Cumbernauld's Bobby Johnstone to be honoured as a Diamond Champion

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 17:47 on 30 January 2014.
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Bobby Johnstone is a Diamond Champion. Picture is courtesy of Bill Henry.

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ONE of Cumbernauld’s best-loved local residents and community activists is being honoured at a special ceremony today, which will celebrate his hard work on projects across Cumbernauld.

Robert Johnstone, known better to Cumbernauld as Bobby Johnstone is being hailed for his years of hard work, and dedication to help make Cumbernauld a better place to live, work and visit.

The former Cumbernauld Development Corporation worker is being praised at a special ceremony, aimed at celebrating and marking the hard work of twelve shortlisted volunteers from across Britain.

The ‘Diamond Champions’ scheme is organised by older people's charity Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), and aims to mark the hard work put in by people over sixty, to voluntary enterprises within their local community.

At a ceremony hosted by TV personality and charity ambassador, Phillip Schofield, twelve volunteers from across the United Kingdom will have their efforts praised at a reception with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, in Lancaster House, London.

Launched in 2012 as an official Diamond Jubilee project, the ‘Diamond Champions’ project was repeated again last year, to commemorate the Royal Voluntary Service's 75th Anniversary. It project is sponsored by McCarthy & Stone and supported by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in her capacity as President of the charity.

Last year 4,573 nominations were received from 249 charities with 80 of the 480 Diamond Champions invited to attend a celebratory event at St James’s Palace Sixty. This year, however, sixty Diamond Champions were chosen from across Britain, with ten from each region. The shortlist was then whittled down to 12, with those twelve being chosen by an independent national judging panel, which included Patricia Routledge, Baroness Smith, Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow, McCarthy & Stone executive director Ali Crossley and Andrew Brady of Anglia Ruskin University.

Former Cumbernauld Development Corporation landscape manager Bobby Johnstone was one the twelve volunteers selected to meet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, after his years of work with the CDC, and chairing local community groups.

Presently, Mr Johnstone is chairman of the Cumbernauld Environmental Society, with Bobby leading the charge for a Cumbernauld Peace Garden, to commemorate World War One.

Phillip Schofield, Royal Voluntary Service ambassador, will be presenting the Diamond Champions awards at Lancaster House, today.

The TV personality said: "Older volunteers perform a really important, but too often unrecognised role in our communities, dedicating time and love to helping those who really need it. Diamond Champions is a great way of celebrating their work and making sure older volunteers get the recognition they deserve."

At today’s prestigious ceremony, Mr Johnstone and the other eleven Diamond Champions will be presented with a specially designed Diamond Champions pin and a certificate signed by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive said: "We are delighted to hold a reception to celebrate the contribution of older volunteers in Britain. They are truly deserving of the honour and it is justified recognition of the selfless work they do in their communities to help others.

"With an ageing population, the work Royal Voluntary Service does to support older people is going to become ever more important and we hope that we will be able to recruit more volunteers to help older people live independently in their own homes."

Ali Crossley, McCarthy & Stone’s Executive Director added: "At McCarthy & Stone we believe that later life should always be rich, rewarding and full of opportunity, and we know that volunteering can offer just that by providing a more active and gratifying lifestyle for people as they grow older.

“The average age of a Royal Voluntary Service volunteer is 64, which really highlights just how valuable the contribution made by those in later life is to society. It has been a real pleasure having the opportunity to hear about so many truly exceptional individuals throughout the judging process, and I am sure that our 12 deserving winners will serve as a real inspiration to many others across the UK who might also be looking for a positive and worthwhile way in which to enrich their later years."

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