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West Berkshire honours its community champions

Residents recognised across four categories

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886633

West Berkshire honours its 2020 community champions

West Berkshire’s great and good have been honoured with Community Champion Awards.

The awards, which are organised by West Berkshire Council, recognise the contribution local residents make to the district. There are four awards; the Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award, Volunteer of the Year, Community Group of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at Shaw House on Monday.

The Community Champions Award Lifetime Achievement Award went to the late Colleen Walker and Jane Fairchild, Mrs Walker’s daughter.

The panel was extremely impressed by Mrs Walker’s dedication and commitment to helping others.

“It was clear from the nomination that Colleen spent all her working life in a caring capacity and this compassionate ethos carried on in her wonderful charity work.

“The panel felt that despite her own ill-health and family bereavement, Colleen managed to turn her suffering into a force for good.

“The panel was incredibly impressed by the huge amount of money raised for local charities and, latterly, exclusively for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice.

“It is hoped that this award celebrates the wonderful legacy left by Colleen.”

The panel awarded two commendations and one highly commended award based on the strength of the nominations. 

The highly commended award in this category went to Marcus Allum, who was nominated by Richard Keene.

Mr Allum is a lifelong resident of West Berkshire, having been brought up in Chapel Row, he has a business in Beenham and is currently chairman of Frilsham Parish Council.

Mr Allum is the fourth generation of church bell-ringers in his family and has been a bell-ringer for more than 48 years.

As well as being in charge of St Mary’s Church bell tower in Beenham, the panel said that Mr Allum is happiest spending his time at grass roots level, introducing and teaching new bell-ringers.

He is also a very active officer of the Newbury branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers and has supported the growth, maintenance and governance of bell towers throughout West Berkshire.

“In short, Marcus has made a real difference to the sustainability of bell ringing in West Berkshire and actively encouraged new members to join and the community to become involved,” the panel said.

“Marcus is a ‘leading light’ in terms of trying to bring people together, especially when encouraging younger people to get involved in bell ringing, whilst preserving important traditions.”

Wynne Frankum picked up one of the commended awards after being nominated by Bucklebury Parish Council for her commitment and service to the community of Bucklebury.

The panel remarked on the number of local community initiatives Mrs Frankum had organised and commented that they have all been a change for the good and had a positive impact.

“It was clear that Wynne is also a great enabler of groups of people and works hard to bring the community together,” they said.

Robert Alderman was the other winner after being nominated by Sarah Warburton on behalf of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust for 68 years of voluntary work with the trust.

The panel was extremely impressed that Mr Alderman had dedicated so many years active voluntary work, joining at its inception in 1951.

“The commitment shown by Robert over the years is amazing and his willingness to help others (both service users and his fellow volunteers) was evident in the nomination.”

Joint winners of the Pat Eastop Junior Citizen Award were Benjamin Kaesser and Finlay Beavan.

Mr Kaesser was nominated by Lucille Harrison of Swings & Smiles for his voluntary work at the charity. 

The judges were impressed with Mr Kaesser’s dedication shown at the age of 14 and how much he is loved by children at Swings & Smiles. 

They said: “It is clear that Benjamin has a very positive and happy attitude and this has been a real benefit to the children.

“The panel felt that Benjamin really enjoys what he does and that is reflected in the brilliant relationships he has created with everyone he works with.

“The respite provided by this service is greatly appreciated by both the children and families.”

Finlay Beavan was nominated by the headteacher of Kennet School, Gemma Piper, for his “wonderful contributions to his local community” including a sponsored run to highlight homelessness.

The panel said they were extremely impressed by the dedication and caring attitude displayed by Finlay at the age of 17.

“Finlay’s sponsored run to highlight the needs of the homeless and his determination to do so, particularly impressed the judges.

“The panel felt that Finlay has matured into the varied roles he undertakes and has shown great leadership skills at a young age.

“It was clear to the panel that Finlay’s involvement in local community affairs, illustrated perfectly the essence of a ‘junior citizen’ and his desire to improve the town where he lives.”

The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Jana Little, who was nominated by seven people.

Mrs Little was nominated for setting up and running a local Terracyle scheme, which has diverted considerable waste from landfill as well as raising money for a local charity.

The panel said they were “extremely impressed by the commitment and drive shown by Jana to single-handedly set up a system of collecting waste plastic from Thatcham and neighbouring towns in readiness to send to Terracycle for recycling”.

They added that Mrs Little was  “an inspiration to others and this is shown in how effectively she has mobilised people to work together to stop waste going to landfill”.

They said: “Jana also attends events to promote Terracycle and educates the public about recycling.

“The dedication and time spent by Jana in this task demonstrates why she is a worthy winner.”

Highly commended awards were presented to Tessa Brown and Steve Masters.

Mrs Brown was nominated by Maureen Martin for her voluntary work at the Hungerford Nursery School Centre.

The panel said that Mrs Brown’s commitment and dedication to the community of Hungerford “shone through” in the nomination.

They added that while she had undertaken varied community roles, there was a lovely coherence to her voluntary work, saying: “The panel felt that Tessa is a vibrant person who inspires those around her and that should be congratulated.”

Steve Masters was nominated by David Marsh and Claire Willsher for his role as chairman of trustees for Eight Bells for Mental Health Newbury.

The panel said they were extremely impressed by Mr Masters’ work and how he had “revitalised the charity and taken it from strength to strength”.

They went on to say: “The commitment and dedication to helping other people was clear from the nominations received and the panel felt that Steve is indeed ‘one of life’s good guys’.”

The panel congratulated Mr Masters, who is also a Green Party district councillor, on his mammoth fundraising cycle ride across France and his more recent 10km run in the pouring rain to raise additional funds.

The 4th Thatcham Cubs were named Community Group of the Year.

The pack was nominated by Lucille Harrison from Swings & Smiles and was established in 2018 following requests from parents at the charity. 

The panel said it was extremely impressed by “the wonderful work carried out by the 4th Thatcham Cubs group and loved the strong sense of inclusion that the group allows children with special needs to take part in an activity that many children take for granted”.

They added that the “progressive and caring ethos of the group was inspirational and very special, given the small number of similar groups across the country.

“It was clear from the nomination that the group is greatly valued by both the children who participate and their families.”

The 4th Thatcham Scout Group runs the same activities as regular Cub packs and children work together and earn badges.

It also joins in larger events such as the town’s Remembrance parade, St George’s Day parade and the group Cub athletics competition.

West Berkshire Council chairman of Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury) said: “The Community Champion Awards are always a favourite duty for the elected chairman.

“This year, I have the honour of presenting the awards and the response and standard of the nominations has been truly impressive.

“I am delighted that we are able to recognise so many worthy people due to the fantastic response received for the awards.

“I would like to thank our judging panel of independent representatives and all this year’s nominators and nominees.

“It is very encouraging to hear about the contributions that West Berkshire residents and community groups are making in our community.

“They are playing an increasing role in giving something back to their communities and we are delighted to acknowledge their important contributions at the awards ceremony tonight.

Everyone is truly a worthy winner.”

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