Community Champion

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Araf Saddiq

Araf Saddiq, 52, of Glasgow

From helping Syrian refugees settle in Scotland to teaching first aid in mosques, Araf has dedicated his life to giving medical support to the Asian community.

The dad became the country’s first Asian paramedic in 1996 and ever since he has been helping break down the barriers between ethnic minorities and the health service.

When he is not out saving lives with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Araf can be found giving CPR and defibrillator workshops in mosques and Sikh and Hindu temples.

The dad-of-three has also made an impact on the refugee community developing a form they can fill in with medical details which allows paramedics to start immediate treatment, where before there could be delays due to language difficulties.

Araf, dad to Amaan, 17, Eleena, 14 and Inayah, five, has also been involved with the Scottish Communities Initiative and the Army in setting up an anti-radicalisation programme for young people.

Gail Gillon

Gail Gillon, 54, of Blantyre, Lanarkshire

The cafe boss has been serving up helpings of Christmas Day cheer to dozens of vulnerable and lonely locals for the past three years.

Gail, who runs the Jollytots & Cookies Play Cafe in Uddingston, has been throwing open her doors to those in need of company during the festive season.

As well as turkey with all the trimmings, her guests are treated to live music, haircuts, makeovers, a visit from Santa and a hamper full of gifts.

Inspired by her own difficult childhood and helped by an army of volunteers, the grandmother of two has become Mrs Claus to the vulnerable in her community.

A former mental health nurse Gail, who had an alcoholic father and five siblings, knows what it is like to face poverty at Christmas time.

Her first festive get together in 2015 was attended by 50 people after her appeal on social media was shared 6000 times and her numbers are growing by the year.

Alexis Fleming

Alexis Fleming, 37, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway

When her dog Maggie died suddenly from lung cancer without her by her side, Alexis was devastated.

But she was comforted by the fact that bull mastiff Maggie had passed away at the vets where she had been cared for until her dying breath.

Her pet’s death gave her the inspiration to start up Scotland’s first animal hospice - The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice, which opened in 2016.

Alexis initially set up the hospice in Moray, where she lived with her partner Adam. But they moved near to Kircudbright where they had enough land to build a purpose-built hospice.

The hospice doesn’t just provide end-of-life care for household pets. There’s also sheep, chickens and farm animals who come to have a final day of their favourite things before slipping away peacefully. They often die while sleeping and always with someone to love and hold them.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson, 49, Kemnay, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

The bighearted postie has raised more than £85,000 for local charities in the last 12 years.

The 49-year-old Royal Mail worker has dedicated his life to helping the people he meets on his rounds by raising money for the causes closest to their hearts.

Graham has organised a host of fundraising events including darts exhibitions, ceilidhs, bingo nights, Burns suppers, swimming galas and cycling challenges for dozens of charities.

Gordon Dementia Services, Breast Cancer Care and Aberdeen cancer support groups Clan and Friends of Anchor are just a few of the causes to benefit from the postman’s fundraising efforts.

Graham began his crusade back in 2006 with a darts night to raise funds for his convoy trip to Ukraine with the Communications Workers Union Humanitarian Aid Charity.

It was such a success, it became an annual event for a decade. Now Graham organises darts exhibitions across the region, recruiting the help of professionals like ex-Scotland captain Ross Montgomery. One evening raised more than £12,000 for people whose houses had been damaged by flooding during Storm Frank.