Two Bearsden women honoured by Queen

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Two Bearsden women have been recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours list by the Queen.

Margarita Sweeney-Baird (59), the founder and chairwoman of Inclusive Skating, is to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to skating, while Manjulika Singh (65) gets an MBE for services to yoga health and community cohension.

Margarita’s work has changed the lives of many young disabled or impaired people who benefit from improved motors skills, confidence and generally, social inclusion through being able to skate.

A former Scottish Ladies Figure Skating Champion herself, Margarita started inclusive skating in 2010 after recognising there was no provision in the UK.

She was originally motivated by a desire to bring the Special Olympics containing skating to the UK after she was awarded a scholarship to Harvard Law School and met Senator Ted Kennedy at a reception in 1987.

Events are now held for all disabilities and challenges, even wheelchair participants.

The mum-of-three has travelled constantly across the UK promoting the charity and supporting the creation of new clubs.

Inclusive Skating meeting at The Time Capsule in Coatbridge, with numbers having grown from a few attendees to between 20-30 at many sessions.

In 2017, four of the skaters became Special Olympians as they represented Team GB at the Special Olympics in Austria, winning two gold medals.

Margarita said: “Inclusive Skating is not just about the medals, it is about having those that are marginalised becoming part of a community and part of society.

“Nobody who wants to be involved is left behind, and the club system and framework has been adopted by numerous clubs across the world.”

Manjulika has been a radio broadcaster for nine years on Asian Radio station AwazFm, for the last three year years presenting a programme called Sanatan Dharma Chaupal.

She promotes personal development in order to promote peace, harmony, prosperity, equilibrium and balance.

In the local area Manjulika established voluntary yoga teaching for all 12 years ago, which has resulted in approximately 50 people regularly attending classes at Bearsden Burgh Hall and Sports Direct Fitness in Milngavie.

Her kindly, humorous and inclusive approach have proven so popular that classes are regularly full.

In addition Manjulika has also run classes for refugees, the deaf and blind, Women’s Day, children, nursery staff and people with mental health issues.

At the East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership Staff Awards in 2017, the former NHS Practice Manager received a Special Recognition award for her yoga classes.

Manjulika has also raised money for a number of charities through sponsored 10k runs and walks, been presnted with an Unsung Hero Award in 2018 by the Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association and was a baton bearer for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.