A SCOTTISH Borders Project Manager has been recognised for her commitment in transforming the region’s accessible walking routes.

Scotland’s national walking charity, Paths for All has recognised Denise Carmichael as the Health Walk Volunteer Manager/Project Coordinator of the Year at the 2023 Volunteer Awards.

Denise joined the organisation, Walk It, in 2009. The group aims to reduce health inequalities and build networks to tackle long term health conditions.

Walk It worked across geographic areas of greatest inequality until 2010, then evolving into a Borders wide service to promote physical activity and wellness.

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Denise, who works for the Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders, has worked tirelessly to recruit, train and develop a team of around 100 dedicated, active Walk Leaders that share her passion and commitment to health improvement. The group now facilitates 42 weekly health walks across the Borders.

Denise of Walk it, said: “I have been in post for 14 years now and when I began the position, we had three Health Walks that were active and two that were inactive. I spent the first five years in growing the project extensively in the Scottish Borders and building up my network of partners as well as recruiting and training Walk Leaders.

“I have always been a very keen walker and was interested in the position for Walk It when I saw it. I became heavily involved in Health and Fitness in 2007 and this seemed like a good fit with the benefits of walking, socially, mentally and physically and that was it – straight away I was engaged with Paths for All.

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“The success I have experienced would not have been possible without the volunteers, they have certainly made this role very enjoyable and I hope that more and more people will pick up an interest in walking and joining one of our many groups in the future.”

The award winner regularly hosts training to encourage people to pick up active Walk Leader training, strength and balance training and dementia friendly training. Denise also helped develop courses on basic map reading and navigation, as well as first aid, outdoor leadership and all accessibility training for all participating Walk Leaders.

Denise Carmichael was commended at Paths for All’s 14th annual awards ceremony at the Scottish Parliament on 27 September.

Hosted by the BBC Scotland's Fiona Stalker, with awards presented by sponsoring MSP Nicola Sturgeon, the event recognised 10 groups and individuals throughout Scotland who have gone the extra mile to keep their communities active.

Border Telegraph: Paths for All

Maree Todd, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport “Supporting people in Scotland to walk and wheel is a key part of our vision of a country where more people are more active, more often.

“A huge number of highly motivated and skilled people are helping us deliver this vision, especially the passionate volunteers who do so much to help others overcome challenges to participation and facilitate activities across the country.

“They really are inspirational, the recognition from Paths for All in these Awards is very well deserved.”

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Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Paths for All, said: “Every year I am blown away at the number of incredible groups and volunteers out there determined to make a difference. The work carried out by volunteers is directly improving the nation’s physical, mental and social health, reducing social isolation and loneliness and helping people make more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.

“It’s been fantastic hosting the awards at the Scottish Parliament again this year, I always enjoy getting to socialise with our amazing volunteers and hear first-hand about the invaluable contributions they have been making.

“Thank you to everyone for their efforts and ongoing dedication.”

Border Telegraph: Paths for All

Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative to improve the mental, social and physical health of the country.

The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in – making for a happier, healthier, greener Scotland.

To find out more about Walk It, please visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/walk-project/walk-it

A full list of Volunteer Award winners 2023 can be found on Paths for All’s website: http://www.pathsforall.org.uk/volunteerawards