ALL eyes were on the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa at the weekend as the annual Learning Disability Awards ceremony took place.

And celebration was in order for Natalie Macdonald, the Facilities Manager at NHS Borders, as she was Highly Commended in the Support in Work category.

Hosted by The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) the awards provide an opportunity to celebrate, on a national level, the rarely heard stories and achievements of people with learning disabilities and those who support them.

As part of Learning Disability week, the eight award categories were centred around this year’s theme ‘Community – Active, Connected, Included’.

Natalie was nominated by Daniel Murray, a domestic assistant in Ward 9, for her invaluable support to him both during his Project SEARCH internship back in 2016 and subsequent permanent appointment within the Borders General Hospital.

Friday evening brought local celebration as Natalie was recognised for leading the way towards a more inclusive workplace.

She said: “When Daniel told me that I had been nominated and shortlisted for this award I was very pleased and excited.

“It was lovely to be recognised and I felt proud to have been highly commended in the category.

“To be amongst so many well deserving individuals who received awards was very humbling.”

Nominees for the Support in Work Award are recognised as individuals who have worked to break down barriers for the employment of people with a learning disability.

Natalie added: “I met Daniel in 2016 when Project SEARCH first started.

“He was a very shy and quiet intern, but after working in a few different locations as part of the program over the last few years he’s really come out of himself.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to offer him a permanent full-time position following his internship.

“Now he’s so confident and chats away to patients on the wards and with his teammates.

Project SEARCH is a one-year transition program that provides training, education and work experience for individuals with learning disabilities.

Provided as a workforce alternative for students in their last year of high school or at college, young people with learning disabilities and autism, aged between 17-24 can apply for the selection process.

Speaking about his experience, Daniel said: “When I was a Project SEARCH intern I applied for an internal vacancy and did not get the job.

“However, Natalie had a meeting with me and gave me very good feedback on how to improve my interview skills.

“The next time I applied I was able to show the skills that I had learnt as an intern, and I got the job.

“Natalie has helped me with my confidence, mostly with my speaking so I was really excited when I found out that the nomination, I put in for her had been shortlisted.”

“She makes sure all my supervisors are aware of my needs, I feel like part of the team and get good support.

“I feel very proud that my confidence has grown as the best part of my job is interacting with patients.

“All this is because Natalie has given me the chance to work.”

The awards took place in Edinburgh on May 17.

For more information about the awards visit: