The chair of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has highlighted the achievements of voluntary organisation the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) in delivering public benefits without costing the taxpayer a penny.
Andrew Thin was addressing the AGM of the MBA in Ballater on Saturday 19 October. He highlighted the growing importance of the voluntary sector in delivering public policy, and called for more partnerships between the public and voluntary sectors as a way to make up for the public spending squeeze.
Mr Thin, a MBA member since the 1980s, said:
'The MBA is one of the finest examples in the UK of voluntarism and philanthropy in action, delivering huge public benefit. It is to be commended for what it has achieved using volunteers and donations, including the generosity of bothy owners across Scotland [and beyond, Ed.] who make their buildings available for use as bothies.'
'Outdoor recreation is a key contributing factor in achieving and maintaining good public health across the population. The MBA's work is furthering this health agenda by supporting enjoyment of the outdoors. With public sector budgets falling, there is real scope for more partnership working between public and voluntary bodies. I envisage groups such as the MBA having an increasing role in meeting the challenges that we all share. By working hand in hand we could achieve so much more for the people of Scotland.'
Mr Thin referred to a recent visit he made to Dibidil bothy on Rum, which is owned by SNH. A few weeks before his visit, MBA volunteers had replaced the door and all of the windows as part of a maintenance programme to ensure that the building remained wind and water tight. One volunteer had made the door and windows at his own home and transported them to the island for the work party to install.
'The contribution that these volunteers made to the maintenance of Dibidil bothy is an example of practical charitable giving with clear benefits to those using the bothy as part of their outdoor experience' he said. 'This is an organisation with a big contribution to make to the future of our country.'