Another top award for Deesider Mario di Maio

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A well-known Deeside man was surprised to get a text telling him that he had been recognised by the UK Government for voluntary work.

Mario Di Maio, now living in Bieldside but born and bred in Culter, was recently enjoying a quiet coffee at the London Science Museum when he learned he had received a Point of Light Award for his 44 years of service with the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue team (AMRT), 19 as team leader.

Prime Minister David Cameron commented: “He has shown tremendous commitment and dedication to making sure others stay safe and I am delighted to award him a Point of Light.”

Mr Di Maio joined the AMRT as a teenager in 1970 and has since taken part in hundreds of mountain rescues, one of the saddest and most challenging being when, barely a year with the team, he took part in the notorious Cairngorm disaster in 1971 where a party of over 50 schoolchildren and their leaders were trapped.

Though the majority were rescued, sadly six of the party died. Subsequently, while continuing to work with AMRT, Di Maio went on to pursue a successful career in teaching youngsters on Deeside, first at Banchory Academy then since 1986 as deputy head of Aboyne Academy, from which he retired in August 2013.

The Point of Light Award recognises “outstanding contributions to the volunteering sector.”

He told the Piper: “The bizarre thing is that I still haven’t worked out how my name came before the Cabinet Office. All that has happened so far is that I have received a letter and a certificate.”

As the award follows the Distinguished Service Award he received last year from the Mountain Rescue Association of Scotland, he suspects the Association may have put his name forward.

Regarding his work with the AMRT, and despite retiring both from teaching and as leader of the team, Mario Di Maio said: “It’s been a busy year for the team and as long as I’m fit I’d like to go on, though I thought it was time to hand on the leadership.”

He he still hopes to go out on some rescues and will continue with his work training more young volunteers.