West Berkshire Council's Community Champion Awards 2016 December 2016

This month we announced our Community Champions for 2016. It's our opportunity to say thank you to those people who have made a special contribution to West Berkshire over the past year. Across the district people in our communities go the extra mile to make a difference to the lives of others through charity, sport, fundraising, public service and in many other ways as well. We asked our residents to nominate pople they think worthy of being our Volunteer of the Year, Group of the Year or deserving of our Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nominations were considered by a judging panel chaired by the Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Chairman Quentin Webb. At the awards ceremony he said that:

"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."

Congratulations to all our winners - find out who won and what they did which made them particularly special.

Volunteer of the Year was awarded jointly to Robert Cox and Lindsey Middlemiss.

Robert Cox was nominated for his fantastic work as Chairman of the ‘Juniors’ section of the 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.

Robert Cox receives his award from Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

Lindsey Middlemiss, the other joint winner of Volunteer of the Year, is founder of West Berkshire 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.

Lindsey Middlemiss receives her award from Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

Our Community Group of the Year was 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.

Thames Valley Kings receive their award from Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

Competition in Community Group of the Year was tough and the Pang Valley Flood Forum was Highly Commended. 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.

The Pang Valley Flood Forum is presented with a Highly Commended award from Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

Our 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 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.

Mary Bedwell, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, is presented with flowers and a certificate from Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

We felt that another nominee, Jill Gent, deserved to be Highly Commended for Lifetime Achievement . 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.

Jill Gent is presented with her award by the Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Quentin Webb.

Thank you to Robert, Lindsey, Mary and Jill, the Thames Valley Kings and the Pang Valley Flood Forum - and indeed all our nominees - for the contribution they have made to our communities this year.


Photos: West Berkshire Council

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