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The Robert Burns Humanitarians

Burns Humanitarian Awards
The Herald
Burns Night

Since its formation in 2002, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award has recognised the dedication, celebrated the selflessness and paid tribute to the sacrifice of each recipient of the award – all exceptional people with incredible stories to tell.

The most recent winner of Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is Olivia Giles – an Edinburgh lawyer who lost her hands and feet following a serious illness and then set up a charity to provide people in developing countries with prosthetic limbs so they can walk.

It was 13 years ago, after contracting meningitis and needing emergency surgery, that Olivia had to be told the devastating news that her hands and feet had been amputated to save her life.

Once back to full strength and very conscious how lucky she was to be alive, Olivia began to raise both money and awareness for the likes of the Meningitis Trust and other charities.

During this time, Olivia learned about the difficulties experienced by amputees in developing countries, who didn't have access to the same kind of healthcare and support that she herself had experienced.

Instead, many of these people – including large numbers of children – were ostracised from their community and Olivia set out to tackle this by founding the charity, '500 miles', just five years' after the loss of her hands and feet.

500 miles is all about supporting the development and delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services to people with impaired mobility in Malawi, Zambia and, to a lesser degree, in Zanzibar. Thanks to Olivia's efforts, 500 miles now has two centres in Malawi, run in cooperation with the Malawian Ministry of Health. Together, these centres now provide more than 1,650 devices each year to people who badly need them.

The charity also funds and subsidises people to receive prosthetic and orthotic devices in Zanzibar and Zambia. Olivia's work for the charity was recognised in 2010 when she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen.

Olivia is the latest in a long line of worthy Robert Burns Humanitarian Award winners

  • 2014 - Blanche Nicolson
  • 2013 - Khalil Dale
  • 2012 - Karen Graham
  • 2011 - Linda Norgrove
  • 2010 - Habib Malik
  • 2009 - Guy Willoughby
  • 2008 - Jonathon Kaplan
  • 2007 - Abi Roche
  • 2006 - Marla Ruzicka
  • 2005 - Pius Ncube
  • 2004 - Clive Stafford Smith
  • 2003 - Yitzhak Frankenthal
  • 2002 - Sir John E Sulston

Find out more about the past winners of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.

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Last updated: 25 February 2016

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