Garrion People’s Housing Co-operative vice chair wins Helen McGregor Award 2015

Winner Patryk Topolski and Cat Harvey
Winner Patryk Topolski and Cat Harvey

Patryk Topolski, vice chair of Garrion People’s Housing Co-operative Ltd, has been announced as the winner of this year’s Helen McGregor Award.

Fresh from trekking The Great Wall of China for CHAS, TV and radio presenter Cat Harvey announced Patryk as the winner to the gathered audience at the opening evening of EVH’s annual conference at Dalmahoy Country Club on October 23.

Cunninghame Housing Association sponsored the award which Cat presented to Patryk, coincidentally the youngest ever winner of the award, along with a winner’s cheque for £500.

Patryk fought off stiff competition from fellow volunteers throughout Scotland who give freely of their own time and efforts to improve local communities. He moved to Gowkthrapple from Poland at the age of 13 in 2007 and joined Garrion’s People’s Housing Co-operative’s management committee two years ago aiming to improve the image of Gowkthrapple, meet new people and become a more confident public speaker.

Being new, Patryk wanted to be part of the community and do something for his new home. He brought a new perspective to the management committee with his optimism and issues raised at meetings. Elected as secretary and then vice chair, Patryk’s leads meetings which have also given him skills for studying a Business Management Honours Degree.

Patryk and Cat with award sponsor Cunninghame Housing Association’s representative Steve Good
Patryk and Cat with award sponsor Cunninghame Housing Association’s representative Steve Good

Not content with volunteering for Garrion Housing People’s Co-operative, Patryk also volunteers for the local voluntary group, Gowkthrapple Organisation for Leisure and Development. In March he was elected chair, the first Polish volunteer to hold the position. Patryk organises and co-ordinates a variety of leisure and development activities and services for the local community. A new community café has been developed offering healthy low cost food in partnership with the NHS, a parent and toddler group has been introduced, as has a summer programme of youth activities, a new junior club and youth club, older people’s tea dances and community fitness classes.

Patryk was invited to present at the Scottish Parliament as part of the Big Lottery’s birthday celebrations. As a result the depute first minister paid a visit to Gowkthrapple meeting with Patryk and other volunteers. Last year Patryk’s voluntary commitment was recognised by the local volunteer centre. He was awarded a 5oo hour Saltire Award signed by the first minister.

Everything Patryk does is to enhance the life quality of residents in Gowkthrapple. Promoting intercultural activities between the Scottish and Polish community has been no easy task but thanks to Patryk’s skills and friendly nature the community has become one.

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