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Online ceremony will celebrate Covid-19 community champions in Kyle of Sutherland area of north Highlands

By Caroline McMorran

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Community champions in the Kyle of Sutherland area who went "above and beyond" during the coronavirus pandemic will be recognised at an online awards ceremony tonight.

The celebration, which will be hosted by Sutherland MSP Maree Todd, will pay tribute to seven organisations and 25 individuals from the area who were nominated by the public for the work they undertook to help their communities during the initial Covid-19 lockdown from March to July 2020.

Councillor Deirdre Munro, East Sutherland and Edderton, will attend virtually as will her north, west and central Sutherland counterpart Cllr Linda Munro.

There will also be music from the Calum McIlroy Trio.

SSE Renewables organised the non-competitive Kyle of Sutherland and Lairg Volunteer Awards in partnership with the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT), Lairg and District Community Initiatives (LDCI) and Voluntary Groups Sutherland (VGS).

KoSDT manager David Watson said: "The ceremony is to thank people in a more personal way and as a wee celebration. It is going to be about recognition and fun, something that has been in short supply recently."

The organisations whose efforts are being recognised are: Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust; Bradbury Centre, Bonar Bridge; Culrain and District Hall; Rosehall Village Help Group; Invershin Hall; and Sutherland Friends Call, which is delivered by Voluntary Groups Sutherland.

Twenty-five individuals volunteering for these organisations are also being celebrated for making a difference – 16 from the Kyle of Sutherland area and nine from the Lairg area.

SSE Renewables’ community fund manager Fiona Morrison, said: “The awards are an opportunity to thank volunteers from across the three community council areas of Ardgay and District, Creich and Lairg who responded immediately to the Covid-19 emergency from March 2020.

“They helped people in different local communities with everything from picking up prescriptions, to making and delivering hot meals and bringing them shopping.

“Sometimes they were there just available to have a blether, but without the volunteers and support from these organisations, many people living in these communities would have really struggled to get through lockdown.”

MSP Maree Todd said: “The past two years has been a difficult time for a lot of people and that is why it is so heartening and humbling to see these organisations and those volunteering selflessly putting others before themselves during the pandemic.

“I am very impressed by the level of kindness and generosity that these people have shown their friends and neighbours.”

Councillor Linda Munro said: “It is so touching to see these community organisations pulling together and helping people in need in what has been a unique and challenging time of adversity.

“I’m glad that we’re taking the opportunity to recognise their good work and to celebrate their worthwhile efforts.”

David Watson, KoSDT manager and vice-chairman of the Kyle of Sutherland Locality Group, said: “When the pandemic first impacted on our communities in March 2020, it was a really anxious time as we struggled to come to terms with an unknown threat to our way of life. At this time, we were all encouraged to stay apart and isolate ourselves.

“However, many local residents wanted to help the more vulnerable and isolated, and support others in any way they could. This is the sign of a strong and resilient community, and I am really happy to see the contribution of these selfless individuals during such a challenging time recognised.”

The Kyle of Sutherland and Lairg Volunteer Awards will be streamed online from 7pm on Tuesday, November 30. Click here to access the Facebook page.

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