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Award honour for Cullen Volunteer Group


By Alan Beresford

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THERE was a proud moment to savour for Cullen Volunteer Group (CVG) when they were presented with their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

(From left) CVG members Stan Slater, Bruce Porter, Barry Addison, Willie Jappy, Alex Donn and Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
(From left) CVG members Stan Slater, Bruce Porter, Barry Addison, Willie Jappy, Alex Donn and Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The group were unveiled as a recipient of the award – the highest a voluntary body can receive – in June and Monday evening was time for them to be formally presented with a crystal trophy and certificate in the grand ballroom of the Seafield Arms Hotel.

On hand to do the honours was the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson.

Formed in 2016, CVG were honoured for their outstanding service to the community.

Their most high profile project to date has been restoring Castlehill from an overgrown area to a landmark that overlooks the town and incorporates a network of footpaths and information panels, as well as the provision of a viewpoint setting with benches

A long list of achievements includes: Creating and developing footpaths, maintaining amenity spaces, including those that previously had been looked after by the local authority; Providing seating in recreational areas; Providing information boards to help educate residents and visitors about local history and heritage; Working with local groups such as the local school, care homes and heritage society on joint projects; Supporting groups such as Rotary by providing personnel for marshalling charity walks, planting crocuses for Purple4Polio and so on.

The group have successfully maintained and developed public assets and spaces in Cullen for the benefit of the community and the many visitors to the area.

CVG Stan Slater says a few words of thanks after the award is presented. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
CVG Stan Slater says a few words of thanks after the award is presented. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

CVG chairman Stan Slater said: "It's a very proud moment for us and it's always nice to be recognised like this.

"We didn't start up to win awards, we want to do things for the community and a lot of the lads enjoy being out in the open air and doing something, it's good for their mental health.

"The group will now be looking to refurbishing the benches and seats we look after over the winter period, repainting them and so on.

"A new project we're starting is being part of a scheme to create a coastal path from Cullen to Peterhead and perhaps beyond. Aberdeenshire have just appointment a new project manager for it, Alison Simpson and we're hoping the path from the salmon bothy to Findlater will be the first to be done.

"The challenge now is to get the funding and also work out how we're going to get the necessary machinery and material to some remote and inaccessible locations."

In handing over the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, Mr Simpson said that CVG, like all winners of the honour, were "exceptional".

Andrew Simpson praises the work of the volunteer before handing over the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Andrew Simpson praises the work of the volunteer before handing over the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"The list [of achievements] is on its own impressive and exceptional," he continued.

"I suspect that there is much else that could have been added.

"However, if this is what we the public see, there is another level at which the Cullen Volunteer Group is exceptional. Rightly so, health and wellbeing are central to many discussions about contemporary life. The Cullen Volunteer Group have this high on the agenda for their members.

"But not just for themselves. Late one day during the pandemic I was on Castlehill. I fell into conversation with with someone who was out walking his dog. He explained that his regular daily routine was to walk the paths in the area. He said that this had kept him going during the lockdown.

"He worried how he would have got through those days without somewhere to go such as Castlehill where he could, and to use his own words, 'clear his mind'. I guess conversation could be repeated countless times.

"Another aspect of the exceptional nature of the group is their vision for the future. As important are grass cutting and path repairs are – not least to keep the village attractive to tourists and locals – the group do not see their role as limited to maintenance. Throughout their existence they have sought to develop and improve facilities in the area. Castle hill has already been mentioned, and what an ambitious project that was.

"Developing the network of paths was also ambitious. Even today, they have plans that will contribute much to the area.

"Although the group will readily pay tribute to the amazing support they receive from the community – the attendance at coffee mornings, the buying of calendars – and that is right and proper, the focus must be on the members of Cullen Volunteer Group themselves for inspiring such support."


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