A “SELFLESS” woman from Walkerburn has been awarded the Tweeddale Citizen of the Year award for 2020.

Denise Hanks was put forward for the prize by the Walkerburn and District Community Council, as well as receiving “widespread support from local residents”.

During the pandemic, Ms Hanks has played a crucial role in organising the Food HUGS (Healthy Uncomplicated Great Scran) initiative. Using food donated by the Co-op, volunteers have helped to provide home-cooked meals to people in the community who have been affected by coronavirus.

A Scottish Borders Council selection committee chose Ms Hanks after she “impressed with her significant contribution over a number of years to community life”.

Upon receiving the award, Ms Hanks said: “I am extremely honoured to have been selected but would like to stress that it really has and continues to be a team effort. We are such a strong and supportive community here in Walkerburn and initiatives like Food HUGS just wouldn’t have been possible without the collective effort of all the volunteers, who have given their time willingly.

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“My small part in this particular venture was to bring all the necessary parties together and it was by that joint working that we were able to create something really special in these difficult times.

“I truly believe that the volunteers and organisations have been such an important part of Food HUGS and deserve all the recognition. Together we can be very proud of what is being achieved in and for our community.”

According to SBC, the award recognises the citizen, or group of citizens, who “has or have done the most for the honour and welfare of the area or any part of it during the past year”.

Alongside her work with Food HUGS, Ms Hanks is also involved with a range of groups in Walkerburn including the Development Trust, Burning Issues Newsgroup, Flower and Vegetable Society, Crafts 4U and the Public Hall.

SBC’s convener, David Parker, said: “Denise is a very worthy winner of Tweeddale Citizen of the Year 2020 for her considerable efforts to improve the lives of those in her local community.

"Her dedication is admirable and has been particularly evident throughout the challenges of the past year. She has been tireless in supporting those who have been shielding, in isolation or experiencing any other difficulty and in making sure fellow residents have access to the help and support they need.

"She truly is a prime example of how a committed and selfless individual can make a substantial positive impact within a community, and she should be justifiably proud of this well-deserved award.”