Award winner Gemma is Tuesday Club’s ray of sunshine

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Like getting an early Christmas present, was how Gemma Macleod from Fort William described finding out she had won a Saltire Summit Award for her decade of volunteering.

Last Thursday evening Voluntary Action Lochaber and the Highland Third Sector interface hosted the awards, which are for young people aged between 12 and 25 across Highland who have made an outstanding contribution to volunteering.

Lochaber constituency MSP Kate Forbes attended as guest speaker and to show her
support for the Saltire awards and all the young volunteers.

Gemma, 24, has been volunteering for the Tuesday Social Club in Fort William every week for nine years, latterly while also working full time.

The Tuesday Social Club is a group of senior ladies that meet for tea, cake, games and day trips. Gemma always makes the ladies laugh and smile and she is one of the main
reasons they say they attend the Tuesday Club and they have described Gemma as a ‘ray of sunshine’ and ‘such a kind soul’.

All the ladies at the club nominated her for young volunteer of the year in 2019 and she won an award at Voluntary Actions VOSCARS.

During lockdown the club had to close, but Gemma went the extra mile and delivered hampers at Christmas to the ladies and stood socially distanced and chatted to the ladies in all weather conditions.

At Easter she delivered gifts and would chat socially distanced, making lockdown more bearable for the ladies who were shielding and not able to leave the house.

Gemma would often be the only person the ladies would see and she always brightened up their isolation while shielding.

The ladies enjoyed a special lunch as part of St Andrews Day, and although last year there were Covid restrictions, Gemma delivered afternoon tea to every member, to their delight.

The panel of judges highlighted that Gemma has shown outstanding commitment over the years, especially during the pandemic.

Dani Drummon, volunteer development officer for Voluntary Action Lochaber who hosted the event, commented: ‘It is clear that Gemma has a genuine, caring nature with a passion for volunteering and is an excellent role model and mentor for all young people.’

Giving her reaction to receiving the award, Gemma told the Lochaber Times: ‘I didn’t know that I had been entered for the award and it was a really nice surprise when I heard about it.

‘It was like getting an early Christmas present and everyone was very impressed when they saw it was signed by Nicola Sturgeon.

‘It was also really nice that Kate Forbes congratulated me in person during the online meeting and then the certificate arrived in the post.

‘I am always happy to help out. Everyone is really nice and I enjoy their company. I also join in their activities and must thank them for the support for me getting the award.’