Volunteers from my charity, including myself, were honoured to be invited to The Ayrshire Community Trust’s Adult Volunteer Recognition Awards a few weeks ago.

These awards are for anyone over the age of 25 who actively volunteers and therefore contributes to our local area. (TACT also has their Saltire Awards for volunteers under the age of 25).

If you’ve given up 25-49 hours of your time volunteering, you could qualify for an AVRA Bronze award. If you have volunteered for 50-99 hours, you could get a Silver award. 100-199 hours qualifies you for a Gold award and 200 plus hours earns you a Platinum award.

Now, something I didn’t know, is that Palladium (the precious metal, not the London concert hall) is one of the rarest metals on Earth and so this metal has been chosen by TACT to represent the rarest of all volunteers – those people who have committed over 200 hours volunteering AND have shown an “outstanding contribution to the community”.

At the awards presentation ceremony held at Whitlees Community Centre in Ardrossan, there were, amazingly, fifteen Palladium award winners. These winners were presented with their award by the leader of North Ayrshire Council, Cllr Marie Burns.

Of the other awards, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum certificates were presented by both Cllr Marie Burns and by North Ayrshire Provost, Anthea Dickson.

Our charity was lucky enough to have three Palladium winners (Barbara Pokryszka, Yvette Robertson and myself) and one Gold winner (Steven Grant) and we were delighted by the support shown to us on the night. But what surprised me most was the sheer volume of volunteers present – sixty five not including guests and, more importantly, how many hours this equates to; a staggering 20,000 hours of free service to our community. Isn’t that astounding?

Without this dedication to organisations and groups across the whole of North Ayrshire, services would struggle to cope or worse, cease to exist.

My mother was also present at the awards ceremony and was in tears with pride, not just for me, but for everyone present. She reminded me that she had volunteered in another council area for over thirty years and never once received a formal “Thank you”. She couldn’t believe that TACT had arranged these awards, with all the balloons and red carpet, for volunteers in North Ayrshire.

So, I would like to say a huge “thank you” to not just our own volunteers but to all the volunteers in our area, who give up their free time for our benefit, and also to Kaileigh Brown and her team at TACT for taking the time to recognise these volunteers. It doesn’t take much to say thank you. It is, after all, only a certificate. A piece of paper. But it means a huge amount to those who receive it, so thank YOU.

If you haven’t nominated someone for an Adult Volunteer Recognition Award yet, don’t delay

Contact TACT on 01294 443044 or email them at info@tact.scot.

Many thanks once again to TACT and Whitlees Community Centre for a great night, and remember…stay safe.