Newbury fundraising star honoured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Points of Light award
FRIDAY was a special day for Newbury’s 105-year-old fundraising sensation Ruth Saunders as she received her Points of Light award.
The daily award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers making a difference in their community, was given to Mrs Saunders after she raised more than £50,000 for Thames Valley Air Ambulance by walking 104 laps of the roads around her home.
The certificate is dated November 4, 2020, coinciding with the end of Mrs Saunders’ walk, but the presentation of it had to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Mrs Saunders finally had her special day, as she and family and friends gathered at Newbury MP Laura Farris’ office to be presented the award.
The certificate, signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, reads: “Points of Light – Ruth Saunders.
“In recognition of your exceptional service fundraising for TVAA, you are presented with the UK’s 1518th Points of Light award on the 4th November 2020.”
An accompanying letter from the PM says: “Dear Ruth, congratulations on completing your marathon walk! I am lost in admiration for how, at the age of 104, you have walked 104 times around your local area raising funds for Thames Valley Air Ambulance.
“Like Captain Sir Tom before you, you are an inspiration to us all and a symbol of optimism for our nation. I am delighted to recognise you as the UK’s 1,518th Point of Light. Thank you and congratulations!”
It’s unknown who put Mrs Saunders forward for the award, with the result that it came completely out of the blue.
Mrs Saunders, who was born in Newbury and has lived in the town for most of her life, said: “I just took it in my stride like I’ve done all my life.
“I have a place in my hall where it’ll go, and the ambulance have given me a medal which will go on it too.”
Presenting the award to Mrs Saunders, Mrs Farris said: “We’re all so proud of you in Newbury and it’s such a huge achievement to win a Point of Light award because you’re in competition with the whole of the country.
“There are thousands of applicants and the award is a reflection of the scale of what you did for our community Ruth, and I’m so pleased you’ve been honoured by the Prime Minister.
“We’re all so proud of her, and I just can’t believe the vitality and character, and also hearing the real stories of Newbury from a time that’s long forgotten.”
Mrs Saunders is also preparing for a trip to London to receive her MBE, after being recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.
She has also reached the final 10 selection stage in the Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons 2021 Active Agers category.
Mrs Saunders reached the Active Agers selection stage out of 300 nominations overall chosen by the public.
The other categories are Against All Odds, Act Of Courage, Charity Champion, Coronavirus Hero, Young Hero, Hero Pet and Celebrity Hero.
Four finalists will be selected in each category and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 5.
Falklands War hero Simon Weston chairs the judging panel and presents the awards.