Community Awards Winners for 2015.

John Stewart, our Chairman, announced the winners for the 2015 Chairman's Community Awards on, Wednesday 20 January, at an awards ceremony held in One Coleman Street, London.

This year we had the highest ever number of finalists included employees from the UK and USA. Over 6,500 votes were cast.

Sara Heald, Head of Community Investment said “This is the last year for our current chairman will host these awards as he retires in June. We have been very lucky to have such a passionate, inspiring and enthusiastic gentleman to present these awards. He has an appreciation of our employees and their work in their communities. He understands directly how and why our people do these amazing things. Again this year, our employees continue to amaze us with their achievements and their generosity to others. We are truly blessed to have such people working by our sides and inspiring others to join them. Thank you to everyone who nominated your colleagues and to everyone who voted for the finalists.”


Charity Champions – Vivienne Russell

Macmillan Cancer Support

In September 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had emergency surgery for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I was off work for six months and I became very aware how lucky I was to have such a fabulous supportive family, friends & colleagues. Since my diagnosis I have been involved with other cancer sufferers who have had to take on this illness and have no-one to turn to for support.

In September 2015 I opened the doors to my home for my family, friends and colleagues and hosted a coffee morning for MacMillan Cancer Support. Approximately 100 people attended throughout the day with donations of cakes, some baked some bought as well as competitions. I’d been given over 35 raffle prizes and I raised a total of £2032.05. It was such a successful day and I’ve pledged that I will continue with this event every year.

Macmillan as well as other breast cancer charities including Marie Curie as constantly inventing events to encourage people who have been touched by cancer (and there’s not many people who can say they haven’t) to find something that they enjoy for a good cause.

I still have further operations to go through but I have been lucky enough to survive which is a reason to celebrate. Raising money for this charity just puts everything into perspective as I am still able to give.

Charity Fundraiser – Elizabeth Nicholls

Bone Cancer Research & Weston Hospicecare

I became involed with Weston Hopiscecare as its a very local charity servicing WSM. I became involved in Bone Cancer Research Trust as my daughter’s friend died from Bone Cancer.

I take part in an annual cross country challenge as a team from Weston AC running across the Mendips which raises in excess of 50k annually to keep the hospice going. I also ran the Brighton Marathon last year in aid of them raising £1000.

I have completed the Snowdonia Marathon this year in memory of Mary Collard for BCRT. Mary is the daughter of our friend and was also a member of my sons golf academy. She was a promising sports women and died age 12 from an osteosarcoma. Her parents have worked tirelessly over the last 3 years raising over 200k and are trying to promote early diagnosis at local GP surgeries.

Running for charity fundraising has provided me with an opportunity to get fit, release stress and gain confidence. It's also such a good way to raise awareness and sponsorship and to be used for a really worthwhile purpose.

Community Spirit – Joni Stout

Serve KC Gillis Centre

I volunteer mainly with a large, local volunteer group called Serve KC. My main focus within the group is Gillis. I joined the group in March 2015 and was asked to be on the Executive Board in the August.

Our group has volunteered in the Gillis urban garden (once-twice per month since March 2015), volunteered at their annual charity golf tournament, helped with their annual carnival and trunk or treat event. I have participated in many Serve KC events including cooking and serving dinners at Ronald McDonald house, completed a workday at Habitat for Humanity, and packed and moved a thrift store.

Serve KC is a local seed saving non-profit that teaches see saving classes, organises local seed and plant exchanges and communicated valuable information regarding saving seeds for future generations.

I have also organised volunteers for, the KC Zoo Run, I set up and cleaned up at the AIDS walk, Good Samaritan Church Thanksgiving Meal, and decorating meals on wheels lunch bags for Johnson County meals on wheels.

My passion is volunteering to help people and animals.

Protecting the environment – Claire Hiles

Helping Rhinos

I’ve always had a passion for African wildlife since I was a young girl; safari holidays to Kenya made me fall in love with Africa and its wildlife more so. In September of 2011 I travelled to South Africa to volunteer on a game reserve and take part in rhino relocation.

I spent time with a 4 year old sub-adult male white rhino in the African bush. Seeing everything he had to go through (driven away from his Mother by a chopper, darted, interfered with by us humans, endured a 2 hour journey to a reserve which was alien to him) was heart-breaking.

