Celebrating Community Champions.

The winners of the 2019 West Berkshire Council’s Community Champion Awards have been announced at an evening awards ceremony at Shaw House on Monday 13 January 2020.

Launched in September 2014, the awards recognise the valuable contribution local residents make to West Berkshire and have grown over the years. There are now four awards categories which are: Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award; Volunteer of the Year; Community Group of the Year; and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Graham Pask, 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.”

Pat Eastop Junior Citizen Award

Joint winners Benjamin Kaesser and Finlay Beavan take home the prizes for the Pat Eastop Junior Citizen Award.

Benjamin Kaesser was nominated by Lucille Harrison of Swings and Smiles for his fantastic voluntary work with the young people who use Swings and Smiles. 

The judges were impressed with the dedication shown by Benjamin at the age of 14 and how much he is loved by the children who use the service. 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 Mrs Gemma Piper, Headteacher of Kennet School, for his wonderful contributions to his local community including a sponsored run to highlight the needs of the homeless.

The panel was 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.

Volunteer of the Year Award

The winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award went to Jana Little, who was nominated by no fewer than seven people. 

Jana was nominated for setting up and running a local Terracyle scheme which has not only diverted considerable waste from landfill but has raised money for a local charity.

The panel was 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. The panel members felt that Jana is an inspiration to others and this is shown in how effectively she has mobilised people to work together to stop waste going to landfill. 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.

Again the judges were extremely impressed with the standard of nominations and also presented Steve Masters and Tessa Brown a Highly Commended award each. 

Tessa Brown who was nominated by Maureen Martin for her voluntary work to benefit the staff, children and families of the Hungerford Nursery School Centre and Steve Masters who was nominated by David Marsh and Claire Willsher for his role as Chair of Trustees for Eight Bells for Mental Health Newbury.

The panel was extremely impressed by the eloquent appraisal of Tessa’s achievements. Her commitment and dedication to the community of Hungerford shone through in the nomination. The panel felt that whilst Tessa has undertaken varied community roles, there was a lovely coherence to her voluntary work. The panel felt that Tessa is a vibrant person who inspires those around her and that should be congratulated. 

The panel was extremely impressed by Steve’s work as Chair of Trustees for Eight Bells for Mental Health Newbury and how he has revitalised the charity and taken it from strength to strength. 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 Steve on his mammoth fundraising cycle ride across France and his more recent 10km run in the pouring rain to raise additional funds.

Community Group of the Year

The winner of the Community Group of the Year went to 4th Thatcham Cubs who were nominated by Lucille Harrison from Swings and Smiles in Thatcham.

The panel was extremely impressed by the wonderful work carried out by the 4thThatcham 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. The panel felt 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 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award went to the late Colleen Walker and Jane Fairchild, who is Colleen’s daughter.

The panel was extremely impressed by the dedication and commitment demonstrated by Colleen Walker 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 laterally, exclusively for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. It is hoped that this award celebrates the wonderful legacy left by Colleen and her amazing group of crafters.

Again, the panel was highly impressed with the nominations for this category, they chose to award two Commended and one Highly Commended from the nominations.

The two commended awards went to Mrs Wynne Frankum who was nominated by Bucklebury Parish Council for her commitment and service to the community of Bucklebury, and to Mr Robert Alderman who was nominated by Sarah Warburton on behalf of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust for an amazing 68 years of voluntary work with the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust.

The panel was extremely impressed by the eloquence of the nomination from Bucklebury Parish Council which provided an array of information about Wynne and her community work. The panel members remarked on the number of local community initiatives that Wynne has 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. 

The panel was extremely impressed by the fact that Robert has dedicated 68 years of active voluntary work to the Kennet and Avon Canal Association and that he joined 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. 

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

Marcus 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.

Marcus is the 4th generation (at least!) of church bell ringers in the Allum family and has been a bell ringer for over 48 years. Despite being in charge of St Mary’s Church Bell Tower in Beenham, Marcus is happiest spending his time at grass roots level, introducing and teaching new bell ringers. Marcus is also a very active officer of the Newbury branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers and as such 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 members felt that 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. 

Award winners’ details will also be recorded in an exclusive book called the “Roll of Civic Award” which will be available to view at the council’s offices in Market Street, Newbury.

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