Boyndie Trust and Banffshire Partnership CEO Duncan Leece presented with BEM for outstanding service to community through pandemic
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BOYNDIE man Duncan Leece has been presented with his British Empire Medal (BEM) for outstanding service to the local community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Leece (60), CEO of the Boyndie Trust and Banffshire Partnership, first learned of the recognition in October last year when the Queen's Birthday Honours List for 2020 was announced. This had been delayed to include individuals who had stepped up to help communities during the pandemic.
But colleagues and community members finally gathered on Tuesday, September 28, at The Old School in Boyndie, to see Mr Leece receive his honour from the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson.
Mr Leece helped set up the Boyndie Trust in 1999. He became CEO of the Banffshire Partnership, also founded in 1999, in 2006. Both organisations are based at The Old School and work in tandem. The Old School has since become a popular visitor centre for locals and visitors.
The Boyndie Trust works to improve the employment prospects and wellbeing of people with learning difficulties, while the Banffshire Partnership is focused on those who are isolated, running dial-a-bus shopping services and community bus hire.
During the pandemic, Mr Leece's team provided additional services to locals who were sheltering or facing additional challenges, making a significant difference to those who were isolating and many others.
Mr Leece and his team adapted their services in various ways to look after people – making sure they had shopping, medication and someone to talk to.
They focused in particular on supporting vulnerable locals, whether through age, medical condition or learning condition.
Mr Simpson said Mr Leece had led by example and paid tribute to all those connected with the trust and partnership for their work, dedication and commitment.
Through the pandemic the Boyndie base and vehicles were used to operate a shopping and home delivery service, including prescriptions, supporting 150 people each week, most of whom were shielding or rurally isolated.
The team supported 50 vulnerable people with special needs at home, making regular phone contact to check on their welfare.
They acted as "eyes and ears" for social work and NHS staff, helping make referrals to other agencies or provide additional contact or home visits.
The team also took referrals from the NHS and Grampian Coronavirus Assistance Centre helpline to provide support to others who were going into shielding, as well as helping to run the local Covid-19 emergency helpline.
In his presentation speech, the Lord Lieutenant told Mr Leece: "In late spring 2020, as lockdown was at its tightest, the government indicated that they wanted to recognise contributions of individuals to the pandemic.
"I had been asking around and, Duncan, your name was mentioned consistently by several people.
"To make something happen requires leadership. Skills that support, inspire and give people the opportunities to serve. You led by example with your hard work.
"There is much more I could say, not least about how as CEO, using both your skills and vision, you have built up the work of the trust and the partnership all these years.
"It is a privilege, as the Queen's representative of the county of Banffshire, to present you with the BEM in recognition of your outstanding service to our local community."
Mr Leece said afterwards: "The award is a great honour and was a complete surprise back in 2020.
"It was really nice to see the medal 'in person'.
"It was terrific to finally get the medal – but the best thing about the day was that finally, in safety, we could all get together and talk about what we've achieved as an organisation."