The Mayor of Alnwick Alan Symmonds has spoken of his admiration for the people who go that extra mile for their town.
He was speaking ahead of the annual Mayor’s Civic Awards ceremony at the St James’ Centre, Pottergate, last Wednesday night.
The residents of Alnwick were requested to nominate their community’s unsung heroes for special recognition with a civic award.
“I was going to say how pleased I was to be here but I’m more than pleased, I’m proud to be here tonight,” he said. “I’m proud of the people who made nominations; I’m proud to be Mayor of Alnwick and have so many people who care about our town; I’m proud to hear so many inspiring stories about some truly remarkable people; but most of all, I’m proud of the people receiving awards.
“The people receiving the awards this evening all make their contribution quietly and make an enormous difference to the lives of many other people and the town of Alnwick.”
This year, there were seven individual award winners, two of which were youth awards, and seven group winners. Here is what Coun Symmonds said about each winner.
Jack is an outstanding member of the community and school. Since September, Jack has been involved in the lighting, sound and general set-up at the Alnwick Playhouse for 1984, Autumn Takeover, Community Pantomime as well as many musical performance including Fame, Evita and a band night and charity fashion show at the school. All this alongside studying for this GCSEs.
Citation: For his outstanding member of his local community, including the Alnwick Playhouse and school, Jack Carrigan receives his Youth Civic Award.
Edris is a young man who manages to balance his academic work, sports and social life with extreme grace. To say that he has been an outstanding head boy at the Duchess’s Community High School does not do him justice. During his time there, he has been a most excellent example to the rest of the school and to the wider community. In addition, through his charity work linked with the Rotary Club he has raised money for a school in Sri Lanka and collected clothes for children in Chernobyl, while raising awareness of these issues in school.
Citation: For his charity work supporting schools and children in Sri Lanka and Chernobyl and raising awareness of the issues, Edris Ramezanpour receives a Youth Civic Award.
While most of you will know Heather as a county councillor, she was also district councillor for many years and was leader of Alnwick District Council.
Heather has helped a huge number of people with problems, particularly housing, most of which no one ever hears about because of confidentiality.
She has been a supporter of numerous local organisations including the town’s schools, Gallery Youth and Alnwick Development Trust with the conversion of the old social services offices into a youth hostel, and the Playhouse development.
Citation: For her tireless support of Alnwick through her many years as a district councillor and as a valedictory reward for her dedication, Heather Cairns receives a Civic Award.
Hannah runs Community NE66 at Alnwick Community Centre. She works to support children, teenagers and families everyday, often working long days and extra days without recognition. She helps open opportunities for children and teenagers, offers playgroups, workshops, youth groups and outings giving the people she works with an opportunity to experience new things, see and understand more of the world that is otherwise closed to them. Hannah seeks extra funding to provide as many facilities as possible, and has been very successful in this endeavour. She also offers emergency help in all sorts of situations including being a bridge between families and the food bank and healthcare providers.
Citation: For going the extra mile to provide support to individuals and her drive and dedication mentoring young people experiencing trauma, Hannah Moeini receives a Civic Award.
It is very difficult to contain Ken’s contribution to the community within a short citation as there is much to celebrate. Firstly, Ken has served with distinction on Alnwick Town Council from April 2002 until his retirement in May this year. Ken also served as Mayor in 2006/07 and represented the town council on the Community Safety Hub (CoSH). At one time, he chaired the cemetery sub-committee and after handing this on he used his contacts to provide over 1,000 trees that define the cemetery boundaries. Ken is also honoured for his work as a Rotarian. He is active in all fund-raising initiatives, including those that have been off the radar. He is the one who stood up to his withers in the pant outside Turnbulls both cleaning out the foul sludge and collecting the money which then had to be deep cleaned. He is the one who stood in the cold at car boot sales at the Post Office yard and Seahouses. He well deserved the honour of being three times president of the Rotary Club of Alnwick, being made a Paul Harris Fellow – the highest Rotarian honour.
Citation: For his work as a Rotarian, fund-raising initiatives, support of his local community and his general can do attitude, Ken Moore receives a Civic Award.
Despite having a particularly difficult year herself, Christine has formed a walking group specifically to help people suffering from anxiety and mild depression. She understands full well the benefits of being out in the fresh air and being able to walk and talk. Christine takes people out and about every Friday free of charge.
It is clear to see the benefits all the people who take part get from this.
Citation: For her dedication, community participation and involvement helping people with mental illness, depression and low self-esteem, Christine Smith receives a Civic Award.
Stephen deserves recognition because he has saved hundreds of lives. Lives that would have otherwise been ended by lethal injection at the vets. No other sanctuary or organisation unconditionally accepts dogs that have been abused, mistreated, neglected or abandoned.
Now in its 11th year, Stephen’s charity SHAK has grown to care for around 80 dogs at any time.
He is incredibly dedicated to the work of SHAK, being on call 24/7 365 days a year.
Dog is supposed to be man’s best friend, well Stephen is undoubtedly the best friend to all the dogs he has saved.
