East Region Community Recognition Award Winners Announced

East Region Community Recognition Award Winners Announced

The 2024 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners from the East region have today been announced following their presentation on Saturday 9 March.

The Community Recognition Awards are Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools across Scotland over the course of the season.

Award winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season, and the Community Referee of the Season.

Scottish Rugby Regional Director for the East region, David Drummond said: “It has been another tremendously successful year for the East region. This is testament to the countless volunteers across the region who give their time to grow the game of rugby.

“The Community Recognition Awards are designed to celebrate the work and commitment our clubs and schools show to both the sport and their local community. We are humbled and grateful for their continuous work”.

Scottish Rugby President, Colin Rigby added: “As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is really important that we recognise and share our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable.

“We again received hundreds of applications to the Community Recognition Awards this year, and although it was a tough job for the Regional Panels to narrow it down to the winners, it shows how many people in Scottish rugby are noticed and appreciated for all they do, and personally, I cannot thank them enough.”

The respective winners are listed below:

Volunteer of the Season in Youth Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Steven Halliday (Dalkeith RFC)

Former Dalkeith Captain and President Steven receives the Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby award following a successful year both on and off the pitch. After years of struggling for numbers within their youth teams, 2023 has seen a significant rise in participation at the club, with a lot of this down to Steven. Dalkeith now boasts over 300 youngsters within their minis and youth departments, with four boys’ sides and the start-up of girls’ teams, all through Steven’s work.

Now in his role as Director of Youth Rugby, Steven coaches the under-18 side, the first such team Dalkeith have had at that age group for over ten years. He has grown participation significantly and there are now has 36 registered players within the squad. In 2023, the team made the National School Bowl Final at Murrayfield, where they lost out to Musselburgh Youth. However, making a national final for the first time in their history is an achievement which has by no means gone unnoticed.

In 2023 Steven was central to the setup of Dalkeith’s first school of rugby, where they joined forces with Newbattle High School. Numbers have grown and are expected to continue to do so this year. The school of rugby offers the game to children from many different backgrounds across the primary and secondary setting. Steven has personally supported the youth players, delivering first aid courses, running mental health workshops and encouraging the pupils into supporting the running of the club.

“As well as his work for Dalkeith, Stevie is actively involved in the running of regional rugby as Chair of the East Region Competition Committee and is the East Regional rep for the Championship Committee.  Dalkeith rugby club is a growing, family and community club, with some fantastic successes in 2023. Stevie is a huge part of that and we as a club feel he should be recognised for his contributions”- Jamie Simpson, of Dalkeith RFC.


Volunteer of the Season in Adult Rugby -Jason Conlin (Stewart’s Melville RFC)

Jason- a former Stewart’s Melville player and captain got re-involved with the club on his return from years working in Hong Kong. While in China, he was involved with Kowloon RFC, chairing them and promoting their Community Day Programme.

Back on Scottish soil with Stewart’s Melville, he brought forward the idea to introduce a similar initiative, to give back to the wider community while allowing the club sponsors to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) targets.

Off the back of this proposal, the club have already run three community days this season, with a further three planned. Community days are free and involve an inclusive, multi-sport programme of fun events for children aged 4-14 with any disability and their siblings. This brings together the club Community Sponsors, young adults from two local schools (Stewart’s Melville College & Mary Erskine School) and representatives from other sports organisations, including Spartans FC. The young people acting as Sports Leaders for the events receive appropriate training and can count the Community Days towards their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

“Stewart’s Melville as a club and as a committee have never done anything like this before, having been almost entirely focussed on our on-field activities. The fact that Jason has, within a couple of seasons, manage to ‘sell’ the idea of the Community Days to our normally sceptical committee is extraordinary.   What is even more amazing is that Jason has managed to find time and energy to launch and sustain the Community Days programme on top of his day job, the responsibilities of being a father with young children and his role as Vice President of Stewart’s Melville RFC”- Bill McNie- Stewart’s Melville President. 


Volunteer of the Season in Schools Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Struan Dickson (The Royal High School)

Since joining the Royal High School in 2021, Struan saved the S2 boys team from disbandment through his own enjoyment and dedication to rugby. He has been a role model to the team, welcoming in players from other schools who don’t get rugby in their curriculum and making the team accessible for all.

Parents have highlighted the extensive work and dedication Struan has given to the team on top of his already busy schedule of work and college. He often dips into his own pocket to buy kit like support tape, which, on top of everything else he does has gained him huge respect from the players and parents. As a result of this dedication, there is now a strong parent committee group which supports the team with fundraising, events and refreshments for home games.

Struan has been instrumental in facilitating the progression of 13 boys onto the Scottish Pathways Program. His support and dedication got the team to the quarter final of the Scottish Cup. This was a huge achievement as they were the first state school to ever achieve this. Although they were defeated, this instilled them with renewed determination and confidence that anything is possible.

