Over 190 guests gathered in Mareel in Lerwick on Tuesday to celebrate the recipients of this year’s Saltire Awards, which honoured over 22,000 hours of local volunteering, writes Louise Thomason.
The annual ceremony, now in its fifth year, began with music from Charity Johnson, and guests were treated to canapés and mocktails before the formal presentations got under way.
The awards are a Scottish Government scheme organised locally by Voluntary Action Shetland.
Chairman Alec Miller opened the presentations, congratulating the volunteers on their combined efforts and pointed out that the total number of volunteer hours this year, which have been recorded, was 22,780.
He said this was an “incredible figure”, beating last year’s total by 1,000 hours and meaning Shetland not only continues to lead the way for volunteering in Scotland, but is breaking Scottish records year on year.
The awards were due to be presented by MSP Tavish Scott, but owing to a vote in the Scottish Parliament he was unable to attend. Editor of The Shetland Times, Adam Civico, stood in as his replacement to present awards to the 80 volunteers in attendance.
Certificates were awarded to young people who had achieved 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 or 500 hours of volunteering, spending their time helping out at over 70 groups, clubs, schools and organisations across the isles over the past year. For 2017, the total number of recipients has grown to a record 160.
Eight volunteers also received a Summit award. This recognises a volunteer who has not only completed over 200 hours of volunteering, but has also gone above and beyond what is expected of them, making outstanding contributions to volunteering.
Kelvin Anderson, Rona Brookes, Holly Cole, Catriona Gilbertson, Thomas Hawick, Rachel Keay, Mariel Leask and Imogen Teale were all recipients of this certificate.
Each of these young people have gone the extra mile to help. For example, in over four years of volunteering with Disability Shetland’s ASN groups and Saturday clubs, Thomas Hawick has missed just six Saturdays.
Saltire Awards have been running in Shetland for five years. They are a way to formally recognise the commitment and contributions made by young people aged between 12 and 25, and are split into four sections: the Challenge, the Approach, the Ascent and the summit (each award section catering to different age groups and number of hours spent volunteering).
Closing the evening, Civico congratulated all of the volunteers and organisers for what was a “genuinely inspiring” event.
He said that the young people who volunteer help to make Shetland the special place and thriving community it is, and pointed out that the level of participation in Shetland is much higher than the national average, with 65 per cent of 12-25 years olds volunteering in some capacity locally, compared to a Scottish average of 52 per cent.
The ceremony was hosted by Voluntary Action Shetland. Youth volunteering development worker Neil Pearson praised the young volunteers, and said Shetland would be worse off without them.
He said: “Shetland is a community which depends on its volunteers, without them we would not have almost any of our community groups, sports groups, uniformed groups, festivals, community halls and events.
“The message has been clear for young Shetlanders and they have responded in kind by giving up their own free time to participate in volunteering opportunities.
“Shetland continues to break our own youth volunteering records year on year and it is down to the enthusiasm and importance our young people are placing on volunteering, they have a genuine desire to help our community thrive and we at Voluntary Action Shetland could not be more proud of their efforts.”