Ellon volunteer in running for charity award

Gail McKeitch is described as an inspirational figure in the Ellon branch of NAS.
Gail McKeitch is described as an inspirational figure in the Ellon branch of NAS.
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An Ellon volunteer is on the shortlist for a top national charity award.

Gail McKeitch, who has two sons with autism, has been recognised for her work in the town with the National Autistic Society Scotland (NAS).

She is a finalist in the charity champion category of the 2014 Scottish Charity Awards.

Gail, NAS volunteer branch officer in Ellon, has raised more than £15,000 for the local group since 2008 and has dedicated herself to reaching a high level of expertise in autism. She has a post graduate certificate and diploma in autism studies.

When many families told her that their children with autism found trampolining a particularly therapeutic and fun activity, Gail became a qualified instructor and set up sessions for families with disabled children in the local area.

She said: “I am humbled and honoured to be shortlisted for this fantastic award. I would like to thank the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland for their support.

“I hope this nomination helps shine a light on autism and the 58,000 people in Scotland with the condition, many of whom struggle every day to access the same opportunities most of us take for granted.

“It absolutely doesn’t have to be like this. If you have autism, the right support at the right time can make a huge, positive difference.”

NAS officials have described Gail as a “volunteer powerhouse” behind the Ellon group.

Siobhan Hogg, NAS branch support officer, said: “Gail’s energy, expertise and tireless fundraising means her home town is an invaluable hub of information and support, making a crucial daily, positive difference to more than one hundred local people affected by autism.

“Branch members regularly describe her as ‘inspirational’, ‘amazing’ and a ‘lifeline’. Gail most definitely does make a difference.”

The Scottish Charity Awards are organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and celebrate the vital work of charities, community groups and individuals.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms on June 5.