An Auchinleck man has made it to the final of the Scotrail in the Community Awards after being recognised for his contribution to the local community.

Jordan Whiteford has been volunteering at The Knowe Garden Centre for a year and continued to do so during lockdown despite suffering with cerebral palsy.

The 35-year-old has coordination problems with his hands and feet, but says volunteering at the centre has helped both his mental and physical development thanks to the support of the Garden Centre team.

Cumnock Chronicle: Jordan volunteering.Jordan volunteering.

Jordan said: “I’m really happy, I didn’t expect to get this far so it’s a shock. I didn’t expect them to nominate me either.

“I was referred a year ago by Debbie O’Driscoll at Yipworld. I got in contact with her because I’ve got learning difficulties so it’s hard for me to get any work because of what’s wrong with me.

“Debbie got me to where I am just now. I’m in the centre every day and it’s helped a lot. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know what would’ve happened for me because I was struggling before that.

“Meg is the head gardener so she’s a big part of what we do. Meg also helped me to where I am today. She does a lot to keep the place going.”

Kaye Hannah, Garden Centre manager, deems Jordan “invaluable” and said the nomination is well-deserved.

She said: “It’s been a big transition for Jordan. He doesn’t like change and was going to give up a few times but he was supported by Meg Robert and myself to keep engaging with us.

Cumnock Chronicle: Jordan and the volunteers at The Knowe Garden Centre.Jordan and the volunteers at The Knowe Garden Centre.

“He is now more steady in every way, even his walking and stamina has improved enormously. He volunteered right through lockdown and doesn’t want a day off. He feels better when he is with us volunteering. He enjoys the company and the laughs.

“I am very proud of Jordan. I tell the staff he’s there because he wants to be, not because he has to be.

“Everyone who gets paid can be replaced, including me, but a loyal volunteer is invaluable. I wish I had another six volunteers like him.”

The Scotrail in the Community Awards gives volunteers from across Scotland the opportunity to attend workshops, mingle with other volunteers and share stories.

This year, due to COVID-19, the ceremony will take place virtually on November 26.

Tracy Stevenson, Scotrail Community Development Officer, explained: “The awards were first held last year in the Glasgow Central Hotel and they were a huge success.

“The volunteers went away saying how how truly appreciated they felt and how they could really feel the love and joy in the room.

“It’s about saying, ‘you’re fabulous’.”