Co-founder of Earlston Paths Group wins our Community Path Volunteer of the Year award

Ian Gibb, who co-founded the Earlston Paths Group, has been recognised for developing and maintaining walking paths in Earlston that became a lifeline to many during lockdown.

Ian Gibb, Earlston Paths Group

Since retiring from Royal Mail in 2001, Ian has been working to develop and keep the path routes in Earlston in the Scottish Borders in top form ensuring they are accessible for locals and visitors to enjoy. 

He said:

I have always enjoyed walking and when I retired it was important that I kept myself busy. That’s why in 2005, I decided to form the group along with my co-founder Jack, who is sadly no longer with us, to develop existing and new walking routes in the area. 

There is plenty of banter when we go out to work on the paths and it gives us a chance to meet new people like contractors, the Paths for All team, local walkers and people visiting the area; it’s great to build new relationships with these people and hear their story.  

The group is made up of ten volunteers, each contributing in their own way. As well as that, when we have larger projects on the go we are fortunate that more people in the community come out and help.

The Earlston Paths Group volunteers give up their own time to develop and maintain a sustainable and accessible local path network in the area.

Ian continued:

During the Covid restrictions, there was a big increase in numbers using our network because walking was one of the few activities people could do to sustain their health and wellbeing.

A lot of the footpaths we maintain became a lifeline. There is a path that goes by my home and it was like a race track from seven in the morning to the night time.

You were able to meet other walkers and chat, while still obeying social distancing rules.

The community has really taken ownership of the paths too, if anything happens like broken steps, handrails, bridges or even a fallen tree, they know I’m the one to call.

Watch Ian's video below.

The group has not met in person for the past 18 months due to the pandemic. However, Ian watched the ceremony with the others in the group to celebrate their 16-year anniversary.

Find out more about Earlston Paths Group on their website

Ian was among 11 winners at Paths for All's 12th annual Volunteers Awards. You can find out about the rest of the winners here.