Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas, left, seen during a Sole Sisters event

Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas, left, seen during a Sole Sisters event

A woman who organises a walking group for migrants in Fife has won the top accolade in the Scottish Walking Awards.

Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas is co-ordinator of the Sole Sisters community health project, run by Fife Migrants Forum.

She was judged first-ever overall champion in the awards, as well as community walking champion.

The Scottish Walking Awards are organised by Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland, and Living Streets, in conjunction with the National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum. The winners were announced as part of National Walking Month.

The Sole Sisters project brings together women from the migrant and local community through walks in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, providing regular health walks and conversation cafes, enabling participants to make social connections and build confidence speaking English.

Judges said, during the pandemic, Ms Augustyn-Lygas has worked tirelessly to keep the project going, organising online workshops and group activities wherever restrictions allowed. Recently, she has supported the Scottish Health Walk Network to translate Paths for All’s health walk advice into nine new languages to reach more people across Scotland.

She said: “I am delighted to win this award, for the work we have done through the Sole Sisters walking group. 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 judging panel included Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland; Bridget Jones, strategic paths manager with NatureScot; Jenny Muir, behaviour change manager at Sustrans; Lee Craigie, active nation commissioner for Scotland, and Jane Gallacher, sport and physical activity manager with Active Scotland.

Other category winners were:

  • Public sector walking champion: #DGMilesforSmiles in Dumfries and Galloway
  • Business walking champion: Milngavie Business Improvement District in East Dunbartonshire
  • Walking research and innovation: Out There Award across Scotland, Ramblers Scotland’s free award for 18- to 26-year-olds
  • Most improved walking place: Auchmountain Glen Project in Inverclyde
  • Land manager walking champion: Alcan Aluminium (UK) Ltd in Fife
  • Walking champion in education: Cara McBrearty, active schools co-ordinator in North Lanarkshire
  • Healthcare professional walking champion: Dr Katie Walter in the Highlands, who campaigns and advocates for improved walking across the Highlands and beyond
  • Social housing association walking champion: Cassiltoun Housing Association in Glasgow Media and online walking champion: Ross Cunningham in Fife, who runs the Mountains Mend Minds social media platform.

Craig McLaren, chair of the National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum, said: “The range of projects nominated for the first Scottish Walking Awards shows that there is fantastic work happening all over Scotland, with community projects at the heart of a movement to get people walking.

“Projects like these are vital for keeping our communities active and connected and we were so pleased to see so many worthwhile nominations and winners.”

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