FIR the past 15 year an award haes bin gien tae fowk wha hae exheebited byordnar qualities that exemplifie a heids an heels selflessness wi regaird tae theirsels in order tae impruive the lives o ithers. This fir ordinar involves heizin up human rights an helpin tae mak some kind o social reform fir the guid o ithers.
Here in Scotland this award haes bin nemmed eftir oor national bard, the poet Robert Burns. The award sets oot tae honour thaim whaes endeavours an ongauns gie much needit howp an smeddum tae fowk wha are aftimes in dreidfu situations (refugees, war zones, famines, third warld hospitals, etc) an aiblins help tae chainge their lives fir the better.
Burns wis a veesionary human being, way aheid o his time. A prood, patriotic Scot, his original veesion helped tae lay the founds o the free democratic society we aa enjoy in Scotland the day. His principles are enshrined an setten oot in the priceless legacy o his sangs an poems that stound doun throu time, an are steept in his ain haurd won humanitarian values an indomitable speerit. Ane o his maist fawmous aims wis tae ‘wipe every tear from every eye’ an see a warld whaur humanity ettled as yin international faimily tae owercome global injustice, wars an cruelty. His message aye an oan rings oot yet in evri airt o this blue planet o oors.
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Raicent winners o the award kythe a sense o whit it taks tae be a recipient; Dr David Nott in 2016 is kent as ‘the Indiana Jones of surgery’ aftimes facin deidly risk an leeteraly starin doun the barrel o a gun as he cairriet oot life-sauvin operations in war torn middle eastern or African kintras. He hus nou setten up the David Nott Foundation tae help train up ither much needit doctors tae wark in conflict an disaster zones around the warld. Olivia Giles – the 2015 winner, selectit aheed o Sompop Jantraka, who rescues weans fae traffickin – is an Embra lawyer wha loast her limbs follaein a serious illness an wha went oan tae set up a charity the provides prosthetic limbs fir fowk in developin kintras so that they can aiblins ettle tae walk agane. Olivia’s charity, ‘500 Miles’ dis vital wark in Zanzibar an Zambia an she wis gien an OBE fir her efforts in 2010.
2014’s winner wis a local Ayrshire lass, Blanche Nicolson, whaes parents set up the Hansel Village organisation. Fir mair as 50 year she hus warkt tirelessly tae help fowk wi lairnin deeficulties tae leeve full an fulfilled lives, an hus focht tae address the social prejudices that sic fowk hae hud tae endure in the past. In 2014 ah wis masel a nominee fir the award fir ma ain campaignin wark fir reform in oor NHS.
The award likesay is international an thair hae bin some kenspeckle fowk frae ither kintra’s wha hae bin the recipients, like Adi Roche, frae Ireland, wha founded Chernobyl Children International (CCI) tae help Russian weans claucht up in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
And Marla Ruzicka, wha founded CIVIC, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Marla wis gien the award posthumously eftir deein in a car bomb in Baghdad at the age o anely 28. An American bi birth her charity haes raised mair as $166 million dollars tae help civilian victims hairmed in Afghanistan, Iraq an Pakistan.
Pius Ncube, 2005 winner, wis the umquhile RC Archbishop o Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, wha haes lang bin a bonnie fechter fir human rights in his kintra, speikin oot agin the regime o Robert Mugabe. A man whaes bin the subject o endless daith threits, when gien the award Pius Ncube dedicatit it til aa the ither Zimbabweans whaes sufferin gangs oan unabated in his kintra.
The judgin panel fir the award is made up o nine individuals wha aa hae a braid life experience. This year the panel hus seen the addeetion o the broadcaster Kirsty Wark an the actor John Murtagh. Existin memmers o the panel include Jane Brown, ex-preses RBWF, Dr David Hopes, Director o the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, an Habib Malik, Scotland manager o the Disasters Emergency Commattee athin Islamic Relief.
South Ayrshire Council an EventScotland support the RBHA an its winner is gien a unique award haundcraftit in Scotland, plus the modren equivalent o 1759 Guineas; this sum represents the year o Burns’s birth an the coinage uised in his day, it warks oot tae around £1,800 in the day’s siller.
Burns aye bides ane o Scotland’s greatest sons, his nem an warks enshrine aathing that maks Scots fowk unique in the warld. Gin ony readers wid like tae fin oot hou tae mak mair o their Burn’s Day (an Nicht!) or fin oot mair anent oor national Bard then hae a luik online here: www.scotland.org/burns.
Ony memmer o the public can mak their ain nomination fir the RBHA. Sae gin you ken o some selfless individual wha hus dedicatit their life tae help impruive the loat o their fellae human beings then this cuid be yer chaunce tae see some guid hairtit sowl receive an award that wull gie a heize tae thaim an their cause an help promote their chosen field o wark. This year’s nominations are aareadies aa in an we’ll ken shortly wha 2017’s warthy winner is. Mind, dae hae a swatch at http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/burnsaward/ an aiblins think oan anent whae you wid mibbes like tae see as neist year’s Robert Burns Humanitarian Award winner. Gin ye dae then thair nae dout ye’ll be daein yer ain bit tae wipe awa some o thae tears that beset oor warld.