South Gloucestershire honours unsung heroes

Photo of some of the winners of the 2017 Chair’s Community Awards.

Volunteers from Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford and Filton among those honoured at annual awards ceremony.

Nearly thirty unsung heroes and their families attended the Chair’s Community Awards at South Gloucestershire and Stroud (SGS) College’s WISE Campus on Thursday 16th March.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution local unpaid volunteers make to life in South Gloucestershire. These people give up their time freely to help others and bring our communities together, and were rewarded for their efforts at the special ceremony.

Chair of South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) Cllr Erica Williams attended, along with the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Dame Janet Trotter, Vice Lord Lieutenant Robert Bernays, Group Chief Executive & Executive Principal of SGS College Kevin Hamblin and Principal and Deputy Chief of SGS College Sara-Jane Watkins.

Throughout the evening, award winners from across South Gloucestershire, and from a wide variety of backgrounds, were presented with their certificates by Cllr Williams and Sara-Jane Watkins. The final round was the Lord Lieutenant’s Special Award, which saw Dame Janet Trotter and Robert Bernays present £100 to Diya Barot and George Beaven for their valued services as mentors and anti-hate crime ambassadors in South Gloucestershire.

Cllr Williams said:

“I have been consistently amazed and inspired by the number of people from across our area who dedicate so much of their precious time in a voluntary capacity. These awards are a small way of recognising the effort and tireless service which volunteers provide for their local communities, and to say thank you to just some of them for continuing to make South Gloucestershire a great place to live and work.”

“Choosing from the nominations for this event has been a heart-warming and yet difficult task. All the nominees were clearly highly respected and admired for their commitment and hard work. It has been humbling to read all of the citations and I consider it to be one of the highlights of my role to be able to honour our award winners.”

The annual awards event is sponsored by SGS College. The evening also saw students from the Level 3 Musical Theatre Year 2 group, based at WISE campus of SGS College, perform some of their latest productions.

Local award winners

All photos show the winner(s) receiving their award(s) from Cllr Erica Williams (on the left) and Sara-Jane Watkins (on the right).

Photo of Andy Ward receiving his award.

Andy Ward: Community Award winner

Andy is involved in many volunteer groups. His skills, knowledge and expertise have helped the Splatts Abbey Wood Conservation Group continue to look after this important historic woodland. He is also an active member of Bradley Stoke Radio, a not for profit, community station run by volunteers. Always ready to support a good cause, the station, with Andy at the helm, champions many charities, such as the Heartful Dodgers, for whom he also volunteers. He is extremely hardworking, passionate about everything he undertakes and his vision, enthusiasm and ability to problem solve effectively is infectious.

Photo of Brian Hewitt MBE receiving his award.

Brian Hewitt MBE: Community Award winner

Brian has been volunteering for the Royal British Legion for an astonishing 65 years and has been an outstanding member of the Stoke Gifford branch since moving to South Gloucestershire 30 years ago. He has been helpful and encouraging to every new member and where necessary taught his successors the ropes as he has moved on to new positions within the branch. Brian arranges for a bugler to sound the Last Post on 11th November each year at Bristol Parkway Station, which all the staff and customers find very moving. Brian is a full of life character and nothing is too much trouble for him.

Stoke Gifford Royal British Legion branch vice chairman Terry Webber commented: “I’ve known Brian for more than 20 years and in all that time he has always been in a position to help the community – as a councillor or as a member of the Royal British Legion. He has been in the top position at county level and also at branch level, where he now holds the office of president. I cannot think of anyone who deserves the award more.”

Photo of David Bell receiving his award.

David Bell: Community Award winner

David joined the Southern Brooks Community Partnerships (SBCP)board of trustees nine years ago. He has been a great ambassador of the organisation within Filton, voicing the needs of local residents. As a Filton resident himself, David knows what life is like for people in the area and has made sure that SBCP is aware of the changing needs of people in the town. As one of three long standing trustees, David has provided stability to the organisation. His guidance and thoughtfulness have enabled SBCP to respond to changes, embrace challenges and continue to be the successful community anchor organisation it is.

David commented: “It’s very humbling to achieve this award, especially when I hear about the marvellous work that the other winners have done to achieve their awards. The award is a tribute to great work done in the community by Southern Brooks Community Partnerships, by its staff and volunteers.”

Photo of Diya Barot and George Beaven receiving their awards.

Diya Barot and George Beavan: Young Persons Community Award winners

These two young people are shining stars. Diya and George signed up to become Anti Hate Crime Ambassadors two years ago when Southern Brooks Community Partnerships (SBCP) piloted a project at Abbeywood Community School in Stoke Gifford. They’ve used their training to mentor students who have been either the victim or the perpetrator of hate incidents. Diya and George also volunteer at a local primary school’s after school club, where they have proved consistent and reliable in their support and enabled the children there to benefit from the exposure to a wider range of topics than they might otherwise experience.

After the success at Abbeywood, SBCP secured further funding from the Home Office to support more schools across Kingswood, Filton and Patchway. Julie Close, director at SBCP, commented: “Our hate crime ambassadors programme teaches young people to recognise and respond appropriately to a hate crime incident. It gives them the skills they need for life, which they can share with their peers, family, friends and future work colleagues.”

Photo of Chris and Jenny Brooker receiving the award.

Chris and Jenny Brooker, representing Freewheelers EVS: Group Award winner

Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service is a registered charity that provides a free out-of-hours motorcycle courier service to hospitals in the South West. They transport blood, pathology and microbiology specimens, patient notes, x-rays, breast milk, medication and other medical supplies. This lifesaving service is funded entirely by public donation and sponsorship; everyone involved in Freewheelers is a volunteer. Feedback from doctors and nurses at the hospitals is that this service has saved many patients’ lives.

Photo of Jade Matthews receiving her award.

Jade Matthews: Young Persons Award winner

Jade has been volunteering at Bradley Stoke based South West Winterguard Academy since she was just 12 years old. Now 17, Jade has become an integral part of the team and an inspiration to many children who attend the dance practice sessions. Jade dedicates her spare time to leading and motivating the younger members to be the best they can be whilst working as a team. Jade is a very caring individual who encourages, motivates and helps all the children to feel at ease. She has a great relationship with the members who all look up to, and respect her greatly.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 18, 19 & 20). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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