THE efforts of tenants’ and residents’ associations (TRA) across East Lothian shone bright after ‘sparkle awards’, the first of their kind, were handed out.

The awards ceremony by East Lothian Tenants and Residents Panel (ELTRP) took place virtually via Zoom, with colleagues from East Lothian Council also joining in.

At the event, guests heard about the achievements of the panel, the many residents’ groups across East Lothian and their work with East Lothian Council to help it be the best possible landlord and make sure tenants’ views were heard.

There were also awards for individuals who had gone the extra mile to support communities.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, council spokesperson for housing, presented the first four ‘contribution to the community’ awards to Beach Lane TRA (Musselburgh), Elphinstone Community Association, Haddington East TRA and Ormiston West TRA.

The winners were all judged to have had an outstanding impact on their local area and achieved great outcomes others could learn from.

An East Lothian Council spokesperson added: “The work of these local groups has added value to their local area and improved community spirit; strengthened relationships and communication; and championed community and tenant participation.”

James Coutts, council service manager for community housing and homelessness, presented the remaining three awards to Hallhill TRA, Harkness Crescent TRA and Golf Drive TRA.

A special spotlight award was presented by the council’s chief executive Monica Patterson to Deborah Piner, the council’s service development officer with community housing. Deborah was praised for her work with the panel and for her “exceptional commitment and passion for tenant participation”.

Douglas Proudfoot, the council’s head of service (development), presented the inaugural Jeanette Boyd Award.

Jeanette was a founding member of East Lothian Tenants and Residents Panel and also worked tirelessly in her own community of Windsor Park in Musselburgh.

She volunteered on the tenants’ panel with the Scottish Government and was on the board of Tenants Information Service.

She passed away last May and the award was created in her memory.

The award was presented to Pat MacRae, chair of Musselburgh’s Brunton Court TRA, who has gone to great efforts over the years to ensure residents of Brunton Court and other sheltered housing complexes across East Lothian get the best possible service.

The council’s tenant participation strategy was also launched at the event to ensure a two-way flow of information between tenants and the council.

It sets out what information the council will provide and what matters tenants will be consulted on over a three-year period up to 2023.

It was also announced that the council had retained its scrutiny-approved accreditation gold standard, awarded by the Tenants Information Service in partnership with Scotland’s housing network.

ELTRP chairman Jim Herron said: “On behalf of the panel, I want to thank everyone who attended our Sparkle Awards and made the night such a fantastic success. It was heart-warming to be part of the celebrations and to recognise all the good work being done by our local tenants’ and residents’ groups within our communities.

“The determination to try and make a difference to people’s lives, despite these very challenging and worrying times, is a real achievement in itself and only strengthens the bond and spirit that lives within our communities. These awards were a first but certainly won’t be the last!”

Mr Goodfellow added: “At the end of a very challenging year for all of us, it was a real pleasure to attend ELTRP’s Sparkle Awards.

“It showed that, despite the pandemic, the good work done by our tenants’ and residents’ groups, individuals and council staff over the years has not just continued but really strengthened.

“Community spirit has been so much in evidence this year and partnership working has never been so important in helping to support everyone in East Lothian, particularly our most vulnerable residents.

“Congratulations to all of the winners. Each award was well deserved.”