A BORDERS man has been recognised for his dedication to developing and maintaining walking paths in Earlston, contributing to improving the health of many in his local community.

Ian Gibb, who co-founded the Earlston Paths Group was named winner of Community Path Volunteer of the Year at Paths for All’s Volunteer Awards 2021 at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by BBC Radio Scotland’s Fiona Stalker.

Since retiring from Royal Mail in 2001, he has been working to develop and then keep the path routes in Earlston in top form ensuring they are accessible for locals and visitors to enjoy.

He said: “I have always enjoyed walking and when I retired it was important that I kept myself busy. That’s why in 2005, I decided to form the group along with my co-founder Jack, who is sadly no longer with us, to develop existing and new walking routes in the area.

“There is plenty of banter when we go out to work on the paths and it gives us a chance to meet new people like contractors, the Paths for All team, local walkers and people visiting the area; it’s great to build new relationships with these people and hear their story.

“The group is made up of ten volunteers, each contributing in their own way. As well as that, when we have larger projects on the go we are fortunate that more people in the community come out and help.

“The community has really taken ownership of the paths too, if anything happens like broken steps, handrails, bridges or even a fallen tree, they know I’m the one to call.”

The charity supports local authorities and communities to develop inclusive environments for people to be active; whether walking, cycling or wheeling.

Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Office at Paths for All, said: “Individuals like Ian highlight the very reason why we host an annual awards ceremony. It is vital that we celebrate and shed light on the outstanding work that volunteers carry out in local communities across Scotland on a daily basis.

“Our volunteer’s invaluable contribution is directly working to improve the nation’s physical, mental and social health which has been evident throughout the pandemic, with many going above and beyond their normal duties.

“Hearing the inspirational stories during the award ceremony has highlighted that it is not just enough to say thank you – the work undertaken has provided a life line for many and for that we’re forever grateful.”

To find out more which Health Walks you can join in the Scottish Borders, visit: www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder