When it comes to Celebrate Aberdeen, unsung heroes abound. It’s hard to know where to start, let alone stop. Our parade and performances are characterised by so many people who go the extra mile for others, with no expectation of anything in return.

Given the abundance of good work and good will, it was nigh on impossible to select one individual to fly the flag (literally) for Celebrate Aberdeen. So we handed that responsibility back to our wonderful third sector parade participants. We asked them to nominate an extra special someone, who they felt was worthy of being our 2016 flagbearer. And boy, did they respond.

Confession: The Celebrate Aberdeen team came over quite teary when they read some of the nominations. The stories we received were both remarkable and heart-warming – and made our decision incredibly hard. That said, we are all completely convinced of the worth of our eventual winner, Wilma Mackland.

Who is Wilma? As written in her nomination “she is the glue that has kept Sunnybank Community Centre together”. This important city-based facility came under threat when several staff members were made redundant, however Wilma refused to give up on it. She kept the centre open, without any pay, until sufficient volunteers were recruited to form a management committee and take over its running.

The Sunnybank Community Centre – with Wilma at its helm – has been instrumental to the lives of many in the neighbourhood, particularly those who are vulnerable, or in danger of suffering from isolation. Its programme includes a variety of vocational and more formal learning opportunities for local people of all ages. In the words of her supporters: “Many families have received amazing support from both Wilma and Sunnybank Community Centre during the past few years.  In effect, the centre has become a surrogate family to many of its members with Wilma as mother hen!”

As if that’s not enough, the social media response to her announcement as flagbearer has been astounding.  The vocabulary surrounding Wilma includes words like “priceless”, “amazing” and “fantastic”.

Well done Wilma. We can’t wait for you to lead us on August 27th.

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