Citation: For his on-going dedication and energy and his tireless commitment to supporting and caring for animals in distress, Steven Wylie receives a Civic Award.
ALN VALLEY RAILWAY VOLUNTEERS
The Aln Valley Railway project is an ambitious plan to reopen the branch line from Alnmouth to Alnwick and, after 15 years in the making, it was officially opened in 2013. A brand new railway station and visitor centre now exist on the outskirts of Alnwick from where the railway will follow the original trackbed all the way to Alnmouth Station. The Aln Valley Railway is built, operated and run entirely by volunteers who cover a range of roles from administrative staff to hosts, guards and even train drivers. Some are people with building, track-laying, gardening and engineering experience and others are just willing to pitch in where needed.
Citation: For their tireless efforts in conservation and restoration and for helping to maintain Alnwick as a key tourist destination, Aln Valley Railway Volunteers receive a Civic Award.
ALNWICK LADIES LIFEBOAT LUNCHEON CLUB
The Alnwick Ladies Lifeboat Luncheon Club has been running for more than 15 years. Originally set up to be just a luncheon club it has, over the years, been encouraged to raise money and set themselves the target of raising £1,000 a year. They raise that amount and more each year by collecting subscriptions, money for meals and fundraising. Their fundraising takes many forms and includes coffee mornings, sponsored walks. This year, they have been filling Smarties tubes with money and will have a table in the Northumberland Hall selling cakes at the Lions charity do in October/November.
Citation: For their continued fund raising efforts to support the work of the local lifeboat services, Alnwick Ladies Lifeboat Luncheon Club receives a Civic Award.
ALNWICK TALKING NEWSPAPER VOLUNTEERS
Alnwick Talking newspaper volunteers have been providing a service since 1981. They provide news items from the Northumberland Gazette on a fortnightly basis to visually impaired people. A team of volunteers get together on Thursdays and read articles from the Gazette which feature interesting stories in and around Alnwick. As some of their customers live further afield they try to ensure that any relevant local stories are also recorded. The service was originally provided on cassette tape the stories are now provided on a memory stick. The importance of what they do cannot be underestimated and the people they support welcome this valuable service.
Citation: For their dedication to providing a local communication service to those with sight loss in and imaginative, comprehensive and friendly way, Alnwick Talking Newspaper volunteers receive a Civic Award.
BAILIFFGATE MUSEUM VOLUNTEERS
Bailiffgate volunteers cherish and showcase the rich heritage of the town. The museum provides a strong community hub, hosting local groups, such as Museum Tots, and activities including crafts, history, poetry and creative writing and has the best art gallery space in the district. There are bespoke activities for schools, care homes and youth groups. Thousands of tourists and many more will visit the museum this year. Almost 2,000 saw the amazing Harry Potter exhibition last month alone. Bailiffgate’s volunteers create a small gem, where something is always happening, seven days a week, for most of the year.
Citation: For showcasing the rich heritage of Alnwick, providing a strong community hub and making the town a richer place for both locals and visitors, Bailiffgate Museum volunteers receive a Civic Award.
HOSPICECARE’s VOLUNTEER TEAM
HospiceCare North Northumberland’s volunteer team provides a valuable service to those facing life-limiting illnesses, together with their families and carers. The Hospice could not operate without the support of their team of fantastic volunteers, who contribute to the effective running of the of the charity in all areas of activity, from manning the reception desk, to helping with fundraising activities, to providing bereavement support to patients. Collectively, their efforts save the Hospice well over £100,000 a year. It is impossible to single out any individual so the whole team is nominated for their dedication and commitment to the charity’s cause.
Citation: For helping support those who face life-limiting illnesses, including fundraising and bereavement support, HospiceCare’s volunteer team receives a Civic Award.
Lionheart Radio is a community radio station based in Alnwick which was 10 years old in April this year. Your Say, Your Play, Your Community is their motto which is a very true saying. They provide the local community (Alnwick and surrounding towns and villages) with its own radio station – dedicated to providing entertainment and services to the community. All their programmes are produced by local volunteers, who give up their time to prepare and present programmes, conduct interviews as well as producing wide-ranging content for their website.
Citation: For continuing to provide a valuable community facility and providing opportunities for young people to develop skills, Lionheart Radio receives a Civic Award.
The Northumberland Gazette is the local newspaper of Alnwick and its importance of making the community aware of local issues cannot be understated. It is the hub of community news and engagement and presents the wide range of issues that affect the people of Alnwick which range from tourism, visitor attractions, wealthy landowners, feudalism, poverty, unemployment or lack of opportunity. They aim to report, in a balanced way, all the coinciding and conflicting viewpoints that need to be represented. For smaller newspapers, the issue of survival is one that reoccurs and we are grateful that Alnwick retains a local newspaper of such standing, having had a newspaper since 1854 when William Davison first published the Alnwick Mercury.
Citation: For being a community hub and providing local news which reflects the many issues and influences affecting the people of Alnwick, the Northumberland Gazette receives a Civic Award.