Artizan announces ‘Dumbarton Hero’ finalists

Shopping centre is celebrating local legends
Artizan Shopping Centre has announced the line-up of finalists for its ‘Dumbarton Hero’ competition, which aims to put community members in the spotlight for making a difference to the lives of those around them.
Over recent weeks, people from across Dumbarton have been sharing stories with the shopping centre about their family members, friends, colleagues, business owners and more, who show great kindness and generosity towards others.
The public vote is now open to determine who deserves to be crowned Dumbarton Hero and win a luxury overnight getaway. To cast your vote, simply visit the Artizan Shopping Centre Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ArtizanShopping before Monday 12 November.
The first finalist is Amy Don, an 11-year-old photography fan, who will be holding charity Christmas photoshoots in a bid to help end homelessness. The youngster has been nominated by her auntie, Sharlane Conkie, who explained that over three days in December, Amy will be honing her camera skills by capturing family moments at Loch Lomond Shores in exchange for a small donation.
Amy has already completed one session and raised a fantastic £381, which went towards buying sleeping bags, hats and scarves for vulnerable people in the town. The proceeds from her other events will be split between two charities - See the Invisibles and the West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare at the Alexandria Community Centre. A keen fundraiser, Amy previously cut off her hair in aid of the Little Princess Trust.
Determined to keep the streets and natural beauty spots across West Dumbartonshire clean and tidy is the second finalist Jonathan Rainey, 24, who has been voluntarily picking litter for more than four years. Jonathan, who has high-functioning autism, first started collecting rubbish with a small plastic shopping bag in Overtoun Estate Woods during a family dog walk in August 2014.
His mum, Christine Rainey, says that even when on holiday in Southerness in Dumfries and Galloway, there’s no rest for Jonathan who always finds time to collect rubbish and upload the results to social media. He often takes part in local clean-up events, as well as volunteering with West Dunbartonshire Council’s Greenspace section to rid certain areas of fly-tipped items.
A passionate environmentalist, Jonathan also blogs about various topics surrounding litter, including the laws in Scotland, and shares videos of his experiences while doing his bit to clean up the town and surrounding areas.
Another popular member of the community – and the third person on the shortlist - is musician Alistair Ferguson, owner of Discography Records in the Bell Centre. For many years Alistair has been organising and hosting the monthly Dumbarton Acoustic Music Night at St Augustine's Church. He persuades established musicians and young talent to perform to crowds of people for free, and charges event-goers £5 at the door.
A percentage of the money raised is given to the church to cover expenses, with the rest donated to other good causes. Local charities including Children’s Hospices Across Scotland, Dumbarton Foodbank and the fund for a defibrillator in Newton have all benefited from Alistair’s efforts, says John Macgregor who submitted the nomination and has performed at the gig nights numerous times.
Last, but by no means least, is Melody Whitley who has been described by family friend, Helen Monaghan, as ‘the driving force’ behind H4TH Help for the Homeless - a voluntary group which helps the homeless community through donations of food and clothing.
Every Thursday, Melody and her mum prepare meals for approximately 200 people and with a team of volunteers, deliver and serve it at a variety of locations across the area for those without a permanent place to live. Melody collects all the donations of food from individuals and companies such as Tesco and Nando’s, as well as receiving support from various restaurants and pizza places.
Alongside this, Melody and the group collect clothes for people living on the street, as well as for children and their families residing in temporary accommodation for the homeless. She also advises many of the people she meets about form filling and helps them obtain furniture once they are in their new homes.
Stewart Gilmour, operations manager at Artizan Shopping Centre, said: “We have received so many wonderful nominations for the competition and as we suspected, there are many heroes in this great town.
“It’s been difficult to whittle them down to our final, fab four but now it’s up to the public to decide who will take the title,” said Stewart. “Be sure to have your say by voting on our Facebook page and we wish Amy, Jonathan, Alistair and Melody the very best of luck.”
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