Honouring the work of community stalwarts who give so much
Community champions were recognised for their hard work, determination and commitment at the Alnwick Town Mayor's Civic Award ceremony.
Twelve individuals and four teams were honoured at the prize-giving event, staged at the town’s St James’s URC Church Centre earlier this month.
The winners were nominated by Alnwick residents for their involvement, contribution and dedication to charity work, community participation or voluntary activities.
Alnwick Mayor Alan Symmonds said: “The people and teams who received awards make an enormous difference to the lives of many other people and the town of Alnwick.
“As Mayor, it always makes me proud of the town I live in when I read the nomination forms.
“It is important that as a town council we can recognise the people who go the extra mile for the town.
“I would like to add my support for all the nominations which were made and for those who received awards.
“A big thank you to all of them for all they do for the residents of Alnwick – their involvement, dedication and contribution to the town and its community are to be applauded.”
Each award winner was presented with a certificate with a citation and an Alnwick Town Council badge and pen.
The winners were as follows:
David Archer: Reverend David Archer has been a minister of Alnwick’s Baptist Church since 2003 and is dedicated to the community of Alnwick.
He has been instrumental in setting up many organisations, such as Christians Against Poverty; Mighty Oaks, the late-night pop-up coffee bar; and the Messy Church – where families with young children are encouraged to come along to play in a supportive atmosphere.
He regularly goes to organisations throughout the town as an unofficial support and he regularly visits Alnwick Infirmary to offer comfort and support and is the Police Chaplain.
David has also been involved in Contagious, the interdenominational Christian Youth Project which includes Mighty Oaks and Rock Solid.
He has also been a member of Alnwick MACPI (Multi Agency Crime Prevention Scheme) for more than 10 years.
On top of all this, he finds time to orchestrate weeding and litter picking at Green Batt Garden for Churches Together in Alnwick.
Lisa Bellamy: Lisa is chairman of the Bullfield Community Orchard and in this role undertakes gardening work as well as offering direction to the group, which is stewarding the orchard for decades to come.
This community orchard is a publicly-accessible green space offering free fruit to anybody who is involved in the project.
As well as offering fruit, the space is a wildlife habitat and a place for community activities and crafts.
Lisa is committed to the environment and is involved in Friends of the Earth.
She also helps to look after the planting at the Oaks roundabout and the herb planters outside the hospital.
Eileen Blakey: Over a period of many years, Eileen has worked unstintingly to help and improve Alnwick, from her work with Alnwick in Bloom and her time as a town councillor, to being awarded the honorary title of Alderman and being a former town Mayor.
Eileen has been a member of Alnwick in Bloom since the 1980s and has served in many roles, recently becoming chairman.
During this time, Alnwick in Bloom has gone from strength to strength and the town frequently receives Gold Awards in the Northumbria in Bloom competition.
As well as getting the town to look its best for the Northumbria in Bloom judging, Alnwick in Bloom organises a children’s painting competition and a residents’ garden competition each year.
Even as increasing ill health reduced her mobility, Eileen still continued as treasurer and helped newer committee members settle in.
Gordon Castle: Gordon has been a town councillor for 21 years and a county councillor for 15. Born and bred in Alnwick, he has dedicated his life to working for and promoting the town he loves.
He has been with and supported numerous projects within the town, including Alnwick Christmas Lights, Alnwick Youth Hostel, Alnwick Spring Show and the Bailiffgate Singers, to name but a few.
Paul Frater: Paul is social secretary for Alnwick Rugby Club and has helped raise £15,000 for local charities, all of which have a link to the rugby club.
These charities include Tuberous Sclerosis Association; RVI Children’s Outpatients; Parkinson’s; and Motor Neurone Disease, which has a special link to both the rugby club, through Robin Wilson, and the wider rugby community, through Doddie Weir.
James Matthewson: James gives a great deal of his time organising The Big Sing.
This very popular event held in the Market Place brings a lot of people together to enjoy this free, family-friendly Christmas event.
James has created an event which has become a firm favourite with many local people.
Vera Murphy: Until her resignation in November 2017, Vera played a significant role in the Citizens Advice Bureau in Northumberland.
First, when the CAB offices worked independently of each other, Vera was a trustee and then eventually chairman of the trustee board in Alnwick.
Here she worked closely with the manager and made a meaningful contribution to the day-to-day running of the bureau.
Vera supported the Alnwick CAB office by recruiting trustees and volunteers and directing policy. As a result, the bureau was able to deal successfully with a wide range of client concerns and demonstrate high satisfaction levels from clients.
