Tragic MP heads nominations
Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered last year, heads nominations for an all-female Burns Humanitarian Award this year.
She is joined by Marcelline Budza, a young Congolese woman working to empower women, and Margaret Simpson MBE who has helped change lives for disabled people in the Scottish Borders.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Alloway on Sunday 29 January.
Cox, the former MP for Batley and Spen, spent her life in a variety of humanitarian and charity sector roles before being elected to Westminster. She was killed by a far right terrorist in June 2016 and millions of pounds have been raised in her name since then to ensure her good work continues.
Marcelline Budza, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, founded the women’s coffee producing association Rebuild Women’s Hope in 2013. In a country considered the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman, she has helped women regain their economic empowerment as coffee farmers and become active participants in society and the economy.
And Margaret Simpson is nominated for creating the Disabled Persons Housing Services (Borders) almost 20 years ago. It provides a one-stop shop on all aspects of housing for people with a disability.
Winners receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas (approximately £1,800) – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation.
Bill McIntosh, chair of the judging panel and Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "These three very worthy women are all very different and have carried out their humanitarian works in very different ways.
"However, the one thing they have in common is that they well and truly live up to the principles and ethos of Robert Burns and are devoted to delivering social change on the ground and making a real difference for others.
“They have all shown a clear passion and commitment to human rights and a determination to battle inequality, injustice and intolerance. I’m very proud to see such a strong line-up for this year’s Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and I wish them all the very best of luck."