THOSE who make the district a better place to live have been honoured.
Dedicated volunteers were recognised for their outstanding and selfless services to the community at the joint Royal Leamington Spa Rotary Club and The Kingsley School Community Awards.
The second joint awards between Rotarians and the school were selected from nominations made by rotary club members and the school community to identify the most deserving ‘unsung heroes’ who give their time and energies in the wide range of voluntary community activities in the area.
* Richard Brooks – for more than three decades commitment to the Citizens Advice charity in Warwickshire, which provides free and confidential advice on a wide range of issues. A trading standards officer by profession, Richard found himself in frequent contact with Citizens Advice and this has prompted a long association since he joined the committee of Warwick District Citizens Advice Bureau in the 1980s to his present-day role as a director of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.
* Delia Button – for her inspiring work in organising events and raising money for numerous charities over several decades. In various roles – trustee, committee member, volunteer and founder – Delia has been involved with Castel Froma and Helen Ley homes, the Samaritans, Talking Newspapers, Contact the Elderly and Silverline, the Rufus’ Friends Fund, Babybreathe and more, as well as finding time to hold an annual charity fair at her house, now in its 25th year.
* Andy Gotts – for his commitment and involvement with Leamington Shopmobility Ltd, a charity funded by the Leamington Town Council, although he has a substantial track record of many years of other volunteering. As treasurer and trustee of Shopmobility he has had a central role in re-launching the service, which provides wheelchairs and scooters for hire from the Royal Priors.
* Chris Johnson – for his inspiring and pioneering vision in founding Leamington Night Shelter in 2008 and running it with co-founder Margaret Moore. From modest beginnings the Night Shelter, now based at Radford Road Church, provides a secure and welcoming refuge to those in desperate need where beds, food and toiletries are provided free of charge. This all year round facility helps people get back on their feet.
* Sue Oldham – for her work on the “Pathway” project at St Mary’s Church. Drawing on her personal experience Sue has committed herself to Pathway and its objective of helping people who have drug addiction and alcoholism together with those suffering from mental health issues, whose lives are chaotic, or who are ex-offenders, through a programme of regular mentoring and other support.
* Margaret Batten – for raising money for the Royal British Legion for 51 years. It all began when she started a shop in Coventry where she sold poppies and other items in order to raise funds. Margaret is also instrumental in finding and managing volunteers to assist with fund-raising. Even now in her 80s she still visits shops, schools and businesses in the Coventry area so that she can continue to raise funds for and awareness of the work of the Royal British Legion.
* Steve Atherton – for his 56th birthday he set himself 56 challenges. He chose to do this to raise awareness of the growing number of homeless people in Leamington. He is raising funds for the local homeless charity Helping Hands based and for Shelter. Some of his challenges so far have included running with 56 different people throughout the year, driving a tank, and having his whole body waxed.
* Ellie Tait – In the summer of 2016 the Kingsley sixth-former started volunteer work at Scope in Leamington to fulfil the requirement of her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. Although she was only required to do this for three months, Ellie has continued this work and 18 months later still volunteers regularly.
* Cathy Edwards and Debbie Brown – set up a dementia friendly café in Kenilworth in 2014 which they named the Little Ray of Sunshine Café. In previous years both Cathy and Debbie cared for parents who suffered with dementia and it was having this first-hand experience of how isolating the experience was for them that led them to set up the café. This is a safe place to meet other people, both patients and carers who are dealing with dementia.
* Sue Mountford and Penny Sharples – have jointly run the Girl Guide group based in Dale Street in Leamington for many years.
They have organised many activities such as camping, attending Warwick University Christmas lectures, and raising funds for charities by filling shoe boxes and carol singing. Sue recently announced her retirement from Guiding after 22 years at the helm. Penny is currently carrying on alone while seeking a new volunteer.