The Ayrshire Coastal Path has done it again! We have another Paths-for-All award. This time our fellow board member Gillian Craig is the Paths-for-All Community Path Volunteer of the Year 2019. She was presented with her award last night at the Scottish Parliament. Massive congratulations to Gillian. Her award is well-deserved………and another feather in the cap for the Ayrshire Coastal Path.
Gillian joined the growing band of ACP community volunteer “pathminders” three years ago and quickly became an established group member, braving the elements to carry out essential maintenance work, vegetation control and essential signing. Her many talents and boundless energy was evident to the ACP management board and Gillian was invited to join the board in 2017 to which she happily agreed, thus becoming its youngest member. Since then she has helped to promote and develop many new initiatives to improve the effectiveness of path management, administration, organisation and funding opportunities. In particular, her people and social-networking skills have greatly enhanced ACP communications, thus considerably expanding awareness of the accessibility and health benefits of the ACP. She has led a number of community walks on different sections of the ACP and still organises litter-picking days and signing improvements. All of this she does in addition to her many other active travel (and domestic) activities causing people to wonder how she crams so much into her day.
Gillian has led numerous other community walks e.g. at walking festivals such as Valley Walkfest and Clyde Muirshiel as well as helping to promote them via her social-media following on her “gillianswalks” website (consulted by hundreds of individuals and rambling groups). She has formed a strong working relationship with the Community Engagement Officer at Scottish Wildlife Trust Ayrshire over the past few years (a relationship which started when she did some volunteering with SWT) and this has resulted in them teaming up to lead a number of popular walks together at SWT nature reserves as well as other places of interest around Ayrshire.
Although pressure of work elsewhere necessitated her resignation from the group, Gillian was a founder member of the active-travel lobbying group, South Ayrshire Paths Initiative (SAPI) who are now assisting South Ayrshire Council with the development of new all-ability paths in this region. She was also responsible for creating a Facebook group ‘plogging Scotland’ last year which now has 1000 members. The purpose of it is to give keen ploggers a vehicle for talking about their litter-picking experiences, sharing photos of before/after and inspiring others to do the same in their local area. Litter has always been a big topic of conversation during walks Gillian leads so she decided to do something about it to indirectly help keep our paths tidy. As a result, last year she was invited to work with SAC to put together a plogging video to promote litter picks along their beaches, alongside most of which the ACP is routed. Gillian is also chairperson for the Kilmaurs community Walking Festival. Kilmaurs is a small Ayrshire village which needed help in ensuring the future of their annual walking festival. This year, with Gillian’s help, they are expanding the programme into neighbouring villages to promote the walking opportunities around the area.
Well done again Gillian.