Two Fifers who help boost others’ health through walking are among Scotland’s first ever walking champions.
Charity worker Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas, who runs a walking group to help migrants boost their health, social life and spoken English has been named the first ever overall champion of the Scottish Walking Awards.
Judges were impressed by Magdalena’s Sole Sisters community health project through her work with Fife Migrants Forum.
She scooped the Community Walking Champion and Overall Champion titles, from among more than 160 entries in 10 categories.
Another Fifer, Ross Cunningham, was also recognised for his work to improve mental health through hillwalking.
The Glenrothes man’s Mountains Mend Minds social media platform has found great success, particularly in supporting men who can be reluctant to discuss their issues.
Ross was named the Media/Online Walking Champion.
Both he and Magdalena are delighted with their awards.
‘Walking champions not only about walking’
Magdalena said: “The project has been really important for reducing barriers to walking for migrant women, increasing cultural understanding and reducing isolation and increasing physical and mental wellbeing.
“While it has been challenging to keep the work going during the pandemic, we are so pleased with what the project has been able to achieve.
“Sole sisters is not only about walking, but also about building strong, lasting relationships within the community.”
The Sole Sisters project brings together women from the migrant and local community through walks in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.
Walk & Talk join us for more details about our current programme of walks please just drop an email email@example.com
They also run regular conversation cafes to help people meet others while building confidence in speaking English.
Magdalena has organised online workshops and group activities wherever restrictions allowed.
She also supported the Scottish Health Walk Network to translate Paths for All’s health walk advice into nine new languages.
Lee Craigie, chairman of the judging panel, said: “We were incredibly impressed by Magdalena’s focus on ensuring the benefits of walking reach a truly diverse audience, and keeping it going during the pandemic.”
‘Walking made me feel happier during a dark time’
Meanwhile, Ross Cunningham hit the headlines last year when he launched a bid to climb three Munros from the comfort of his Glenrothes home.
His gruelling week-long challenge in aid of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) saw him climb more than 10,000 feet using his staircase.
Ross used walking to help overcome depression.
And he now encourages others to get active as a way of improving their mental health.
“Hillwalking gave me a focus at a time when I was really struggling with my mental health and it really helped me,” he said.
It’s slightly unbelievable to win a national award like this.”
“Walking made me feel happier during a dark time.
“Now, through my Mountains Mend Minds project and online videos, I’m hopefully inspiring others to hike the hills as well.
“It’s slightly unbelievable to win a national award like this and it makes me even more motivated to continue doing what I’m doing.”
Glenrothes SNP MP Peter Grant praised Ross’s efforts.
“I’m delighted Ross has been recognised for the great work he’s been doing to highlight the benefits that walking gives to our physical and mental wellbeing,” he said.
“As well as demonstrating his love for Scotland’s wildest places he’s reminded us during lockdown of the fantastic walks we’re lucky to have on our doorsteps here in Fife.”