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Community stalwarts recognised with civic awards at inaugural Alness Gala 24 event


By Niall Harkiss

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Community Champion awards were presented to Christel Mackintosh, Grace Lennox and Mike Stainke at Saturday's Alness Gala, as well as Sophie Hynd and Tommy Regan (not pictured).
Community Champion awards were presented to Christel Mackintosh, Grace Lennox and Mike Stainke at Saturday's Alness Gala, as well as Sophie Hynd and Tommy Regan (not pictured).

Five community stalwarts from Alness have been recognised at an inaugural ceremony ahead of the town’s first Gala this past weekend.

The recipients were presented with their “community champion” awards as part of a series of Alness Gala 24 celebrations taking place on Saturday.

Alness Community Council created the Alness community civic awards to recognise people in the Easter Ross town who have gone above and beyond to help the community.

Among this year’s winners were former teacher and Heritage Centre custodian Michael Stainke, Alness United chairman Tommy Regan, Alness pupil and community volunteer Sophie Hynd, and Grace Lennox and Christel Macintosh, who for many years have looked after the town’s flower displays.

A “long service” award was also presented to Una MacIntosh by the Gala committee, in recognition of over 60 years of volunteering in Alness and Invergordon.

In a statement on Facebook, the group noted: “As a community, we want to recognize the hard work and community spirit of the dedicated volunteers who work behind the scenes and make invaluable contributions to the civic life of our town.

“This year, we are honouring five worthy recipients, marking the beginning of what we hope will become an annual event in our civic calendar.”

Among this year’s winners were:

Sophie Hynd

The first award announced was for Alness Academy pupil Sophie Hynd — the recipient of the inaugural “Youth Community Service Award”.

Already recognised at a national level for over 2000 hours of volunteering with youth organisations in the Alness community, Sophie was named for the award in recognition of her contribution as a “community champion”.

Award winning youth volunteer Sophie Hynd, who has contributed over 2000 hrs of volunteering to youth work in the local community.
Award winning youth volunteer Sophie Hynd, who has contributed over 2000 hrs of volunteering to youth work in the local community.

Having already been presented with a Saltire Award and the prestigious Youth Volunteer of the Year Award at the Highland Third Sector Awards, the new civic award

Adding to her achievements, she has also been named as head girl at Alness Academy for this last academic year.

Ms Hynd’s award was presented by Gala chair Robert Adair in a special ceremony at the school last week.

Grace Lennox & Christel Macintosh

Working all hours in all weathers to maintain the High Street and beyond, Grace Lennox and Christel Macintosh each received a civic award in recognition of their countless hours spent helping to make Alness look “blooming marvellous”.

Michael Stainke

Noted as a stalwart of the Alness community for his work as editor of the Alness and District Times and as a custodian of the history and heritage of Alness, Michael Stainke was named as the fourth Civic Award recipient.

Michael Stainke, chair of the Alness Community Association and editor of the Alness and District Times.
Michael Stainke, chair of the Alness Community Association and editor of the Alness and District Times.

Also serving as chairperson to the Alness Community Association, while helping to look after the Heritage Centre and its community minibus, Mike is fondly remembered for his time as a schoolteacher and long-time sports advocate, whether it be cross country, the basketball court or on the football pitch.

Tommy Regan of Alness United, recognised for his services to sport in Alness.
Tommy Regan of Alness United, recognised for his services to sport in Alness.

Tommy Regan

The last of the Gala’s Civic Awards was presented to Tommy Regan, long time chairman and coach of Alness United football club.

A testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion that he has poured into developing football at both the local and regional levels over many, the civic award has been well received by many former players and coaches associated with the long-standing Alness club.

Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Joanie Whiteford, who presented three of the awards on Saturday, said: “I was delighted to be invited to present the inaugural Community Champion awards at Alness Gala.

“All those presented were thoroughly deserving and have done so much to make Alness the great community it is.

“What is really special is that those who have volunteered for many years are setting an example to the younger generation, and now we have a number of competent young volunteers, as illustrated by Sophie, who are improving the lives of others in the community.

“Hopefully they will in turn inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

“None of those receiving awards expect recognition or thanks, they have quietly served their community in a variety of ways, for so many years, therefore it is wonderful to see their work and dedication recognised and appreciated.

“It was fantastic to see Alness Gala so well supported by the community and the performances of DNA Dancers, Anne Noble School of Dance and Fyrish Gymnasts were superb and involved so many of the towns youngsters.

“Well done to the hard working committee for reinstating this hugely important event, which I hope will become a fixture in the calendar for many years to come.”


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