When she saw that reduction in grants and income streams would result in severe financial pressures for all the Northumberland CABs, it was Vera who saw the need for amalgamation of the service and so the Northumberland CAB was born.
Lorna Stewart-Hook: Lorna is Alnwick born and bred. She is founder member and chairman of Northumberland Pride, a dynamic voluntary organisation set up to raise awareness of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) culture and heritage. Her vision – inclusion and community.
Lorna is committed to supporting the LGBT community and is the brainchild behind this year’s inaugural Northumberland Pride Festival in Alnwick.
She has created a whole series of events, from a LGBT service at St James’s Church to a quiz night and a 5km fun run.
Linda Thompson: Linda has been involved with Inner Wheel for many years, the last two serving as president of Alnwick Inner Wheel.
During that time, she has encouraged the club to get involved in many community events.
She has also worked hard to increase membership of Inner Wheel during her term in office and recruited five new members, as well as helping to raise thousands of pounds for good causes.
Linda has also helped out at Alnwick International Music Festival for many years, mostly recently in the kitchen.
Jayne Wright: Jayne is treasurer of Alnwick Cricket Club, a role she stepped into initially while her son was in the junior team, but a role which she still occupies today.
As a key member of the club, Jayne puts in much of her free time in performing this vital back-office job, without which the club would cease to function.
In 2016/17, Jayne was instrumental in Alnwick Cricket Club becoming a Community Amateur Sporting Club Limited Company which entailed not an insignificant amount of paperwork, as well as work on her behalf.
She became company secretary, meaning more work and more paperwork, including submission of the annual return to Companies House.
Jayne has also contributed each year to boost the club funds, partly by instigating more efficient recording processes, but also by organising an annual race night which is always the most successful fund-raising event of the year.
Max Young: Max, 15, has worked tirelessly to ensure that the heart defibrillation unit was placed in a prominent position at the Duchess’s Community High School.
He has also organised its security, checks its battery levels and its general health as well as raising awareness within the school of how to use the device.
He also ensures its availability for both community and public events and has organised first-aid events and training for staff.
He organised a non-school-uniform day which raised £800 and delivered assemblies to his peer group to advise what the money would be used for.
1801 RAF Air Cadets: The 1801 Squadron provides training and discipline to the young people of Alnwick and the surrounding area.
They encourage the cadets to be adventurous and promote an excellent community spirit.
The cadets themselves are outstanding members of the community and a fine example of today’s youth.
Alnwick Heritage Heroes Team: In 2017, in support of their on-going efforts to highlight heritage issues and possibilities, Alnwick Civic Society explored new ways to make a difference to the perception of and pride in Alnwick’s heritage.
The result was a new 40-page A4 publication which not only presents a new history of Alnwick, but features specially researched and written biographies of some of the town’s Heritage Heroes who, over the years, have made their own unique contributions to making our fine heritage.
Heritage Heroes was the result of an enormous amount of volunteer time, energy and commitment and is something the town should feel very proud of.
The high-quality publication is engaging and full of knowledge and enthusiasm, and, as a result, the community knows more about its town, and the sense of pride in its people and places shines through in the book.
Alnwick Spring Show Committee: The Alnwick Spring Show was born in 2007 following a suggestion from David Parker that Alnwick should have a spring flower show.
The previous show, which had been a summer show, had ended some years previously, so the idea was well received.
A show committee was formed to take the suggestion forward with the first shows being held at The Alnwick Garden.
With the show growing in size every year, the committee moved the show to the venue it still uses today, at Willowburn Sports Centre.
The Alnwick Spring Show is now well established on the national horticultural calendar and exhibitors and visitors come from all over the UK to attend the show, which has an excellent reputation.
Now in its 12th year, the Alnwick Spring Show is run by a dedicated team of volunteers.
The committee has regular meetings throughout the year to ensure that the show is well organised and that all costs are met.
The event is well supported by Alnwick Town Council, individuals and local businesses.
Neighbourhood Services Team: Over the years, Northumberland County Council’s Neighbourhood Services Team has served Alnwick with stalwart efficiency.
Their no-fuss, professional performance has carried our streets and open spaces through crises of flood, falling masonry, vandalism, litter and dilapidations, as well as handling the ever-running collections of waste bins.
Other activities they coordinate and undertake is a round of grass-cutting in Column Field and other open spaces and verges around the town. Almost invisibly, unless you’re a very early riser, Alnwick’s many floral displays are vetted and pampered, ensuring Alnwick maintains its Gold standard.