A SELKIRK-based children’s project worker is one of three people who have made it onto the shortlist for a prestigious global humanitarian award named after Scotland’s bard Robert Burns.
Margaret Mills, who was awarded the MBE in the last Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for her work, has made a difference to hundreds of children and families.
She is joined on the shortlist by a couple who have dedicated their lives to others, at home and abroad – the Very Reverend Dr John and Mary Mills – and the late Khalil Dale MBE, an aid worker who was kidnapped and killed while working in Pakistan.
These are the three finalists for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2013 – supported by South Ayrshire Council and EventScotland – and which is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, which celebrate Scotland’s culture and heritage from St Andrew’s Day through until Burns Night.
The award recognises those who have saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through self-sacrifice, selfless service or ‘hands-on’ charitable work.
Whittling the 42 nominations down to the final three fell to the judging panel, chaired by David Anderson, chief executive of South Ayrshire Council.
Joining him on the panel were broadcaster Kaye Adams; actor, writer and painter John Cairney; Nat Edwards, director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum; former award winners Habib Malik and Guy Willoughby; Robert Stewart, president of the Robert Burns World Federation; and STV chief executive Rob Woodward.
A project worker with Children 1st (formerly the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children – RSSPCC), Margaret, who grew up in Leitholm, has worked for more than four decades to secure brighter futures for vulnerable children, including those recovering from sexual, emotional and physical abuse and trauma.
She was one of the first female inspectors at the RSSPCC and whether through setting up family centres or establishing support groups and mechanisms for children and families, she has worked to provide support where it is most needed.
Margaret says she was surprised and humbled to be nominated for such a prestigious award, adding: “From an early age, I always wanted to work with children and it has been a privilege to work with young people who have experienced abuse and trauma in their lives.
“The greatest reward is from those children who choose to engage with me and put their trust in this relationship.
“I am also rewarded by seeing the resilience that young people have and their ability to move forward with their lives, some after very traumatic and abusive experiences.
“This is a very prestigious award and I hope that, by making the shortlist, it has helped raise the profile of this field of work to ensure that all those children who need such services can access them.”
The winner of the 2013 award will be named at the awards ceremony in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum on Saturday, January 26.