Barra volunteer presented with award by Prime Minister

A 17-year-old Barra girl with Down’s Syndrome who has dedicated over 800 hours to volunteering has become the winner of a new award, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

Grace MacArthur from Castlebay is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Grace started volunteering at the age of 15, spending time at the Cobhair Bharraigh respite and day care centre on a weekly basis playing cards with the residents and serving them tea and cakes. After building up her confidence and range of skills, Grace then took her volunteering on to the Children’s Centre cafe where she served tables every week and also began selling arts and crafts materials at a local gardening project.

Like others with Down’s Syndrome, Grace can experience tiredness, confusion and mood swings and she is also deaf in both ears. However, she selflessly puts all of this aside and cares for others at Cobhair Bharraigh.

Fiona MacDonald, care service manager at Cobhair Bharraigh, said: “Grace is a conscientious worker, keen to be helpful and gives her time willingly to make our community day care centre for the elderly a better place.”

Grace’s mum, Nellie MacArthur, added: “When Grace found out she had won the award she was wowed. We volunteer regularly and will soon be walking seven and a half miles for the nearby cancer unit, fundraising along the way.”

Having now committed over 800 hours to volunteering at the age of just 17, Grace is widely known as a true inspiration to other local volunteers.

Grace is pictured in June of this year receiving a Western Isles Volunteer Centre award from community learning and development worker Katie Denehy.