Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has recognised the outstanding voluntary contributions made by two long serving stalwarts of their respective communities in Arrochar and Strachur as well as Forest Holidays who have supported a number of practical initiatives to make a difference for the benefit of people in Scotland's first National Park.
At the charity's recent annual general meeting, awards were given to Mary Haggarty, the long service Secretary of Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Community Council and Evie Campbell of Strachur for her contribution to the Lauder Cowal connections and Lauder Monument restoration programme over the last few years.
Mary, very appropriately, received the Hannah Stirling National Park Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her hard work, commitment and outstanding service over 58 years in a variety of voluntary youth, community and heritage roles in the Arrochar and Tarbet area. There are very few aspects of community life and projects Mary has not been involved in through her activities as a youth club leader, Secretary of the Community Council, Chair of the local Heritage Group, a members of the Communty Campus Group and many other groups trying to improve local facilities and services for residnets and visitors.
The Hannah Stirling National Park Lifetime Achievement Award was established by the Friends in 2015 in honour of its late former President.
I was delighted to receive this prestigious award from the Friends and it came as a complete surprise that my efforts on behalf of my local community over many years were recognised in this way. Having met with Hannah on the volunteer circuit locally over 50 years ago and many times since I was deeply touched to receive this award in her memory.
The Friends also recognised the efforts of Strachur woman Evie Campbell who was a District Nurse and Midwife Health Visitor in Cowal for almost 30 years but has also been heavily involved in many aspects of community life in a voluntary capacity including the Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop and Strachur Memorial Hall. Evie was particularly recognised for her efforts in recent years coordinating and delivering a very memorable concert in Strachur to mark the Sir Harry Lauder and Cpt John Lauder connections with Cowal and for helping deliver a moving ceremony to commemorate the restoration and rededication of the Lauder Monument at Invernoaden last December which was a flagship Friends project. She received the Gavin Arneil Volunteer of the Year Award.
I was honoured to receive this award for my contribution along with many others in the local community to marking the Lauder Cowal Connections and the completion of the Friends restoration and improvement project at the Lauder Monument which was erected many years ago in memory of Cpt John Lauder who was tragically killed in the First World War a month after his father had purchased Glenbranter Estate for him as an engagement present.
The Friends also recognised Forest Holidays with the National Park Business Supporter of the Year award in recognition of their contribution to community projects, litter volunteering events and sponsorship of youth engagement initiatives which have enriched and empowered the lives of many youngsters living in the National Park. Forest Holidays have developed very successful clusters of high quality self-catering lodges in forest settings at Ardgartan and Strathyre.
Friends Chairman James Fraser said:
All of these award winners are fully worthy of their recognition and we are grateful for the respective ways in which they have helped to make a real difference around the National Park, whether it is campaigning for specific improvement projects, supporting youth inititatives, organising local events or taking part in litter clearance work to keep Scotland's first National Park beautiful. We are always on the look out for volunteers and businesses to become involved with the Friends and anybody interested in doing this in either capacity is welcome to get in touch. We congratulate all of our award winners this year and commend their efforts.