West Berkshire Council

Council recognises Community Champions

The 2016 Community Champions have been announced by West Berkshire Council.

Community Champion Awards - Winners 2016

The winners of the West Berkshire Community Champion Awards 2016 came together yesterday (Thursday 8 December) to celebrate their amazing contributions to the district.

The community-focused achievements recognised this year include the outstanding support given to refugees in West Berkshire and abroad, work to protect communities from flooding and the provision of rugby and wheelchair basketball sports sessions.

Now in its third year in the current format, the Community Champion Awards recognise the Volunteer and Community Group of the year as well as outstanding contribution through the Lifetime Achievement Award. The winners were announced yesterday at a meeting of the Full Council. Each award winner was presented with a prize and a certificate and had their details recorded in an exclusive book called the "Roll of Civic Award." The book will be available for future generations to view at the Council Offices in Market Street, Newbury.

Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb said: 'This event is an excellent way to recognise the valuable contribution residents make to their communities. The standard of nominations was outstanding as usual so when the judges met, back in November, they all found the task of choosing the winners very challenging.'

Volunteer of the Year:

This year, there were two winners of the Volunteer of the Year award.

Robert Cox was nominated for his fantastic work as Chairman of the 'Juniors' section of Hungerford Rugby Club. In his eight years as Chairman, Rob has increased the membership from 30 to more than 400 young players, has played a significant part in the coaching team, has also overseen the extension of the club facilities.

Lindsey Middlemiss is founder of West Berks Action for Refugees. Lindsey has played a crucial role in enabling local residents to respond to the refugee crisis. She rallied support and organised a convoy of aid to Calais. She has also worked closely with West Berkshire Council to aid the resettlement of Syrian families in the area.

Community Group of the Year:

This was awarded to Thames Valley Kings, a wheelchair basketball club based in Berkshire. Founded in 2004, the group hosts regular training sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre in Thatcham and provides an opportunity for those with and without physical disabilities to participate in sport within a fun and friendly environment. The group were acknowledged for the support they offered in helping people through a potentially difficult time.

The Pang Valley Flood Forum was Highly Commended in the Community Group of the Year. The group, set up in January 2013, works with the Council, Environment Agency and Thames Water, speaking on behalf of local residents and working with those communities in the Pang Valley to reduce flood risk. The group is run entirely by volunteers from the ten parishes in the area and helps both individual homeowners as well as parish councils to achieve improvements in flood resilience.

Lifetime Achievement Award:

The Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Mary Bedwell from Holybrook for her hours of dedication to the Parish of Holybrook. Mary has served for many years as a Parish Councillor on Holybrook Parish Council and has been chairman for the past six. Mary was instrumental in the introduction of the Holybrook Family and Community Festival which has now been running for more than 10 years. Mary also runs an Over 60s Lunch Club and works with the Community Forum (a council-led group that looks at ways of enhancing the community). She also serves on the local GP's committee. Mary received three nominations, all of whom spoke of her professionalism, kindness and commitment to the local community.

A Highly Commended Award for Lifetime Achievement was also awarded to Jill Gent. Jill has been Chairman of Beedon Parish Council for 20 years. Jill has worked tirelessly to support the community as fund raiser and trustee of two village charities. She has also been involved in many village campaigns including road improvements, time capsule installation and the renovation of the village hall.

For more information about the winners and why they were nominated visit our website: www.westberks.gov.uk/communitychampion

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