of the directors of the group, said: “We are honoured – it’s brilliant to be here. Being part of these awards not only raises awareness of what we do, but it also raises the self-esteem of the people who work with us. We’re over the moon.”

Poverty Alliance fieldwork development officer Twimukye Mushaka, who has used her personal experience of disability to help others, won the Individual Award.

Despite her own health challenges, she gives up her time to work with several grassroots organisations helping people out of poverty, giving the vulnerable a voice.

“I’m excited, I really didn’t expect this,” said an emotional Twimukye. “Because of my own health issues at the moment – I am losing my sight – I have not been in a very good place. But this feels good. I have never let my disabilities or ill health stand in my way. I will continue to push the issues that matter, and help the people who need it.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Community Action Team, which works tirelessly to help protect vulnerable children from sexual exploitation, won the Uniformed Services award.

Carol Smith, community safety advocate, said the whole team was delighted. “It’s a real honour to win. Being part of this initiative has made us realise the impact of the work we are doing. This project is making a real difference to children’s lives and we are very proud of that.”

The Senior Award went to Alexander Watt, who has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to running a Springburn sports club.

Unfortunately, due to ill-health, he was unable to attend the ceremony so his award was accepted on his behalf by Evening Times deputy editor Henry Ainslie.

Judges could not separate Glasgow Caledonian University Law Clinic and University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, so they were named joint winners of the Public Services Award.

Claire McFadzean, academic director at GCU Law Clinic paid tribute to both teams and added: “We’re delighted for our students, who give so much time and effort to this project.”

The runner-up in this category, Anne Marie Robertson Dryburgh, who has run older people’s social project Alive and Kicking for more than 30 years, was given a special commendation.

“Anne Marie is a wonderful woman, who is always there for people in her community,” said fellow volunteer Gerry Maguire. “It takes someone really special to do what she does, and to still be going strong after all this time is amazing.”

Glasgow North West YouthBank, a grant-making project run by young people, won the Young Award..

Anna Bell, 14, said: “I feel really happy and proud of what we have done for young people in our community.”

Support worker Caitlin McGlynn said: “I don’t think these young people realise just how much good they are doing in their community. They are fantastic.”

Notre Dame Children’s Centre won the Health and Wellbeing Award. The centre supports children living tough lives and the kinship carers who help them.

A stunned Margaret Brown said: “We are so delighted, not just for the group, but for all those kinship carers out there, doing such amazing work.”

The Sport Award was presented to Partick Thistle Charitable Trust, which was the first in Scotland to introduce structured programmes of football and physical activity for disabled people.

“It’s fantastic to win,” said development officer Diane Scott. “Like everyone here tonight, we saw a need, provided a service and now others are doing it too and that’s great. It’s what we all want – for people to jump on board and help others, so everybody benefits.”

A special commendation was awarded in this category to James Davidson, who dedicates his free time to coaching and supporting the under-11s Drumchapel United girls team.

“I’m shocked – I just love football, and it’s great to be able to help girls get into sport,” said James, under whose stewardship the club has grown from 22 to 96 members.

His proud daughter Brooke, 11, who is the team’s goalie, beamed: “I’m so proud of my dad.”