South Gloucestershire Council Chair’s Community Awards

Nearly thirty unsung heroes and their families attended the Chair’s Community Awards at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s WISE Campus on Thursday 16 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, Cllr Erica Williams attended along with the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire Dame Janet Trotter and Vice Lord Lieutenant Robert Bernays, Group Chief Executive & Executive Principal of South Gloucestershire & Stroud College Kevin Hamblin and Principal and Deputy Chief 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 Erica 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.

Diya Barot and George Beaven became anti-hate crime ambassadors two years ago when Southern Brooks piloted a project at Abbeywood Community School. Since then, they have used their training to mentor victims and perpetrators of hate incidents. Diya and George also volunteer at a local primary school after school club.

Chair of South Gloucestershire Council Cllr Erica 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.”

Bradley Stoke’s own Andy Ward was one recipient of a Community Ward for his many volunteering roles but in particular with the Splatts Abbey Wood and the Bradley Stoke Radio.  Splatts Abbey Wood chairman David Bell told us “Andy is the Woodlands Secretary, and is a valuable and hardworking volunteer vital to its ongoing success. His contribution to his community is immense and he deserves the recognition he has received.”

Andy told us:  “A massive thank you to all those who nominated me.  I am privileged and honoured to volunteer as part of several lovely teams and community groups and would like to think this award reflects upon all those people it has  been my pleasure to work with on a voluntary basis. However, can I just say I am more than a little bit chuffed to receive this award!”

Another well-deserved winner on the night was Brian Hewitt MBE from Stoke Gifford for his Royal British Legion service: sixty five years as a legion member, and thirty years working with the Stoke Gifford RBL.

Brian is a past Branch Chairman and the current Branch President, and RBL Gloucestershire County Chairman. Stoke Gifford RBL Branch Vice Chairman Terry Webber said – “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 RBL County level and at Branch level, where he now holds the office of President and I cannot think of anyone who deserves the position more”

Brian told Bradley Stoke Matters: “I like helping people and I am grateful to the Legion for enabling me to put a smile back onto hundreds of faces through my Welfare work over the last 30 years since moving to Stoke Gifford, into our tenth and last home in a marriage of 56 years.  

“My wife Julie often complained about “your Legion”, as she called it.  I do miss her ‘nagging’, but she was always behind me, fully supportive and ready to sort out a medical problem in the Team and woe-be-tide anyone who made a mistake counting her hated 5p.coins!!  I’ve only been a Member for 65 years, yet I still feel about 56!”

Abbeywood school students, Diya Barot and George Beaven, won a South Gloucestershire Chair’s Award for youth volunteering, as well as the Lieutenants Award at a special ceremony.  Diya and George became anti-hate crime ambassadors two years ago when Community Development charity, Southern Brooks Community Partnerships, tested a project at Abbeywood Community School. Since then, Diya and George used their training to mentor the victims and perpetrators of hate crime. They also volunteer at a local primary school after-school club.

Southern Brooks was thrilled Diya and George achieved their awards from the many nominations. The award recognised the positive change they made at Abbeywood School after successfully completing their anti-hate crime ambassadors training.

Julie Close, Director at Southern Brooks, says “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.”

David Bell joined Southern Brooks as a Trustee in 2008, and is now their Vice Chairman. David achieved the individual award for volunteering. He says “It’s very humbling to achieve a South Gloucestershire Council Chair’s Award 2017, especially when I heard 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.”

Principal and Deputy Chief, Sara-Jane Watkins said: “SGS College is delighted to support the Chair’s Community Awards. It is important to acknowledge the people of South Gloucestershire that selflessly enrich our community.” 

The evening also saw students from the Level 3 Musical Theatre Year 2 group, based at WISE campus of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, perform some of their latest productions.

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