STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning

Helen Dowie Award Logo

The Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recognises outstanding trade unionists who continue to demonstrate their commitment to union values and lead the learning movement forward in Scotland.

The award is named in honour of Helen Dowie, who was involved in the trade union movement in Fife for most of her adult life. She worked in Rosyth Dockyard for twenty years and was active within the civil service unions. Through her union, Helen organised the yard, campaigned on initiatives and supported many workers. She took the union into the community through the organisation of the Rosyth Festival and music events, highlighting important union campaigns.

Along with her partner, Mike Morris, Helen started the Trades Council News in Fife. By writing, printing, editing and distributing the newssheet, Helen and Mike kept union members aware of the issues and also spread the word more widely throughout Fife. Helen and Mike made many solid friendships through their union involvement.

Helen worked to support the development of education and learning in Scotland. She was a key player in supporting the development of the lifelong learning agenda that union members know today, and she worked hard to secure financial backing to support unions in developing the role of the Union Learning Representative.

Helen’s life was devoted to supporting others through the trade union movement, and her untimely death was mourned by trade unionists throughout Scotland. This award commemorates Helen’s lifetime achievements in lifelong learning by recognising other trade unionists who work to champion union learning in Scotland.

Helen Dowie Award 2009

Helen Dowie Award presentation 2009JAMES LILLIS

Unite the Union ULR

First Glasgow

The fourth annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recipient was James Lillis. James is a Unite Union Learning Representative at First Glasgow, and he lives in Govan.

In his role, James makes learning opportunities accessible to all employees at First Glasgow. There are a large number of Eastern European migrant workers within the bus depot, so James learned to speak Polish. This has enabled him to help the migrant workers, and these workers return the favour by studying “Glaswegian”.

Helen Dowie Award 2008

Helen Dowie Award presentation 2008AUDREY McJIMPSEY

Community ULR

RSBi Blindcraft

The third annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recipient was Audrey McJimpsey. Audrey is a Community Union Learning Representative at RSBi Blindcraft in Springburn, Glasgow, and she lives in Carluke.

Audrey has been very active within the trade union movement since 1986, and currently supports local initiatives to promote union activity, especially union learning. She represents 100 members in her role as a Learning Rep within RSBi. A large percentage of the workforce is disabled at RSBi Blindcraft and Audrey has encouraged more than 75% of the workers to take up learning opportunities.

Audrey was presented with the third annual award at the STUC Annual Congress in Inverness in April 2008 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Helen Dowie Award 2007

Helen Dowie Award presentation 2007RACHAEL BONNAR

PCS Branch Co-ordinator


The second annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recipient was Rachael Bonner.

Rachael is a PCS Regional Learning Officer for HM Revenue and Customs in Cumbernauld. She has been pivotal in assisting PCS Scotland Learning Services in developing a sustainable learning structure within all of the HMRC branches in Scotland.

Helen Dowie Award 2006

Helen Dowie Award presentation 2006HELEN DOUGLAS

Amicus ULR


The first annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recipient was Helen Douglas, a Union Learning Representative for Unite at Remploy in Clydebank.

Helen suffered from polio as a child and is disabled as a result. She was chosen to receive this award because, although she had an extremely negative experience of education and developed tremendous psychological barriers to learning, Helen is straight talking and pro-active, and works hard to break down stigma and physical barriers to learning while negotiating with providers to meet the needs of members of Unite: Amicus and Community, the two unions in Remploy Clydebank.