“Struan has been my mentor and coach from the start of S2 at high school. Due to Covid and our head of rugby leaving I was worried our team would discontinue. Thanks to Struan I am playing my best rugby, am part of the pathways programme and winning the conference league and getting to the quarterfinals of the Scottish Cup. He has supported me in the role of Captain and also in my personal life. Struan has showed the team resilience and positive attitude and has created a very special team”- S4 Team Captain.

“My son lacked confidence to the point where he was about to quit rugby when he started to be coached by Struan. Since joining the team I’ve seen him grow in terms of confidence, his self-discipline, his commitment to the sport and his respect for others. This is apparent in his attitude to rugby, his commitment to training and in all other aspects of his life. The confidence my son has developed is rippling into how he approaches schoolwork, training and his personal life. The impact Struan has had on him as a leader really cannot be overstated”- S3 Parent.

Young Person’s Award- Ethan Wilson (Gala Rugby)

Ethan joined Gala Rugby four years ago when he moved with his family to be closer to the regional development centre at Borders College.

Quickly settling into Under-16 rugby, Ethan engaged with players, coaches, and the wider club, identifying that he would like to get involved in the club’s rugby development pathway. He then took on the role of lead coach for one of the minis teams after their coach left for other commitments.  This effectively enabled 20 young boys and girls to continue to play the sport over the last three-and-a-half years.

Ethan further volunteered to support the club’s Youth Development Officer with after-school coaching of the school’s S3 group, which he has followed this year by being part of the coaching team as their group progress through U16 rugby. Ethan coaches in a way that allows him to pass on his contemporary knowledge of the game in a relatable manner to the players. The commitment of someone so young to give so much back to the game has been commended by those who have nominated Ethan.

Ethan has assisted with a programme which promotes the expansion of rugby to those who haven’t yet played the game. He shared his experiences of what the game has to offer and how it helps him develop key life skills, behaviour, discipline and community spirit.

His commitment hasn’t stopped there, as Ethan is involved in Gala Rugby’s events committee, not only helping to organise youth awards dinner, but also significant events like ‘Marooned@Gala’ which is the largest event on the calendar for the club.

Ethan’s continued selflessness to youth rugby has prompted this award. His ability to jump in and do whatever it takes to grow rugby with young players and support the long-term viability of rugby in Galashiels has been admirable.


Community Club of the Season- Dalkeith RFC

Founded in 1898, Dalkeith RFC have rugby opportunities for toddlers right through to those in their 70s. This extensive coverage of the game spans from rugby introductions for 2-5 year olds to walking rugby for those who aren’t as able, but still have the passion for the game.
A key aim for the club is to keep the cost of participation as low as possible. The local area falls into the 10% most deprived areas in Scotland so memberships start from as little as £1 a week. The club also have a bootbank where those who potentially can’t afford boots of their own can still participate regardless.

Dalkeith’s launch of their school of rugby alongside Newbattle High School has aimed to offer rugby to as many pupils as possible, opening the door to pupils who have never had the opportunity to play before. Improvement in physical and mental wellbeing has been noticed because of this, with ten new girls joining their girl’s youth section. The club also launched their first women’s side in 15 years, who compete in the Aspire league with over 20 currently active players.

In a recent survey by the club, members said:

“I have been hugely impressed by the opportunities provided for children/young players & the positive, encouraging ethos shown by the club & its coaches. Family, community & fun are at the heart of the club’s ethos & activities. They have the boys’ best interests at heart and in turn there is a really good team spirit among the players which is really nice to see. The annual fees are very reasonable allowing low-income parents to be able to manage to pay so their kids don’t miss out. The coaches are very dedicated and amazing overall with the players”.

Community Referee of the Season- Andrew Edgar (Border Rugby Referees)

Andrew has refereed matches across the area for three decades. Every week during these 30 years he has given up his time to provide games of rugby for hundreds of players.

In his early officiating years he worked his way up to the National Panel of Referees and was involved at that level for a while. When he realised he was spending more time travelling each week he came back to the society and has been helping out ever since.

The respect Andrew has gained from clubs and players alike is credit to his refereeing style and how he manages games, and Andrew is always on hand to referee at whatever level is necessary. His adaptability to handle any game he is assigned to with ease is something which has been heavily praised by those within the referees group. Andrew is also keen to promote the benefits of becoming a referee, particularly at society meetings which he frequently attends.

“Andrew is very much a quiet individual who is always willing and able to help and to have been so committed to any organisation for 30 years is a considerable achievement. The fact the role he is undertaking each week is one where there is considerable pressure put on the body but also the mentality where the referee can be subjected to abuse says a huge amount about his commitment. His nomination really is down to his length of service and his ability to maintain his standards for so long. He is well liked by clubs, players and his colleagues within the Referees Society”- Iain Heard.

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