Madena Hedley with some of the 3rd Newbiggin Scouts.Madena Hedley with some of the 3rd Newbiggin Scouts.
Madena Hedley with some of the 3rd Newbiggin Scouts.

Scout leader granted freedom of the town at Newbiggin Garden and Community Awards

Newbiggin scout leader Madena Hedley has been awarded the honorary freedom of the town in recognition of her service to young people in the area.

She has led the 3rd Newbiggin Scouts for over 54 years “with a passion for engaging and supporting young people,” and has had an “immeasurable” impact on the community.

The highest recognition that Newbiggin by the Sea Town Council bestows was presented to her at the Newbiggin Garden and Community Awards.

Madena, 72, said: “I had no idea they were giving me the award until the scouts walked in. I got a surprise to say the least.

“I find it very difficult because I do not think you need to be rewarded for doing something that you enjoy. It has always been such a pleasure.

“But it was nice once I got over the initial shock.”

Madena has seen scouting “massively” change and has no plans to stop, but is hoping to get some younger scout leaders on board.

She said: “At the moment I have got kids whose parents were actual scouts and cubs. That has happened for years, I am probably into three generations now.

“It is nice to have that continuity. You know that they must have enjoyed it because they sent their bairn. They have obviously had fun so they want their kids to have the same sort of fun.”

She added: “It is something that I have enjoyed doing all my life. I met two of the best friends I have ever had through scouting and I would not change it for the world.”

The awards night also saw the town’s sport champion award presented to 23-year-old boxer Owen Rees.

The “true inspiration to aspiring boxers” has competed across Europe and was selected for the Commonwealth Games, but was forced to withdraw due to an injury.

Tony Griffiths was presented with the art and culture award for his “outstanding commitment” to the Newbiggin Jayess Brass Band.

Community champion awards were handed out to Anne Main and Maria Scott for their “tireless efforts” fundraising for the RNLI, which have collected over £200,000.

Alan Keilty was also recognised as a community champion for his work on the town’s community garden, described as “a testament to the power of community spirit and the positive impact that one person can have.”

In the gardening section of the awards night Shelia Harrison won the secret garden award, and Angie Main and Team for Front Street won the community planting award.

The allotment award, judged by Newbiggin Allotment Holders Society, was given to Jim Kirk for the Woodhorn site and Thomas and Pauline Oliver for the Spital site.

Pam Jones, Billy and Sandra Brown, Jonathan and Ellen Murray Pym, and Fern Cape won the good garden award for their respective wards.

Matthew Stewart, Kay and John Dunn, Chris Llyod, Kevin and Barbara Carlyle, and Sylvia Priestley were all runners up in this category.

A spokesperson for the town council said: “Newbiggin Town Council would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended, supported, judged, and organised this event.

“Your contributions were invaluable and helped make this event a great success. We deeply appreciate your commitment to our community and your efforts to make Newbiggin a better place to live.”