Council host awards to celebrate community champions

Alistair Blakey is congratulated by the Lord Provost.

Alistair Blakey is congratulated by the Lord Provost.

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A MAN dubbed the “lone ranger” for his single-handed efforts to keep the Capital litter-free has been honoured with a new award.

Alistair Blakey was one of four winners named in the city council’s inaugural Good Neighbour Awards, which have been launched to celebrate “inspirational” commitment to the community.

He was nominated for his “tireless” work to clear tonnes of debris from Jewel Park, which has seen him hand-picking mountains of rubbish.

Alistair was presented with his award at a special reception held at the City Chambers.

He said: “I really enjoyed the reception. I’ve never won anything like this in my life and I was very flattered to be nominated.”

The father-of-seven’s efforts were sparked in 2013 when he found 70 used hypodermic needles in woodland near his home in Bingham Crossway.

Other successes from his community clean-ups include a reclaimed pathway that was previously overgrown and a de-weeded football pitch.

Alistair has also regularly sieved through the Niddrie and Bingham Burn, with items previously scooped out including shopping trolleys and bikes.

He said previously: “I don’t want glory. All I want is a clean environment, not just for me but for the other people who use the park.”

His award comes after the News also set out to help clean up the Capital with its ongoing Bin Watch campaign.

However, Alistair wasn’t the only one to be crowned a winner at the 2016 awards.

Three others – Linda Orr, Sandra Seaton and Jackie Brunton – were also recognised for their help, such as picking up prescriptions or shopping or doing housework for others.

Linda and Jackie were presented with their trophies alongside Alistair by Lord Provost Donald Wilson, while Sandra will get hers at a later date.

Presenting the awards, Cllr Wilson said: “I am delighted to present these awards here in the civic heart of the city as people like you are the heart of the city.

“Wanting to help those around you makes you the sort of people who make Edinburgh the great city that it is.

“You are the glue that holds our community together and makes the world a better place.”

In total 20 nominations were received and a panel of volunteer tenant judges and housing staff selected the winners.

Cllr Joan Griffiths, vice convener for health, social care and housing, led the tributes.

She said: “Despite often facing real hardship and challenges themselves, our tenants continue to inspire us with their commitment to looking after their neighbours and local communities.

“I was delighted to present these awards. This is the first time the council has run the competition and it was great to see so many nominations.

“These acts of kindness and neighbourliness, however big or small, make a real difference to our communities and the council looks forward to 
repeating the contest next year.”

The awards were organised by the council’s tenant panel, in partnership with Capital Credit Union.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk