A young man with learning difficulties who got on his bike to deliver support to a Borders village has received much-deserved national recognition.
Elliot Ballantyne delivers bags of kindling on his tricycle around Bonchester Bridge, offering a valuable service to the community he lives in on behalf of the Borders Green Team, a social enterprise project which provides employment and training to adults with learning disabilities in the Scottish Borders.
Since embarking on his role, both Elliot’s confidence and fitness have improved immensely.
Now the 36-year-old has been awarded a highly recommended commendation in the community enterprise section at the Scottish Learning Disability Awards 2019, in recognition of his dedicated service.
John Spiteri, local area coordinator with the Learning Disability Service, believes the recognition is thoroughly deserved.
He said: “Elliot was one of the founding members of the green team many years ago and he was quite keen to increase their sales and, living in a rural area, we don’t have gas or anything like that, so people rely very much on solid fuel heating.
“He’s a very positive person and has overcome his own difficulties very cheerfully. We’ve seen a big improvement in his confidence, but also his fitness through cycling around the village. The way he carries himself, the way he walks, the way he’s able to speak to people, it’s all improved, and it’s all for the better and it’s all been motivated by Elliot, really.”
Angela Ramage, community link worker with the Local Area Coordination Service, who nominated Elliot for the community enterprise award, said: “Elliot is a young gentleman that helps out here in Bonchester. The Green Team come along with Elliot’s kindling and drop in off in the back of his yard.”
Since 2014 to 2018, Elliot’s kindling sales have doubled.
Angela added: “He can sell anything to anybody. He’s even been known to sell kindling to people who have no need for kindling.”
Elliot said: “It just depends what the weather is and folk phone me up when they want it. I normally get a delivery twice a week, it just depends on how much I’ve sold.
“For weeks I thought I had not made the final, that I’d missed out, and then Angela told me I had done it.”