THE 56-year-old recipient of this year’s Tweeddale Citizen of the Year hopes his accolade will inspire others to get involved with their community.

Joe Fernand was part of the group of volunteers who were instrumental in saving Newlands Primary School from closure in 2004.

Mr Ferdinand is originally from Glasgow.

But the turn of the century brought him to Romanno Bridge where he threw himself into offering his skills to the betterment of his community.

Joe runs The Media Factory - an audio visual and home cinema consultancy, design and installation company.

But with the exhaustive list of volunteering with the numerous groups and organisations he’s involved with, it’s hard to imagine where he finds the time to fit in a day job.

Taking us back to where his passion for volunteering began, Joe said: “Like many other lifelong friends I enjoyed a huge amount of mentoring and guidance from the team of volunteers who organised and managed the Silver Shadows Drum Corps in my home town of Bearsden, Glasgow.

"The Corps leader, George Ferguson, was a big inspiration to us all.”

Joe started volunteering as a junior leader with Scouts during his teen years in Glasgow, then Docking in Norfolk and later as Group Chair/Leader with the Castle Craig Scout Group here in the Borders.

And after ‘doing his best’ with the Scouts, Joe had his sights on a new goal.

The former Newlands Primary School football coach, David Fairholm, got Joe started with football coaching around 2005.

Joe explained: “Having achieved the relevant SFA badges, I now run the weekly coaching sessions at Newlands Primary School, and some goalkeeping coaching with the West Linton Hotspur Colts.”

His volunteering hat-trick arrived when he joined the board of Newlands Community Development Trust (NCDT) who own and operate Newlands Activity Centre near Romanno Bridge.

As well as saving Newlands Primary School from closing its doors, Joe was involved in developing a thriving community around the Newlands Campus near Romanno Bridge.

He added: “The community campus we have created is one which other trusts and groups are looking to model themselves upon.

“Through Development Trust Scotland (DTAS) I work part of my week on community and new business development on behalf of NCDT and our wider community.”

Newlands Activity Centre hosts around 50 weekly clubs, classes and activities for all ages plus a wide range of annual and seasonal community events such as Christmas Lights On, Hogmanay Ceilidh, Tweeddale Railway and Model Rail Exhibition.

“I work on the marketing, website, posters and along with my fellow volunteers at Newlands Stage Craft Crew, on the technical side of putting on the events,” added Joe.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Joe helped to form the Newlands Youth Group in 2012, of which he is the lead youth worker and chairman.

This has led to voluntary work on a wider basis with Youth Borders and Youth Scotland.

He explained: “I recently took on Chair of Newlands kids, pre-school and out of school club, and am working with the committee, all volunteers, plus full time staff to develop and expand the service we offer here at Newlands.”

As representative for the NCDT Board at monthly Tweeddale Learning Community Partnership and Tweeddale Area Partnership, Joe says he hopes to bring some local insight to these groups.

Joe describes his nomination for the Tweeddale Citizen of the Year Award as a "great surprise”.

He added: “ Having won the award I hope I can continue to inspire others to get involved with their community. Volunteering comes in many forms no matter your skill set or ability to commit time. I find there are always folk who will be most appreciative of any time, assistance or guidance you can provide.”

For anyone wanting to offer their skills, Joe recommends Volunteer Centre Borders which he says is a great place to start your volunteering journey.

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. And this is certainly true of a man like Joe who has made a life by what he gives to his community.

And despite his crowning glory he remains humble, giving credit and thanks to the many folk he volunteers alongside.