BEING crowned Charity Champion of the Year 2018 at last year’s Press Awards came as something of a shock for Play As One Scotland’s hard-working volunteers.

The honour came just weeks after the official opening of their state-of-the-art playpark for all in Pittencrieff Park.

The charity was established in 2013 by a group of friends who had taken part in the Dunfermline Athletic Football Fans in Training initiative in 2011 and its mission is to make play inclusive for all.

Its chairman, Brian Rodger, said the award was something which they were all amazed – and delighted – to receive.

“We were completely gobsmacked,” he said. “We were told we were being put forward and that is really as far as it went. We thought it would be a nice turnout for the charity.

“When you hear the stories of others and the things they have done, you think we have done well but these people have been phenomenal and you are looking forward to them getting something.

“When our name was called, it was like ‘Wow’. It was a bit surreal. We didn’t expect it – especially for the big one at the end. From the charity’s perspective, it has been fantastic.

“We don’t do it for recognition of ourselves. We do it because we feel every child should have a right to play no matter if they have a disability or not. They should be able to play together and all we are trying to do is put equipment in so they can do that.”

The award, said Brian, has helped with the ongoing work of the charity – which is currently helping with projects at Lochore Meadows and in Grangemouth.

“When you apply for funding elsewhere or send letters, you have the wee stamp from the awards which goes on our letterheads and shows your peers how you are looked at and thought of. It is very humbling,” he added.

“We don’t do it for ourselves. None of us have got disabled kids. We do it because we think it is something that should be done.”

Having seen the benefits of being a Dunfermline Press Community Champion, Brian is keen to encourage others to get nominating for this year’s awards.

“It is amazing how much of a difference it makes,” he said. “We are all working for the charity and not looking for personal gratification but it is nice to be acknowledged.

“When you go for funding and get knockbacks, it is disheartening a little bit but this shows that people are thinking of you and it gives you the emphasis to keep going.”

Play As One Scotland’s groundbreaking £200,000 playpark opened last June and includes a sensory and musical garden, an electronic outdoor play zone, a wheelchair swing, accessible roundabout and a multi-play structure.

The charity is continuing to ensure the area caters for all needs and is already planning to make some alterations.

“We are going to adapt some equipment and make it better,” added Brian. “It is constant development. It is important to get a balance of what works.”