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Council awards honour pride of Ross-shire

By SPP Reporter

Seonaid Cooke of Marybank primary accepts her award from Jim Brophy of sponsors Fujitsu and ceremony compere Nicola McAlley
Seonaid Cooke of Marybank primary accepts her award from Jim Brophy of sponsors Fujitsu and ceremony compere Nicola McAlley

AN INSPIRING teacher, a “most remarkable” school janitor, parents who established a new play park and the team behind a festival for older people were all the pride of Ross-shire at a recent awards ceremony.

Highland Council held its Quality Awards last week when a host of employees and community projects were recognised for the significant contribution they have made over the last year.

Among the winners were four from Ross-shire, including Seonaid Cooke, a P1-3 teacher at Marybank Primary School who won the Innovation of the Year Award for her inspiration in devising and co-ordinating a Friendship Games.

The games involved pupils from her school and St Clements Special School in Dingwall and captured values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, allowing children of very different ability levels to work together for the benefit of everyone.

The project involved pupils deciding what kind of games and activities both schools could be involved in fairly, allowing for children in St Clements with physical and emotional needs to participate.

The Marybank pupils gained a greater understanding of pupils with special needs while the St Clements pupils showed just how much children of all capabilities can achieve.

The afternoon of sport was deemed a huge success and the legacy is that it will become an annual event.

Gairloch High School janitor Andrew Bowker was short-listed for Employee of the Year after being nominated by depute head teacher Nevis Hulme.

Nevis described Andrew as a “most remarkable” janitor, contributing far more than is required of his job in terms of time and effort. He is also a handyman and saves the school time and money by repairing all sorts of things, even musical instruments.

Nevis said: “Andy is always aware of what is going on around the school and freely gives of his time to support pupils and staff. His unfailingly cheerful demeanour makes him stand out as a highly valued part of the team. His reputation goes before him to our partner school in Malawi and Comenius partners in Europe. I have never heard a bad word about him from staff or pupils. We are all delighted to put Andy forward for this award. It would be well deserved.”

The Chairman’s Award went to PARK - Place for Rosemarkie Active Kids - which was set up in May last year when a group of parents came together to raise the £80,000 needed to replace the dated equipment which had been removed from the old play park the year before.

As well as money from local events, funding was secured from the Highland LEADER programme, the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Common Good Fund, The Highland Council’s Black Isle ward discretionary budget as well as many national, international and local businesses.

In total £89,000 was raised and right on schedule on June 2 this year the new park was officially opened.

Winner of Working Together for Caring Communities was the working group which proposed, planned and delivered a Festival for Older People in the Black Isle in September 2011.

The group is also currently overseeing the production of ‘My Black Isle”, a colourful directory of many activities and services for older people, the final draft of which has met with widespread acclaim.

The buzz around the project is enabling older people to work with services and community groups to enhance the quality of their lives and ensures the council is better prepared to meet the challenges and take the opportunities afforded by the rapid aging of the population.

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