HEALTH chiefs today unveil a plaque to celebrate volunteers, writes Sally Gillespie.
NHS Borders has won the Investing in Volunteers (IiV) Award for its commitment to supporting and valuing volunteers.
Board chairwoman Mary Wilson, a Volunteer Development Scotland representative, and volunteers from across the region will attend the ceremony at Borders General Hospital chaplaincy centre this morning.
NHS Borders public involvement and communications manager Stephen Bermingham said: “Volunteers are massively important to us and the award is testimony to the significant contribution they make. But it also recognises the high level of support they receive from staff and management at NHS Borders.”
There are four main areas in which people give their time – to the healthy living network (which encourages and supports healthy activities in communities), to cancer information, support and services, the chaplaincy and in public involvement groups which give people’s perspective on how NHS Borders is doing.
One of the local health service’s longest-serving volunteers is 91-year-old Mollie McIntosh MBE from Walkerburn.
Her latest contribution is to help set up and run the over-50s lunch club in the Tweeddale village under the auspices of the healthy living network.
She said: “It’s been very therapeutic for people, getting people out and together to chat about things.”
She, five other female volunteers and the network’s Nichola Sewell now regularly see up to 40 at the club which also organises carpet bowls and armchair exercise.
“We all enjoy being volunteers – we have a chat while we prepare food when we do the lunches, so it’s good for both the people coming and the volunteers who see the end result.
“To me volunteering is absolute job satisfaction. It gets you involved with other people, I love it and I have done it since my 20s. It’s not for everybody but I thrive on it and will continue.”
Mollie’s volunteering is lifelong, for she was already on the village’s festival committee (in 1934) when she was refused permission to enlist with the Women’s Royal Naval Service (because her work at the local mill was considered a reserved occupation), so she helped set up a canteen for troops billeted in Walkerburn.
She joined the WRVS in 1938 and became a driver for them and for the Red Cross until she was 75.
“That was the initial way I was involved with NHS, driving patients to hospital if they didn’t need an ambulance,” she said.
She was on the former health council for several years and is a current member of the Innerleithen patient participation group.
Tweeddale Citizen of the Year in 2009, Mollie is also chairman of Walkerburn Public Hall, vice-chairman of the village community council, which she joined in 1975, a member of the Peeblesshire branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland and she was vice-president of the Tweeddale Association of Voluntary Organisations for 13 years. She was awarded the MBE in 1991.