Newbury Town Council Honours Unsung Heroes of the Community, April 2020

Newbury Town Council

This year’s Newbury Town Civic Awards presentation evening was postponed due to Coronavirus: however, this has not stopped the awards from being issued this year. The Civic Awards celebrates achievements, honours volunteers, and recognises the town’s unsung heroes who have made an exceptional difference in the community.

Given the high standard of nominations for the Newbury Town Civic Award, the Newbury Town Young Person’s Civic Award, the Newbury Town Business Civic Award and the Newbury Town Environmental Contribution Award, the judging panel believed that despite the current situation, it was still appropriate for judging to commence and for the awards to be issued.

The Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Elizabeth O’Keeffe, said, “It was quite a challenge for the panel to judge the awards online, but we did it. The number, variety and commitment to the community and good causes illustrated just what an incredible number of businesses, individuals and groups we have in Newbury.”

Jo Day, the Chairperson of the Town Council’s Civic Pride, Arts and Leisure Committee echoed, “It has been a privilege to be involved in the judging of this year’s Civic Awards. Newbury is very fortunate to have so many willing people to give their time and energy working for the community. We select one nomination in each category to be a winner, but each one is worthy of our appreciation and praise.”

Steve and Jan Pye were named as the winners of The Newbury Town Civic Award 2020. Steve and Jan retired from volunteering in January after a combined 46 years of service to Newbury Air Cadets. When their son joined Air Cadets, seeing the need for volunteer staff to help run the unit, especially those with a military background, Steve soon joined as an Adult Warrant Officer which he thoroughly enjoyed. His knowledge and experience of the armed services stood him in good stead to pass these onto the young people of Newbury, and the squadron benefited from his enthusiasm and dedication. It wasn’t long after this before Jan began volunteering her time, supporting marketing and recruitment to help grow the squadron, at one point to nearly 100 cadets. Over the many years, they have supported thousands of activities and events, hundreds of young people and have been leading figures in several areas. Both Steve and Jan’s roles have shifted over the years; both gaining qualifications, supporting camps and new initiatives including seeing the first ever Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award being awarded to a Newbury Cadet in 2017. Both Steve and Jan attended 2 nights a week for many years, their service has been exemplary and has had an impact on hundreds of young people from Newbury and the surrounding areas.

The winner of the Newbury TownBusiness Civic Award was Mathew Groves from Greggs, Northbrook Street. Mathew came to the aid of Newbury Soup Kitchen, and over the last 3 years has donated food and disposable cups and plates from his store to help support those in need. His team have been highlighted for their efforts in working closely with Newbury Soup Kitchen volunteers who come to pick up food from their store every week.

Mathew has shown that he takes the plight of the homeless and vulnerable in our community seriously and is always looking for ways to help support vulnerable people. He will sit with homeless people in doorways in the mornings for a quick chat and give them a coffee and something to eat from the Greggs store. He makes the effort to get to know people who are rough sleeping in the high street and will liaise with Newbury Soup Kitchen if a new face appears. Mathew does this to support his local community and will use his role at Greggs to support further. His nominator said that he should be very proud of his and his team’s achievements.

The Newbury Town Young Persons Civic Award recipient was Jacob Halling, aged 9. Jacob has been described by his nominator as “an amazing young boy” who has been raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Charity. He is described as someone with a huge heart and is passionate about raising money for MD research in support of his mum who suffers from muscular dystrophy. Jacob is conscious of efforts that need to be taken to minimise the negative impact on the environment; he did this by raising money for the charity by doing a 4 hour litter pick around the Greenham area, and taking part in his school’s effort to help the population of trout in the local waters. Jacob has done a remarkable amount of work for his age, on his own behalf using his own initiative and deserved to be recognised for the impact he is making to the local community.

And, finally, the winner of the Newbury Town Environmental Contribution Award was Marion Fenn. Marion has been an example to others, going along with nature and wasting as little as possible. She runs an allotment for school children, introducing them to the preparation of soil, growing organically, recycling newspaper to make paper pots for sowing seeds and how delicious fresh food is. Over the years, Marion has created nature areas at three schools, impacting on the children’s learning of the importance of the ecosystem. She has also run a parent and child group, cooking sessions with fresh food and previously ran a weekly gardening club for the elderly. She self-funds her environmental projects by selling home-grown plants, jams and pickles in recycled jars. Marion has helped hundreds of people learn how important it is to be environmentally aware and to do as much as we can, however small, to protect our planet.

The Mayor of Newbury, Councillor Elizabeth O’Keeffe congratulated all of the nominees for their outstanding achievements by letter. The award winners have been invited to collect their physical award from the Town Hall at an appropriate time.


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