Sometimes in life we meet a person who shines so bright that we can only stop and stare. When I met Margaret Gibb at the RBS Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes award ceremony I instinctively knew why she had not only won her category – Community Champion of the Year but she had also won the overall Scotland’s Real Hero award for 2014. Margaret is a force to be reckoned with and also a kind and compassionate lady. For almost 40 years she has run playgroups, play schemes and holiday clubs for local children who had nowhere else to go. When a large housing estate sprung up in Bellshill and children tumbled out of the doors Margaret knew something had to be done. From her very first playgroup Margaret grew the provision year on year and she now helps others do the same.
This considerable commitment to local children and their parents has now been recognised as it should. Imagine giving over 40 years to help others? When talking to Margaret I could see the humour that she had shared with the entire audience that evening. But I could also see the compassion. I believe that we all like to think we are compassionate beings but in my experience only very few people really embrace this. To be compassionate requires a loving kindness for fellow human beings that knows no boundaries. Margaret’s compassion knows no boundaries and this is clear for all to see. Despite living with serious illness herself she continues to make a huge difference to her local community and it is for the rest of us to acknowledge that.
Margaret had wished that she hadn’t been nominated because she doesn’t do what she does for reward; she does it because she loves it. I could feel the nerves despite the humour as she took to the stage to accept the first award. She is a funny lady and that guided her through this moment with a real charm. I watched Margaret re-enter the auditorium after she had received her award to take her seat. I also saw the beaming smile on her face. She might not have needed the nomination but she was proud of what she has achieved and, I believe, very happy.
The smile just got bigger and bigger as the night went on and when she was awarded the overall award of RBS Scotland’s Real Hero 2014 she was bursting with pride and joy and so she should.
As generations of children have passed through Margaret’s compassionate and loving hands they have been touched by her contributions to their own lives. Margaret enriches the lives of others and I am not sure there is any greater legacy. This very funny lady took her moment with her daughters right by her side. I felt blessed to meet Margaret that evening and see that smile light up the room. I spent 10 minutes chatting with her and in that time I could see what others see on a daily basis. Every community needs a Margaret Gibb – a very real and inspiring hero.