16 December 2020
A community hero from Clydebank has been crowned as the winner of Virgin Media’s ‘Local Legends’ campaign by a prestigious judging panel, including Captain Sir Tom Moore, for his selfless efforts during lockdown in 2020.
Jim Mclaren, aged 57, was nominated for Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition – which recognises those who have made a significant contribution to their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic – by a friend who praised him for everything that he had done in the community as part of Golden Friendships, a local charity that Jim started two years ago with a group of 20 volunteers.
A former taxi driver who spent 29 years behind the wheel, Mr Mclaren gave up his day job two years ago to fully commit to Golden Friendships. The charity, which provides a community space for disabled people and the elderly, had to adapt quickly after Covid-19 restrictions meant their facility had to close.
Over the past year, the charity has applied for grants and held fundraising events to pay for essential maintenance at their Golden Friendships Community Halls base in Clydebank.
Mr Mclaren said: “We had to close our community hall which meant many of our regular visitors went without our provision of care and daily activities. We delivered 27,000 packed lunches to those that needed it most, socially distanced walks and provided virtual entertainment including quizzes, bingo and live music.”
The winners of Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition, which launched to celebrate the switch-on of gigabit broadband services in Glasgow and surrounding areas, are awarded a tech makeover to the tune of £10,000 as well as Gig1 broadband for two years.
Konnie Huq, a member of Virgin Media’s Local Legends judging panel, added: “The Golden Friendships charity, led by the incredible Jim, performed miracles in their community to keep their users served with a range of exciting and meaningful activities. Everyone in Glasgow should be immensely proud of their work and they’re deserved winners of Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition.”
Captain Sir Tom Moore, a member of Virgin Media’s Local Legends judging panel, said: “Jim and the Golden Friendships charity showed quick thinking and imagination to adapt their services and support so that they could still reach and serve their community. The charity is a worthy winner of Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition and we hope that they keep up the great work in their community.”
On hearing the news that he had been nominated and won the Local Legends competition in Glasgow, Mr Mclaren said he was ‘overwhelmed’. He said: “I was so overwhelmed by it all that I actually burst into tears. It’s so nice to know that others appreciate the work that you do and gives you the motivation to keep going.”
All of the prizes and Gig1 broadband that were part of the Local Legends reward, will be put to use at the Golden Friendship’s community hall.
He said: “Winning the Local Legends prize couldn’t have come at a better time. We rely entirely on grants and donations for the maintenance of our facility and our events and daily activities. The hyperfast broadband from Virgin Media will allow us to virtually connect with our users due to the current lockdown and, once we reopen, they will be able to benefit from the latest tech.
“The new projectors will be great for karaoke and movie nights. The games consoles will be in our dedicated gaming zone along with new TV’s and the iPads and laptops will provide additional entertainment.”
Mr Mclaren has called on others to be mindful of those around them with another lockdown in force in Scotland. He said: “It’s important that we are mindful of those around us. We do lots of work on social media to raise awareness of our services so that anyone can get in touch.”
Mr Mclaren was voted the winner for Glasgow by a prestigious judging panel made up of Captain Sir Tom Moore, TV presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq, members from Glasgow City Council and a Virgin Media representative.
Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition has also been running in Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool with future locations set to be announced in the near future.