West Dunbartonshire walking enthusiast wins award for stepping up during pandemic

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Balloch local has won an inspirational award for her dedication and efforts in supporting 250 walkers and volunteers throughout lockdown.

Fran Crumley has been recognised as Project Coordinator of the Year for managing the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Countryside Trust Walk in the Park programme at the 2021 Paths for All Volunteer Awards.

The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Countryside Trust Walk in the Park programme currently hosts six walking groups across the National Park which support over 250 walkers.

The programme aims to reconnect the walkers to their local community, rebuilding their health in a supportive and social environment through health walking while utilising the beautiful surroundings of the park.

Fran who is the Senior Health Walk Coordinator for the programme has worked hard to expand the programme, developing training programmes to allow new volunteers to gain the skills and confidence to become walk leaders as well as assisting in adding two additional walking groups since joining the organisation six years ago.

Playing a crucial role in keeping the group connected during lockdown, Fran quickly moved the weekly meet-ups online so walkers and volunteers could still stay connected and encouraged them to stay active.

Fran said, “I have always been a walker even from a young age so I know personally how getting out walking can affect both your mental and physical health.

“We really try and support members of the community and build their confidence around walking. When lockdown hit we really felt it was important to keep social connections going, especially being from a rural community it can be isolating.”

Keeping on top of the ever-changing Covid restrictions, Fran worked tirelessly to get the groups out and walking again, while ensuring that guidelines were always being met.

“The award means a huge amount to me. I’m really overwhelmed and thrilled that people took the time to put me forward for the award. It’s just amazing to be acknowledged by everyone.”

Dave Beaumont, Chair of the Trust added. “I was so pleased for Fran when I was told of this thoroughly well-deserved award.  Fran has put so much into the Walk in The Park project over the years and the way she kept the activities and social contacts going through lock down was exceptional.

“Fran is a superb ambassador for the Countryside Trust and on behalf of the Board and Fran’s colleagues I congratulate her on this achievement”.

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

Fran 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 Fran 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 West Dunbartonshire, visit: www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder