West Berkshire Council is proud to announce the 2020 winning results of its popular Community Champion Awards following the submission of nearly 100 nominations from across the district. Individual volunteers and community groups have been crowned as Community Champion 2020 Winners, Highly Commended, and Commended, for their valuable contributions to improving the lives of people in West Berkshire.
For 2020, Volunteer Centre West Berkshire and Greenham Trust each supported an award; Volunteer of the Year (Non Covid) and Community Group of the Year (Covid) respectively.
As the planned in-person awards ceremony was unable to take place due to the national restrictions, the award winners were announced by video on Wednesday 20 January 2021:
This year four Covid Response specific awards were added to recognise the fantastic volunteer efforts throughout the pandemic and a new “Big Thank You Award” to show appreciation for individuals or groups who gave support to the community outside of the other Covid award categories, or for deserving individuals who would appreciate more low key recognition.
The awards, which have grown significantly since they first started in 2014, were judged by an independent panel of three and the winners have been announced as follows:
The Pat Eastop MBE Junior Citizen of the Year
- Winner – Louis De Chazal, 10, a child eco warrior and inspiration to his classmates, their parents and teachers – and everyone who is lucky enough to know him. He is a leading light on his school’s Eco Committee and has been the driving force behind various environmental awareness initiatives in the Hungerford area. His numerous activities have included putting up posters to encourage parents to turn off their engines when stationery, and lobbying to ensure electricity from renewable sources is used where ever possible. Thanks to his efforts, his primary school’s headteacher agreed for two trees to be planted in the school grounds.
- Highly Commended – Ava Oakes, 10, whose determination to fundraise to help others impressed the judges. Ava ran a marathon, 3 miles at a time, to raise money for Brain Tumour research – in memory of her Uncle. In total, Ava raised more than £3,000!
- Highly Commended – Abigail Miller, 16, who makes a huge commitment in supporting children with her gymnastics coaching – in particular they were impressed by the thought and care she demonstrated in learning a foreign language to put children at ease during their sessions. Although only 16 years old, Abigail is already a qualified coach. She is a clear role model for other young people.
Volunteer of the Year – supported by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire
- Winner – Lin Jenkins, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Reading and West Berkshire
- Highly Commended – Allan Brownridge, Newbury Cancer Care Volunteer Drivers
Community Group of the Year
- Winner – St Nic’s Gardening Group at the WBCH (West Berkshire Community Hospital)
- Highly Commended – Newbury Cancer Care Volunteer Drivers
- Highly Commended – West Berkshire Run Together Group
- Commended – Friends of the Earth West Berkshire
Lifetime Achievement of the Year
- Winner – Janet Hopkins who has been involved with Newbury District Swimming Club for over 60 years! She started as a successful competitive swimmer at National Level. When she hung up her swimming hat, Janet moved into coaching, officiating and chairing the Club. She was the lynchpin of the ‘Newbury and District Swimming Club,’ responsible for the Club’s teaching programme until she retired from her role in October 2020.
- Highly Commended – Judy McCulloch, who has dedicated her time to helping people who have been vulnerable at particular points in their lives, for 40 years. The panel felt that Judy’s enthusiasm and skill to drive projects forward have been of great benefit to the organisations she has been involved with – from the Keevil Unit at Speenhamland School – to her more recent role on the Board of Berkshire Healthwatch.
- Commended – Penny Locke, whose voluntary work from cub leader, PSA chair and school governor to founding Hungerford Food Festival and Penny Post spans more than 20 years. It is clear that Penny is very well regarded by her community and those she works with.
- Commended – Angela Money, a co-ordinator for West Berkshire Neighbourhood Watch for 23 years. She is dedicated to making West Berkshire a safer place, and has gone the extra mile to set up schemes to benefit residents and vulnerable people in the community. The panel extend their thanks and congratulate Angela for her commitment to her community.
Covid Response Awards
The Pat Eastop MBE Junior Citizen of the Year
- Winner – Poppy Morton, 13, who has overcome her own challenges and is now helping others. She was taught how to bake by her nurses whilst recovering from treatment for a brain tumour from which she has fully recovered. When the pandemic started, Poppy wanted to lift people’s spirits – so started baking treats to give to others in need. Not only did she deliver to people in Hamstead Marshall, she then heard about the weekly parcel deliveries made by Kintbury Volunteers Group, and increased her baking to include those families. Every cake, box of muffins, of biscuits she lovingly prepared had a label with “Love from Poppy” on it.
- Highly Commended – Lowri Thomas, 16, whose voluntary work to help others in the Shaw Community during the pandemic, is impressive. In spite of her young age, Lowri has a very strong community spirit and lots of enthusiasm to help others. This was highlighted by the fact she delivered essential items to vulnerable people during lockdown. A chat on the doorstep brought a much needed boost to the wellbeing of lonely residents.
Volunteer of the Year
- Joint winner – Claire Bird, a professional seamstress who threw her heart and soul into the production of scrubs and other items for the NHS – suspending her home business to run this project. To recruit volunteers and local support, Claire set up a Facebook page in April 2020 called “Birdhouse Scrub Makers in West Berks.” She built a network of more than 100 people who helped her, with 30 dedicated seamstresses.
- Joint winner – Shelley Bowdery, who started the Compton Volunteer Response from scratch to provide much needed support to vulnerable local residents throughout the pandemic. Shelley arranged to leaflet every house in the village to get private feedback on who was shielding, isolating, had disabilities or other needs and may have needed support during the lock-down. At the same time, she asked for volunteers – creating a team of more than ninety helpers! Shelley undertook strict data protection protocols right from the start to fully protect private information.
- Highly Commended – ‘a Samaritans volunteer’, with 25 years’ service. This unsung hero who preferred not be named, adapted to the challenges of the Covid pandemic by selling handmade masks to fundraise for the charity. It was clear from the nomination that they are very highly regarded by their colleagues and by the people they have supported over the years.
Community Group of the Year – supported by the Greenham Trust
- Winner – Loose Ends – Covid Food and Supplies Group
- Highly Commended – Joining Together
- Highly Commended – Hermitage Community Volunteer Group
Big Thank You Award
- Andy and Laura Allen
- Andy Murray
- Buddy Mashiur Rahman
- Helen Noll
- Jane Johnstone
- Joe Mills
- Karen De Monte
- Kathryn Dundas
- Liz Chaplin
- Malcolm Hannington
- Marion Fenn
- Mick Dowdeswell
- Rodie Hill
- Roz Boadle
- Sara Disson
- Steve Masters
- Sue Bennett
- Zena Buck
- Eight Bells for Mental Health
- Falkland Surgery
- Newbury Community Resource Centre
- Volunteer Chieveley
- Volunteer Centre West Berkshire
- West Berkshire Christmas pop up
- Westfields Volunteers
“Once again we had a tremendous response from the public,” said Councillor Graham Pask, “with just under 100 nominations including those nominated for the new ‘Big Thank You Award’ and the Covid response categories. It is heart-warming to know that so many of our neighbours are willing to give their time and energy to support others – particularly during such challenging times. I am delighted that we are able to recognise so many worthy people.
“The judging panel of three independent representatives had a particularly difficult task this year given the high quality of the nominations put forward. We want to congratulate everyone who was nominated – not just the winners. They are all Champions.”
In keeping with previous years’ award announcements, the Council would have presented awards to winners this month at a ceremony at Shaw House. However, owing to the current Covid-19 restrictions the certificates and prizes are instead being posted out to all recipients. The Council hopes to be able to celebrate with the winners later in 2021, circumstances permitting. In the meantime, the Council wishes to convey its many congratulations to every individual and group nominated.
Full information about the winners and nominations is available on the Council’s website: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/awardwinners.. , ,,,