Angus local awarded for efforts to support dementia friendly walking

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A woman from Angus has won a volunteer award for her efforts to help people with dementia to get regular exercise by leading local walks.

Margaret Mackie won the award for her voluntary work with the dementia friendly health walk project run by Kirrie Connections Walking Group and national charity Paths for All.

Accessibility and inclusivity are an essential part of walking for Margaret, whose husband is living with dementia. Not only do the walks provide an opportunity for those with dementia to exercise but it also offers respite to those caring for those living with dementia.

Margaret Mackie has been recognised as the winner of the Dementia Friendly Walking Volunteer of the Year Award at the Paths for All Volunteer Awards 2021.

The Kirrie Connections Walking Group is a gentle dementia inclusive walk around Kirriemuir that is open to everyone and led by trained volunteers, like Margaret.

Margaret said: “I’m over whelmed with it all. I can’t believe it. I’m so please with my award but also that the centre gets recognition.”

Kirrie Connections is a dementia support hub based in Angus that works alongside Paths for All to ensure health walks continue to run and offer safe walking services.

Margaret said: “It’s a 24-hour job to look after my husband and it’s just a little bit of help, a bit of respite for me. I can’t thank Kirrie Connections enough.

“I’m grateful that there are projects like this where people like my husband can have a safe space to walk and converse with people.

“Dementia is such a lonely disease, so for a group of people to come together like this a few times a week is very important. It allows people with dementia to get time to socialise with others which they perhaps wouldn’t usually get.”

The Angus woman was commended at the awards ceremony which was held virtually for the second year and hosted by BBC Radio Scotland’s Fiona Stalker.

Margaret Mackie was among 11 different winners at the 12th annual Volunteer Awards that highlighted the outstanding work carried out by volunteers across the country.

The charity supports local authorities and communities to develop inclusive environments for people to be active; whether walking, cycling or wheeling.

Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Office at Paths for All, said: “Individuals like Margaret highlight the very reason why we host an annual awards ceremony.

“It is vital that we celebrate and shed light on the outstanding work that volunteers carry out in local communities across Scotland on a daily basis.

“Our volunteer’s invaluable contribution is directly working to improve the nation’s physical, mental and social health which has been evident throughout the pandemic, with many going above and beyond their normal duties.

“Hearing the inspirational stories during the award ceremony has highlighted that it is not just enough to say thank you – the work undertaken has provided a life line for many and for that we’re forever grateful.”

Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative to improve the mental, social and physical health of the country.

The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.

To find out more which Health Walks you can join in Angus, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/health-walks