Neil Scott has been rewarded for his work in setting up and leading a successful group which is part of Scotland’s recreational running network to encourage people to get healthy.
The 45-year-old started jogscotland’s running group in Haddington with two friends six years ago.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength, and has even reversed the fortunes of the town’s once-struggling athletics club, which has received a steady stream of new members from the jogging group.
Neil has been named by the network as Jog Leader of the Year 2016 for Scotland. His nomination came from members of the group, who praised him as “encouraging, knowledgeable and selfless”.
He was particularly praised for the faith he shows in his members’ abilities – one of his nominators said: “He just simply believes you can do it, which often means people achieve much more than they think they are capable of.”
The group, which meets several times a week for sociable jogging sessions led by trained jog leaders, has welcomed everyone from complete beginners to experienced runners.
Neil, who works as a rehabilitation engineer which sees him designing assistive devices for people with disabilities, says he is proud of every member, whatever their achievements
He said: “When we started the group, we sat down and agreed that however the group developed, we must always cater for a new person who comes along, the person who says ‘I’m not good enough to run’ – we try and create an atmosphere where we say ‘Yes you can – if you want to do it, we’ll support you.’
“You just glow inside, just watching it – you’ve got guys saying ‘I can’t do 5K’ and then you see them get up and do it.”
His dedication is all the more remarkable given that he suffered a stroke in 2014, temporarily losing his sight, and was unsure if he would ever be able to run again.
After receiving reassurance from his doctor, he came back even more determined to give his best to his jog group members. He said: “I think the first thing I said to my doctor was ‘Can I run?’ He said that my blood pressure was fine and it was a one-off incident. I walked out of the stroke unit after only a week, and thought ‘I’ve had a bit of luck and I’m going to make sure I help other people’.”
Speaking about his leader award, Neil said: “It’s a huge sense of achievement, and it’s for the group, it’s not really for me.”
jogscotland spokeswoman Sue Gyford said: “We’re delighted to recognise Neil’s dedication with this award.
“He has worked tremendously hard to create this thriving jogging group, which values every member, from complete beginners to ultramarathon runners.
“His positivity, encouragement and energy have changed the lives of so many of his members.”