Gary helps to put more feet on the ground and bums on bikes

Kilmarnock Active Travel Hub volunteer, Gary Yemm is passionate about promoting and encouraging active travel. He was nominated in our 2019 Volunteer Awards for being a true role model.

Active Travel Hub Kilmarnock volunteer Gary Yemm

Gary will often be seen commuting around town on his bike to work, to the supermarket, and to visit family. If asked, Gary will be sure to make clear that he does not consider himself a cyclist; he simply uses his bike as a mode of transport. Plain clothed, backpack on, someone that the community can relate to. 

Gary has been a volunteer with the Active Travel Hub since January 2018. He has trained as a Health Walk Leader, Cycle Ride Leader, First Aider and Velotech Mechanic and has helped with a vast number of activities over the past 18 months.

Between April and July 2019, he has clocked up 43 volunteer hours leading walks and bike rides and has committed to leading two evening bike rides every week throughout the summer, including two sets of 8-week cycle skills programmes. All this despite working full time at a local school.

He said:

I enjoy volunteering with the Active Travel Hub because I am passionate about active travel and promoting walking and cycling as an everyday way to undertake an everyday journey.

Gary’s belief that more feet on the ground and bums on bikes is a good thing is supported by the proactive and selfless way he puts forward his ideas to drive change in people’s travel behaviour.

He is always fully integrated into activity planning sessions with Hub staff, suggesting appropriate routes, assisting with risk assessments and suggesting changes to improve the programme.

Last summer for example, Gary, with his passion for walking and local history, became the driving force in delivering a series of History walks for the Hub. This summer he led a transformational change in the focus of the group rides: now, rather than being primarily a social ride, Gary has built a series of skills sessions into them and this is empowering participants to feel more confident riding amongst traffic. 

Those who have had the pleasure of taking part in activities led by Gary agree: 

Volunteering alongside Gary is a pleasure. When walk leading, Gary shares his wealth of knowledge on local history and nature which brings an interesting and engaging twist to group walks. Gary is friendly, committed, reliable and passionate and welcomes everyone to his led activities with a big smile on his face.

Walk Leader, Eve Smille

Gary is a fantastic bike ride leader. Not only is he knowledgeable about bikes and cycling, he is extremely friendly, welcoming to all and patient when helping with questions or physical bike maintenance.

Frankie Ellis, ride participant

I attend a group cycle every week where Gary volunteers as a leader.  Without his assistance giving up his own time each week these group cycles would not be able to go ahead.  He is so encouraging at getting everyone involved in cycling and his relaxed attitude makes it such a pleasurable experience.  He has certainly encouraged me to take up cycling and given me so much more confidence.

Morag Semple, ride participant 

The Active Travel Hub, Kilmarnock was set up in January 2017. It is a partnership project between East Ayrshire Council and Sustrans Scotland, funded by Paths for All Smarter Choices Smarter Places. It is a facility within the community that provides a range of services to increase active travel and encourage a shift to sustainable forms of transport. 

The Hub provides a range of activities and events to reduce barriers to walking and cycling, give people the skills and equipment they need to travel actively and encourage positive changes in travel behaviour.  With a staff of 2.2 full time equivalent project officers, the project relies heavily on volunteer support to deliver their activities and events and is fortunate to have an amazing group of people who are actively and regularly giving their time to the project, contributing 720 hours last year. 

The Hub is a member of the Scottish Health Walk Network offering three weekly Health Walks. Find out more on our website.  A new winter evening walk started in October using lit streets and pavements to show it is possible to keep active during the dark nights.