Amanda Funtastic fitness instructor, St Boswells.

BEM a fitting award for St Boswells mum

A St Boswells mum who has dedicated almost two decades to improving the fitness of pensioners in the area has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Former nurse Amanda Richard, pictured, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in delivering keep-fit, yoga and pilates classes to older Borderers in village halls and care homes.

She said: “Working as a district nurse, I saw how much time people spent in nursing homes either sitting or sleeping, and I decided I wanted to go into homes and do seated exercise classes for the residents.

“When you go in at the start they often don’t want to try or do anything, but the atmosphere changes completely when I put the music on and get the equipment out – they’re joining in before you know it.”

Amanda lives in the village with husband Chris and has two grown-up sons and a daughter.

“It would be nice to know who nominated me so I can personally thank them because it’s such an honour,” she added.

z Glenda Watt, of West Linton, co-ordinator of the Scottish Older People’s Assembly, will receive an OBE for services to older people.

z Catherine Johnston, from Ladykirk, Berwickshire, has been rewarded for her work in the community with a British Empire Medal.

Borders Men's Shed Development Officer Ross Hall (back row, centre) with members of Kelso Men's Shed.

Borderers shedding light on health and well-being benefits

The growing Men’s Shed movement in the Borders offers males (and females) the opportunity to come together, pursue hobbies, and share skills and experience.

In this region there are 10 sheds at varying degrees of development (Eyemouth, Coldstream, Duns, Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick, Kelso, Jedburgh, Lauder and Peebles) with more than 470 members. There is growing evidence of the benefits Men’s Sheds have on health and well-being, and research has shown that those involved live healthier, happier and more contented lives.

In 2018 – with funding from Scottish Borders Council (SBC), NHS Borders, Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA), Eildon Housing, Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) and Waverley Housing – Volunteer Centre Borders (VCB) agreed to host and manage a new post of development officer, as a joint initiative, to work directly with existing and developing sheds, communities and interested organisations.

Ross Hall, from Galashiels, was appointed to the role and he has already proved a great help to existing Men’s Sheds, learning about particular issues they have and working with them to resolve problems.

He explained: “The Borders Men’s Sheds Network was a loose collection of around 280 signed up ‘Shedders’ in six towns.

“Following a public meeting, supported by NHS Borders Healthy Living Network, Age Scotland and VCB, Gala Men’s Shed was the first to open in 2014, followed closely by the Jed Shed, Hawick, Coldstream, Eyemouth and Selkirk Community Shed.”

The development officer said all the sheds obtained charitable status and they work because they allow men to gather socially, regularly and safely.

“They are a grass-roots movement, built from the ground up by local men and the community.

“The huge increase in ‘Shedders’ can be attributed to the joint working streams in process between the Borders Shed Network and the current funders. Without this support several of the newer sheds may have struggled.”

Ross added: “Clearly without the support of the housing associations some of the sheds would struggle to continue in their present form.

“Since I have been in post (November 2018), four new sheds have evolved. Often referred to as Men’s Community Sheds they are now open in Kelso, Peebles, Duns and Lauder. One of our sheds has a 33% ladies membership, a hugely positive step.”

z Pictured, Men’s Shed development officer Ross Hall (back row, centre) with members of Kelso Men’s Shed.

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