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Volunteers from across the region put on their best bib and tucker on Friday night for the online Argyll and Bute TSI Volunteer of the Year Awards.
A total of 78 nominations were made across the nine categories, with judges having a tough time selecting the winners due to the exceptionally high standard.
The Regional Hero awards were split into six areas – Helensburgh and Lomond, Cowal and Bute, The Islands, Mid Argyll, Oban and Lorn, Kintyre.
Steve Byrne from Campbeltown lifted the regional accolade for Kintyre.
Steve was nominated by Nona Ruesgen for his involvement with voluntary work spanning more than 25 years locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally.
He is involved with many organisations in the Kintyre area and on a regional level he was a member of the Fairer Argyll and Bute group.
He is one of the original Time Bank members in the region, donating more than 3,000 Time Bank hours to other organisations.
On a national level Steve helped to found the equine-based charity Katie’s Cradle, now Reanimate.
Speaking to the Courier after Friday night’s event Steve said: ‘I am delighted that the voluntary work I have been doing has been acknowledged by TSI on behalf of the community.
‘I would like to thank Cathie Duncan for getting me involved with voluntary work in the first place and the constant support she has given me over the years.
‘The Voluntary Sector is the only sector that would paralyse the country if they all decided to withdraw their labour and the Government must appreciate this.’
Takki Sulaiman, CEO of Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface, said: ‘We are lucky that in Argyll and Bute there is a strong culture of volunteering and during the past 18 months our communities benefitted from an increase in those coming forward as demand soared.
‘These awards provide a platform for acknowledging the important contribution of all volunteers and not just those who were lucky enough to win.’
Jenni Minto, MSP for Argyll and Bute, was one of the guest speakers on the night.
She said: ‘It was a real privilege to speak at the Argyll and Bute TSI Awards.
‘Volunteering has always been at the heart of how our communities work.
‘Before the pandemic a quarter of people in Argyll and Bute formally volunteered – with many, many more providing hours and hours of unrecorded volunteering.
‘We need to keep this volunteering spirit going, capture it, rejuvenate it and celebrate it.’
Also speaking on the night were Ishbel Smith (Founder of Heart in Mouth and trustee of Mary’s Meals), Andrew Nisbet (Chair of Live Argyll) and Pete McDill (Chair of Argyll and Bute TSI).
Winning the Mid Argyll Regional honours was Ronnie Johnstone whose work for the Tarbert Soup Group is legendary.
Ronnie was nominated by Heather Bellshaw as throughout the lockdown and beyond he delivered lunches to elderly people twice a week as well as sorting and delivering food boxes, driving the van around rural areas and supporting those in need. This
was always done with a cheery and positive attitude, a smile and a chat or a wave from the van.
‘He really worked hard and gave everything his all,’ said Heather.
Awards list in full
Covid Volunteer: Lily Davies and Lois Cook (Dunoon)
Helensburgh and Lomond Regional Hero: Fraser Gildea
Cowal and Bute Regional Hero: Lesley Slaven (Dunoon)
Islands Regional Hero: Kevin Byrne (Mull)
Mid Argyll Regional Hero: Ronnie Johnstone (Tarbert)
Oban and Lorn Regional Hero: Alan Macdougall (Oban)
Kintyre Regional Hero: Steve Byrne (Campbeltown)
Volunteer Sports Coach of the Year (over 25): Simon Kershaw Yates (Helensburgh)
Volunteer Young Sports Coach of the Year (12-25): Poppy MacKillop and Isla MacGillivray (Oban)
Young Primary Sports Leader of the Year: Faraid Winterton (Dunbeg)
Community Sporting Hero: Adventure Oban
Young Volunteer of the Year (under 25): Aiden Macleod (Oban)
Volunteer of the Year (over 25): Mary McGinley (Helensburgh)
Lifetime Achievement: Colin Morrison (Mull)