Playwright and performer wins Burns Humanitarian Award
The founder of a theatre group which helps those battling addiction has won the 2021 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. Mark Williamson won the prestigious award recently during a special online ceremony.
Part of the annual Burns an' a' that! Festival celebrations, the RBHA is supported by South Ayrshire Council. Mark is the founder of 'Sweet for Addicts', a non-profit recovery-based theatre group based in Glasgow. Mark formed the group in 2006 and has since worked with hundreds of people as they journey their way out of addiction. Everyone who performs with Sweet for Addicts has a connection with addiction, whether person or through, a loved one, friend, acquaintance or family member. Mark does not hold auditions, but instead offers everyone the opportunity to be involved in a positive way. Whether that's choosing to go on stage and act, sing or dance, or to play an important role through the lighting, sound and prop preparation. Since 2006, Mark has taken Sweet for Addicts to venues throughout Scotland to perform more than 20 plays, many of which he has written or directed. On receiving the RBHA, Mark said: “I would like to congratulate everyone who was nominated, I was stunned to find myself a finalist in such company as Dr Varatharajah Thurairajah and Dr Alexander Paterson, and to win this award is a real honour. I accept this and dedicate it to all who have worked with Sweet for Addicts and to those we have lost along the way.” Chair of the RBHA judging panel and Leader of South Ayrshire Council, Councillor Peter Henderson said: “Congratulations to Mark, without his intervention there would be many more people battling addiction across Scotland. Mark goes out of his way to give everyone a chance no matter their circumstances, he is an inspiration to us all.” Also recognised at the award ceremony were fellow finalists Dr Varatharajah Thurairajah and Dr Alexander Paterson. Dr Varatharajah Thurairajah, also known as Dr Varathan, treated civilians caught up in the Sri Lankan civil war which lasted for 26 years. Dr Alexander 'Sandy' Paterson is a medical oncologist whose work is renowned around the world. As well as practising in the UK, US and Canada during his career, he also volunteers in the teaching of medical skills to students all over the world. As well as the RBHA 2021 title, Mark receives the equivalent of 1759 guineas (approximately £1,800) – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage in circulation at that time. For more information about the RBHA visit www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/burnsaward/