Diversity champion scoops top Scottish Walking Awards title

Expert judges also name winners of nine categories in national awards

18 May 2023

An Edinburgh adventurer who promotes diversity in the outdoors has been named as the Overall Champion of the Scottish Walking Awards.

Joshua Adeyemi wowed judges with his work to improve representation within the walking community, particularly by sharing walking inspiration via his influential “@talesbyjosh Instagram account. 

Joshua scooped the Media/Online Walking Champion award as well as the Overall Champion title, beating many dozens of entries to the awards run by Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland and Living Streets Scotland.

Nominations included everything from businesses, councils and land managers to the journalists, staff and local volunteers who are inspiring others to step out.

Joshua, who works as a financial analyst, said: “Winning this award is a deep honour, and I hope that my achievements will inspire others to connect with and care for Scotland's natural spaces. As a first-generation immigrant in Scotland, I consider myself fortunate to have quickly become acquainted with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act and its provisions for accessing wild spaces. The ability to freely explore Scotland's natural spaces has been of immense benefit to my physical and mental wellbeing, and I am passionate about sharing this privilege with others.” 

Joshua moved to Scotland about a decade ago from Nigeria and has been exploring the nation on foot ever since. Joshua is a co-founder of the popular Black Scottish Adventurers, a group that now has hundreds of members and thousands of social media followers.

Maree Todd, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport presented Joshua with his award during a walk in Holyrood Park and sent her congratulations to the eight other Scottish Walking Award category winners. 

Ms Todd said: “It’s been wonderful to meet Joshua and hear his passion for raising awareness of the benefits of walking. That’s certainly a passion I share. We want more people to walk and wheel more often. It is vital to our aim of creating a healthier nation and people like Joshua who give so much time, commitment and enthusiasm to helping others are vital in making that happen. I would also like to extend my gratitude and warmest congratulations to all the other worthy winners who continue to champion walking in Scotland.”

The awards are announced during National Walking Month. The other category winners are:

  • Public Sector Walking Champion: Dumfries & Galloway Council Environment Team

For securing investment and delivering the Galloway Glens Scheme, the Rhins of Galloway Coast path and the Criffel Summit to Sea path. McNabb Laurie, from Dumfries & Galloway Council Environment Team, said: “We’re just so excited to have won the award. There are so many things that we’ve been doing recently that are really nationally significant and exciting.”

  • Community Walking Champion: Walk in the Park volunteer Kath Millar
    For helping run hundreds of health walks in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, to support people to reconnect with their communities and rebuild their health. Kath said: “I’m very pleased although it feels strange to be given an award for doing something that I enjoy! My group in Callander has grown over the past year and I hope that it will continue to grow. I think walking with someone and chatting with them is very good for people.”
  • Business Walking Champion: Walkhighlands
    The website business plays a great role in providing walkers with free information on thousands of walking routes across Scotland, as well as useful community forums. Paul Webster, who runs Walkhighlands with his wife Helen from their home in the Cairngorms National Park, said: “Our lives have really been enriched by exploring Scotland’s outdoors. It’s got huge benefits both for your physical and mental health. We’re committed to keeping Walkhighlands a completely free resource so that we can make these benefits accessible to more people.”
  • Walking Research / Innovation: Go Jauntly
    A health and wellness company that has partnered with NHS Lanarkshire, Get Outdoors Lanarkshire, East Lothian Council and Salt of the Earth to bring self-guided walking trails to Scotland. Since launching these partnerships in May 2022, there have been 15.4k users of the Go Jauntly app in Scotland, totalling 184k app sessions. Go Jauntly CEO Hannah Sutch said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won. We’ve been working really hard to create easy access to walking routes across Scotland.”
  • Most Improved Walking Place: Friends of Monklands Canal Group
    For transforming a previously-muddy 1.5-mile route that connects Coatbridge town to schools and new housing developments on the Monklands Canal. Steve McCargo from the group said: “Up to now our volunteers have collected 4,500 bags of rubbish from the canal, which is disposed of by North Lanarkshire Council. We’ve also had a path upgraded, bench installed and added bins which are emptied each week.”
  • Land Manager Walking Champion: The Wildlife Trail to Loch Lomond project
    This new 1.5km trail at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Lomond nature reserve was developed specifically to enable people with varying abilities to be able to visit one of Scotland's most-loved locations. Paula Baker, RSPB site manager at Loch Lomond reserve, said: “It just feels like a privilege to have been able to do something like this and to open up so many opportunities for people. In the future we want to do more of the same, and offer nature as something that’s really beneficial for all.”
  • Walking Champion in Education: QMU Wellness Walks      

The university’s Wellness Walks offer leisurely one-hour walks in the local area for students and a chance to meet others, explore and relax. 

  • Healthcare Professional Walking Champion: NHS Grampian
    It has been a huge champion of walking, including running staff Step Count Challenges, achieving the Walk at Work Award and promoting the Cornhill Health Trails, a network of timed walking routes around hospital grounds. Katrina Schofield, Sustrans workplace engagement officer within NHS Grampian’s Public Health Team, said: “I’m delighted to accept this Scottish Walking Award on behalf of all our staff. We’ve really embraced walking culture in the past few years. This year over 1,800 staff took part in a Step Count Challenge - that’s over 10% of our staff.”

The category judges were Fiona Paterson from The Daily Mile Foundation, Fiona McInally from Cairngorms National Park, Professor Nanette Mutrie from University of Edinburgh, Richard Barron from ScotWays and Bridget Jones from NatureScot. The directors of the three organising charities selected the Overall Champion.

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