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Skye volunteer rewarded for work on accessible paths

Sarah Lister (centre) with Melanie Moss (right) from Skye for All and Jo-Ann Ford from Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations
Sarah Lister (centre) with Melanie Moss (right) from Skye for All and Jo-Ann Ford from Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations

A Skye woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumour ten years ago has won a major award for mapping accessible paths for others who struggle with mobility.

Sarah Lister set up Skye for All with her friend Melanie Moss to identify routes in Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh to help people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

The routes highlight access points such as dropped kerbs, seating and wider paths, as well as disabled toilets, cafes and places of interest.

Ms Lister has now been named Active Travel Volunteer of the Year at the 2020 Paths for All Volunteer Awards.

She has undergone multiple operations and suffered a stroke since being diagnosed with a brain tumour and is unable to walk unaided for long distances.

But this encouraged her to show how people with long-term health conditions and mobility issues can participate in active travel.

She added: “You don’t notice how inaccessible many areas are unless you are disabled yourself or have a family member who is. So, looking back to places I’d been to before, I couldn’t remember if they were accessible or not.

“During lockdown, Melanie and I mapped out some of the nearby area whilst adhering to all guidelines about staying close to home, and we routed more accessible paths. As restrictions eased, we were able to map out some areas further afield, making some great memories exploring different places around Skye – albeit social distance walking was a bit different to normal!

“It’s been great to get outside and explore places that I didn’t really know about before. Making these beautiful routes in Skye that bit more accessible is just the cherry on top.”

Ian Findlay, chief officer at Paths for All, said: “Getting outside and going for a walk has been even more important than normal over the last few months for our physical and mental wellbeing.

“Volunteers, like Sarah have carried out tremendous work and adapted their work during the Covid-19 pandemic to reflect the changing needs of the Scottish public and for that we have to say a massive thank you.

“Their stories are always inspiring – and this year seems that little more exceptional.”

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