Charity PR photography

Volunteer wins award for path transformation in The Scottish Borders

Paths for All Press releases

Volunteer wins award for path transformation in The Scottish Borders

Paths for All Press releases

A borders volunteer has gained an award after his improvements to walking routes

Charity PR photography Ian Gibb

A LOCAL volunteer has been recognised for his dedication to developing and maintaining walking paths in Earlston that’s contributing to improving the health of many in his local community.

Ian Gibb, who co-founded the Earlston Paths Group, has been recognised as the winner of Community Path Volunteer of the Year at Paths for All’s Volunteer Awards 2021.

Since retiring from Royal Mail in 2001, Ian has been working to develop and then keep the path routes in Earlston in top form ensuring they are accessible for locals and visitors to enjoy.

He said: “I have always enjoyed walking and when I retired it was important that I kept myself busy. That’s why in 2005, I decided to form the group along with my co-founder Jack, who is sadly no longer with us, to develop existing and new walking routes in the area.

“There is plenty of banter when we go out to work on the paths and it gives us a chance to meet new people like contractors, the Paths for All team, local walkers and people visiting the area; it’s great to build new relationships with these people and hear their story.  

“The group is made up of ten volunteers, each contributing in their own way. As well as that, when we have larger projects on the go we are fortunate that more people in the community come out and help.”

The Earlston Paths Group gives up their own time to develop and maintain a sustainable and accessible local path network in the area.

Ian said “During the Covid restrictions there was a big increase in numbers using our network because walking was one of the few activities people could do to sustain their health and wellbeing.

 “A lot of the footpaths we maintain became a lifeline. There is a path that goes by my home and it was like a race track from seven in the morning to the night time.

“You were able to meet other walkers and chat, while still obeying social distancing rules.

“The community has really taken ownership of the paths too, if anything happens like broken steps, handrails, bridges or even a fallen tree, they know I’m the one to call.

The group have not met in person for the past 18 months due to the pandemic. Ian will be meeting up with the others to watch the awards ceremony as well as celebrate the group’s 16-year anniversary.

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

Ian 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 Ian 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 the Scottish Borders, visit:

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