HUNGERFORD saluted its civic heroes this week in the annual Freedom of the Town awards.
This year’s recipients, who were presented with their medal and certificate by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, James Puxley, are Janette Kersey, David Clayton and Neale Marney.
The ceremony in the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon was packed with civic dignitaries and former recipients of the award.
Town mayor Martin Crane said that, in the current economic climate when West Berkshire Council was cutting front-line services, “we will have to do more and more for ourselves”.
Praising this year’s recipients along with their predecessors, Mr Crane said: “They represent the community spirit that is so vital to Hungerford, and never more so than at this moment.”
Mrs Kersey was born in Bedwyn and has lived in Hungerford for the past 40 years, raising a family while working at the former Charles Lucas and Marshall office in the High Street and then at the Hungerford Surgery where she will have completed 25 years later this year.
During this time she has been the town mayor twice and she has worked for the CHAIN charity for many years, currently as chairwoman.
Mr Crane described her as “a true Hungerfordian”.
In addition she has been head of the Hungerford Primary School board of governors.
Mrs Kersey, whose family accompanied her to the ceremony, thanked those who nominated her and said: “This town is very dear to me, as is the CHAIN charity which helps the vulnerable and needy.”
David Clayton has chaired and directed the Community of Hungerford Theatre Club since 1991 and Mr Crane praised his “dedication to the dramatic arts in Hungerford which has enabled many young people to excel, gain self-confidence and set them on the road to a successful future”.
Mr Clayton is also the driving force behind the Young Performers, Youth Theatre and children’s theatre from which many have gone on to study dramatic art and some to earn a living in the profession.
Mr Crane said: “The community spirit of Hungerford is absolutely exemplified by his work.”
Mr Clayton said: “Helping people, particularly children, with an interest in the arts has been an absolute delight.”
Mr Crane praised Neale Marney’s selfless dedication to Hungerford and to civic duties, from his work installing defibrillators to being a “mainstay” of the annual Victorian Extravaganza.
Mr Marney was chairman of Hungerford Primary School governors for many years and is a former president of the town’s Tuesday Club.
He is also a chorister and churchwarden at St Lawrence Church.
Mr Marney said: “What I do is a joy. My dad visited today and said: ‘This town is something else, there’s a different feel to it than everywhere else.’
“I agree – it’s a lovely town with a wonderful community spirit and we’ve got to keep that going.
“We must continue to work to make Hungerford a better place for the years to come.
“I’m very honoured to have this award and I shall cherish it.”
Inaugurated in 2012 by Mr Crane, the awards are intended “to promote good citizenship by recognising as role models those in our midst who by their actions and demeanour have demonstrated exceptionally loyal service to the benefit of the town”.