Denise scoops national award

Paths for All Volunteer Manager of the Year Denise Carmichael, left, with broadcaster Mark Stephen and Sports Minister Shona Robison
Paths for All Volunteer Manager of the Year Denise Carmichael, left, with broadcaster Mark Stephen and Sports Minister Shona Robison

A JEDBURGH woman promoting health walks in the Borders has won a national volunteer award.

For Denise Carmichael, organiser of Scottish Borders Council’s Walking for Health project, Walk It, lifted the Volunteer Manager of the Year title at the charity Paths for All ceremony in the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday night.

Denise said: “I’m absolutely delighted and have been very pleased with the progress made on the project. It shows great partnership working can happen. However, it only works with the great efforts and dedication of the walk leaders who give their time to it, so my thanks go to them.”

Originally from Jedburgh, Denise had a 22-year business career in IT and education before returning to the Borders to take over Walk It in 2009 when there were just five health walks and six volunteer walk leaders – now there are 23 walks offered by 72 leaders.

There has been a nearly four-fold (360 per cent) increase) in people attending and a recent study found that for every £1 invested in the Walk It project, there was a social return of £8.

This year, Denise added the Walk It Further series to allow people to progress to more challenging walks.

Kevan Sanderson, from NHS Borders, who jointly manages the project with Scottish Borders Council, said: “A significant factor in the strength of the project has been Denise’s skills with people.

“Not only is she an inspiration to her walk leaders, she has developed excellent links with a wide range of staff and professionals in many settings. Denise’s drive ensures that volunteers and participants continue to enjoy the benefits of walking.”

Last Wednesday’s ceremony was chaired by broadcaster Mark Stephen and the awards were presented by MSP Shona Robison, minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport.

Volunteer walk leader Cindy Armstrong, who leads the large, mixed-ability group at the Peebles Walk It Monday morning health walk, was one of the finalists in the Health Walk Volunteer of the Year.