Robert Burns quest underway to find deserving humanitarians

A worldwide quest is on for the next six weeks to find the person – or group – that emulates Scotland’s national Bard through the desire, dedication and will to make a difference and effect social change.

The quest for nominations for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2014 – one of the world's most prestigious humanitarian accolades – will continue until Friday 1 November 2013.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award – supported by South Ayrshire Council and EventScotland, through Scotland’s Winter Festivals – recognises a group or individual who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or 'hands on' charitable work.

Winners receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation – as well as a specially commissioned award handcrafted in Scotland.

Nominees must – either through a particular achievement or a series of efforts – have demonstrated one of more of the following:

* A courageous deed involving personal self-sacrifice, going beyond the call of duty in the name of humanity and/or charity.

* A commitment to serving others through an act or acts of selfless service.

* A generosity of spirit and dedication helping improve the quality of life for people in need through the provision of shelter, food, clothing, education or meaningful employment.

* Direct ‘hands-on’ participation in a charitable act directly benefitting an individual or groups of individuals or community.

* Outstanding involvement and dedication that makes a significant contribution to volunteer leadership or service which has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity and society as a whole.

* An act of kindness done without expectation of reward that has resulted in recognition by members of a community/family institution.

The 2013 winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award was Khalil Dale MBE, a British Red Cross aid worker who was abducted and killed in Pakistan in 2012. The 60-year-old, who grew up in Dumfries, spent decades working to help vulnerable people in some of the most dangerous places in the world. Last year, he was abducted and killed in Pakistan while working to make a difference for people wounded in conflict.

Previous recipients include Karen Graham, a Scottish nurse working within the Oil Clinic in Tripoli, Libya who cared for patients – with little regard for her own personal safety – during the Libyan civil war conflict; Linda Norgrove, the Scottish aid worker who died during a US military-led rescue mission to free her from Afghanistani captors; Habib Malik, Scotland Manager of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and a member Islamic Relief; and Guy Willoughby, Founder and CEO of the HALO Trust which specialises in the removal of war debris.

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Chair of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2014 judging panel, said: "Burns is renowned the world over not just for his literary works, but for his passionate promotion of human rights and social reform – and we want to find those who are doing exactly the same, some 255 years after the Bard was born.

"We're looking for nominations for the many individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty to help those who cannot help themselves in every corner of the globe, exemplifying tolerance, friendship and humanity.

"Making other people’s lives better is what has connected all our previous winners from John Sulston in 2002 to Khalil Dale earlier this year. We know there are many other Johns and Khalils out there – and so do you – so get nominating now.”

Nominees can be from any part of the world and be of any age or gender.

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland added: “In 2014, the year of Homecoming Scotland, it is fitting that we once again celebrate outstanding individuals with The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.

“Every year, the stories we hear through the awards highlight the people who go out of their way to make a difference to the lives of others, and it is important that they are recognised for the work they do. The event is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, which begins this year with St Andrew’s Day, and culminates on Burns Night 2014, when the next recipient of this prestigious award will be announced.”

Nominations for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2014 can be made online at and nominations close on Friday 1 November 2013.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway on 25 January, which will coincide with the 255th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns and the 2014 Year of Homecoming Scotland.

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