Motivator Margaret walks off with prize

Margaret with her volunteer award
Margaret with her volunteer award
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A volunteer who took steps to get city council staff walking more often has landed an award for her efforts.

Margaret Meechan, who works as part of the Local Community Planning Team, was named Workplace Volunteer of the Year 2013 at an awards ceremony held at the Scottish Parliament, for her role as “walking motivator” at Edinburgh City Council.

She was born in 1959 in Armadale and attended Armadale Academy, which she left at the age of 17 to become a civil servant.

A career in the Post Office began in 1980, four years before she met her husband, Robert. One of their favourite ways to spend time together was to go on long walks and Margaret’s eyes were soon opened to the health benefits.

During a career of 26 years at the Post Office, Margaret used her spare time effectively in becoming an accomplished golfer, dancer and gardener.

But golf would soon prove a good walk spoiled as the idea of forming a walking group came to Margaret’s mind as her interest in health and wellbeing grew.

She began volunteering with good causes, most notably with the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association, and soon took that attitude into the workplace.

She formed a walking group in her department at the city council and its membership grew rapidly. One favourite for members is a stroll around Corstorphine Hill, with Leith another hot spot for the walkers.

Members will now bypass several stops on their way to work before finally boarding their bus, while others’ routine is to head out for a lunchtime stroll.

Margaret says there have been social benefits for colleagues too, adding: “It’s a great opportunity to chat and get to know one another. Recent recruits say how good it is to get out of the office and clear their head. You can then return to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new task.”

Margaret received her award from Shona Robison MSP, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, and broadcaster Mark Stephen.

The cash prize she landed will be invested in health books, fruit and a smoothie machine for her department.

Local Community Planning Team colleague Saty Kaur said: “I now walk an hour to work and back three times a week due to her enthusiasm. She recruits new staff regularly to our walking group, inspires us to sign up for walking events, and takes us all on new walks exploring the local hills, parks and communities. We have participated in local clean-up events.

“She even recruited us for the Corporate Decathalon Scottish Dancing challenge last year, with regular lunch time practices.

“She uses her energy, cheerfulness and ‘can do attitude’ to foster a real sense of office spirit and camaraderie.”