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      Uist and Benbecula News

Two volunteers from SHARE in Daliburgh are to attend the King’s Garden Party on 2 July, as part of a package of accolades that go with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS).

The news was announced as volunteers took delivery of a beautifully engraved crystal, together with a bespoke certificate carrying the King’s arms and signature, with their name and citation inscribed by hand.

Lord Lieutenant Iain Macaulay was at a reception in Grogarry Lodge, South Uist on Friday (23 February) as over 40 volunteers and supporters celebrated the award, which he described as ‘the MBE for voluntary organisations.’

In the initial announcement of the award, the Western Isles lieutenancy said: “SHARE operates a thrift shop and café in Daliburgh, South Uist and reaches out to older people in the community, some of whom are lonely and isolated.

“It stands out for being a completely volunteer-led organisation that provides services which fill a gap in local service provision.

“It also reduces household expenditure on books and clothes and reduces the community’s carbon footprint.”

Today Iain told that the group had also distributed £90,000 to more than 70 local groups.

He said: “This is an amazing contribution, all achieved through an extraordinarily successful and well-operated volunteer group, located in a small rural and island community.

“SHARE is an organisation that is making a real difference, improving the quality of life of a whole community through a wholly volunteer initiative.

“It is an inter-generational, resilient, generous and popular organisation, providing a range of services and activities that are now well established and an integral part of the Uist community.

“SHARE highlights the key role played by volunteers in making life better for those around us and it is to be congratulated on its achievements and on this award. Everyone should feel very proud of everything they do and continue to achieve.”

Accepting the certificate and crystal on behalf of SHARE, chairperson Avril Campbell thanked all volunteers past and present and all those who supported the project from its beginnings nearly 25 years ago.

She said: “Thanks to those who give donations or who call in and use the shop, either through donations or through purchases in the shop.”

Avril and secretary Heather Smith had prepared copies of the King’s Award certificate in scroll form, bound in blue ribbon, for each volunteer – emphasising that this award was meant for every one of the volunteers involved in making the charity such a success.

Iain Macaulay said it would be a hard task for SHARE to decide which of their 40 deserving volunteers would receive the two invitations for the King’s Garden Party at Holyrood Palace on 2 July.

But Avril revealed that those due to attend had already been selected, with Rena Mason and Margaret Walker the volunteers now preparing for their date at the palace.

The scrolls were presented to all the volunteers by Deputy Lieutenant Angus MacIntyre and local councillor, Comhairle Leader Paul Steele.

Scrolls were also presented to Mary Schmoller, Dr Stephen Bird and Morag Mackinnon in appreciation of their role in nominating SHARE to begin with.

As the Lord Lieutenant said: “Often, the hardest part of being honoured is being nominated in the first place. It is therefore important to acknowledge and thank those who submitted the nomination and wrote support letters for their significant role in the whole process.”

In her nomination submission, Mary Schmoller said: “SHARE is an organisation that is volunteer-led and widely respected in the community, with a recruitment and training programme in place to ensure succession planning.

“I cannot think of a family who have not visited the Thrift Shop over the past 20 years.”

Support letters were also written by local GP Dr Stephen Bird and Morag Mackinnon. Dr Bird wrote: “The Thrift Shop and Tearoom provides such an important hub for the community and fully deserves to be offered the King’s Award for Voluntary Service.”

And Morag Mackinnon said: “Volunteers of the Thrift Shop always go out of their way to welcome people, providing much more than a cup of tea.

“They have created a vital hub helping people integrate, which is invaluable in an isolated community.”

After the presentation everyone enjoyed a superb dinner prepared by the Grogarry Lodge staff, with accordion music provided by talented youngster Liam Beaton from Hacklett, Benbecula.

The picture shows part of the presentation event at Grogarry Lodge, (left to right) secretary Heather Smith, Lord Lieutenant Iain Macaulay, SHARE chair Avril Campbell, Cllr Paul Steele and deputy Lord Lieutenant Angus MacIntyre, with some of the SHARE volunteers.