THE efforts of volunteers who stepped up to help people throughout Dunbar during the first coronavirus lockdown have been recognised.

More than 200 volunteers came forward to help vulnerable members of the community last March when lockdown restrictions were first put in place.

Now, Dunbar Community Council has shown that those efforts did not go unrecognised with a special award.

Stephen Bunyan, former chairman of the group, highlighted the hard work of the volunteers in presenting the Stephen Bunyan Award.

He said: “This year, the Stephen Bunyan Trophy goes to the whole Dunbar and district community in recognition of their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When the scale of the problem first emerged in March, the Dunbar Community Council resilience plan was activated and the call went out on social media and the web asking for volunteers to step forward to undertake good neighbour tasks in our community.

“These tasks included shopping, collecting prescriptions, undertaking dog walking, garden tidying or simply acting as a phone buddy for people in isolation.

“Dunbar and West Barns was divided into nine geographic clusters, each with a single point of contact (SPoC) and deputy responsible for coordinating all tasks and allocating volunteers.

“A series of protocols were drafted as guidance for volunteers and all were issued with hi-vis vests and volunteer badges.

“The response of the Dunbar community was generous, whole-hearted and, in the end, overwhelming, as we had 250 volunteers step forward within 10 days of the first request.

“The Covid-19 volunteers remained on duty from March 20 to July 31 when they were stood down to stand-by status.”

However, it was not just those that signed up as volunteers that received praise.

Mr Bunyan took time to highlight businesses and community groups which had gone above and beyond to help people.

He said: “This generous response was evident throughout the Dunbar community and in particular our NHS workers have been outstanding in their dedication to keeping the community safe.

“Essential workers at Torness have kept the lights on, the Post Office and delivery services have ensured that online orders are delivered, Dunbar Foodbank, meals service, the local churches, The Ridge, the pharmacy, the mask and PPE makers have all played their part, as have all good Samaritans who have stepped in to help their neighbours during these difficult times.

“Therefore, the Stephen Bunyan Trophy, traditionally awarded for team efforts, is this year awarded to the whole Dunbar community.”

Traditionally, the community council holds an annual awards ceremony during the town’s civic week celebrations in June.

However, Civic Week, which was due to celebrate its 50th year, was cancelled due to the global pandemic.

Instead, a virtual awards ceremony was held shortly before Christmas, where community councillors were joined by more than half a dozen award winners.

Two other awards – the Community Council Award and the Bowe Cup – were also presented on the night.

The Community Council Award, which recognises the efforts of an adult in the town, was given to Robin Hamilton.

Alasdair Swan, treasurer of the group, highlighted the efforts of Mr Hamilton, both in the town and further afield.

Mr Hamilton joined Dunbar Harbour Trust in 2009 and will step down this year after serving the maximum 12 years.

Mr Swan said: “As a Dunbar Harbour Trust director, Robin has served the community diligently, putting in endless hours of his professional civil engineer expertise to inspect the sea defences of Dunbar Harbour, both from the inside and the outside.

“Over the years, he has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to protect our community, personally supervising the repairs needed to keep the North Sea on the correct side of our sea walls.

“He has looked after our harbour bridge, taking the care needed to keep the bridge operational, which is critical if we are to provide visitors to Dunbar with access to Dunbar Battery and the far side of our harbour.”

Away from the harbour, Mr Hamilton is a former president of Dunbar Rotary Club and has raised money for a number of good causes in the town.

At the same time, he is an elder at Belhaven Parish Church and has established links in India.

Mr Swan said: “For these fantastic, many and varied contributions, for the wellbeing and the reputation of the town of Dunbar, I have great pleasure in nominating Robin Hamilton for the 2020 Dunbar Community Council Award.”

Citizen awards were also given to a number of people in the town for a wide variety of impressive roles.

Denise McCandlish has been heavily involved with girlguiding in East Lothian for more than 20 years, including more than 10 years as district commissioner of Dunbar and Innerwick.

Siobhan Grealy and Jacqui Preston were both awarded citizen awards for their work with Dunbar Music School, while Kevin Keillor and David Koch were presented with the awards for their long-service to Dunbar’s RNLI.

Meanwhile, Kate Darrah’s commitment to The Ridge and Mike Kaszuba’s connection with Dunbar Sea Cadets were also recognised, as were the efforts of Robert Fairbairn in helping keep the town clean.

Finally, The Bowe Cup went to Dunbar Grammar School pupil and rugby enthusiast Ethan Wilson.

According to a citation for the youngster: “Ethan has also helped out at after school rugby assisting the Dunbar RFC development officer. He also coaches at all Dunbar RFC rugby camps throughout the year.

“He recently won an Active East Lothian spotlight award for his volunteer work.

“Ethan has also coached sport at Innerwick Primary, along with other youngsters from Dunbar Grammar.

“For someone so young, Ethan delivers a high standard of coaching and the kids thrive in a happy environment and is always complimented by the parents.”