This was necessary though to keep him safe and try to avoid the hands of poachers. Rhino poaching has increased by 7700% in the last 6 years. In 2007 13 were poached for their horn, 668 in 2012, 1004 last year and over 1200 in 2014 at a rate of 1 poached every 7.5 hours. Rhino horn is worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market and the demand isn’t slowing down.

A year after the relocation I received devastating news than another rhino from the same reserve had succumbed to poachers, I was determined to do something to slow the demand down and raise awareness of this barbaric act of animal cruelty. I was put in touch with Simon Jones, founder of Helping Rhinos, a not for profit charity in only its second year and I’ve been volunteering every day ever since.

My role within the charity is Operations Manager and this involves a wide range of responsibilities.

Every day before work I research the latest news involving rhinos and poaching and post on Social Media. I have hosted interactive sessions when Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans or Sir David Attenborough’s life story air on TV. I interact with followers and answer factual questions to continue raising awareness.

I decided to spend my birthday in South Africa earlier this year, but the day before I received the devastating news that the rhino I’d relocated and spent time with had been poached. I spent my birthday in the middle of the bush, over 40 degree heat watching his autopsy. It’s a birthday I’ll never forget for all the wrong reasons!

Helping Hands – Alexandra Miles

Outward (hackney Befriending service)

I wanted to get involved with some volunteer work in my local area, preferably with the elderly. The Hackney befriending service had just been launched and was looking for volunteers. I went to a few training sessions and haven’t looked back since!

Every week I visit two old ladies who live in my local area; May still lives in her own home but was becoming increasingly isolated and lonely after her husband passed away last year. I visit her for 2 hours each Saturday, to have a chat and explore the local area. Each week we try and do something different. We always have a laugh. I’ve learnt so much in the time I’ve spent listening to tales of summer holidays to Butlins, hop picking in the summer in Kent, wartime in London, as well as how the local area has changed over the years.

Eve lives in a local care home, and is now bound to a chair, unable to walk. She was a librarian in her working life, and doesn’t know what she would do if she was unable to read now. Her deliveries of books from the local library every six weeks play a large part in keeping her going. We sit and chat about a huge range of topics. On my last visit we managed to get her into a wheelchair and I was able to take her out for a spin round the block. It was the first time in 2 years that she had been outside.

There are so many elderly in our local communities that really want to play an active part in local life, but for whatever reason have become isolated.

Inspiring Young People – Sarah Bradford

1st Caerphilly Scouts Group (predominantly the Cubs, which is the 8 – 10.5 years age group)

As a Mum of three boys who adore bush craft and outdoor activities I was keen for them to experience the enjoyment and challenge of Scouting. My local Cub group was in a dire situation and in risk of closure as it did not have enough Leaders. I volunteered and quickly took on more and more so that I now jointly run the 1st Caerphilly Cubs and assist with both Beavers and Scouts. I am an invested Leader with the scouting name of Bagheera and an official title of ACSL (Assistant Cub Scout Leader).

I am responsible for programme planning and lesson preparation for our group of approx... 30 Cubs, ensuring we provide rounded and enriching opportunities, in addition to attending the weekly Beavers session as a helper. This has involved arranging a diverse variety of events, from organising visits to the local Fire Station to a day of Rugby training with the Ospreys at their home ground in Swansea. I have taken the Cubs on many activities they would not ordinarily get the chance to experience. However it is not all about fun activities, I have recently been responsible for the Cubs completing the Chef Activity badge, teaching the Cubs basic but vital food preparation skills and attending a ‘Farm to Fork’ trail at Tesco to ensure our young members understand and appreciate where their food comes from.

They recently represented all Cubs within our district at the Caerphilly Remembrance Day Parade, teaching the importance of paying our respects to those that paid the ultimate price for our safety and freedom.

I am immensely proud that as a Leader I have been able to direct my Cubs to become strongly involved in community awareness, something I passionately believe in. The highlight of which was being one of the first Cub groups in Wales to achieve the new Disability Awareness Activity badge.

I have continued to keep community involvement as a core focus of my Cubs and they have been involved in assisting the Charity Shining Stars, who provide activities for children and young adults who have severe learning needs and disabilities.

Youth Engagement – Andrew Byrne

Air Cadets

I joined the Air Cadets when I was 13 years old and never managed to leave becoming an adult staff member and progressing to a squadron commander. I have served in Air Cadet squadrons in New Zealand, Australia and United Kingdom.

I am the Commanding Officer of 1408 (Dorking) Squadron which is in my local community. The Air Cadets (also known as Air Training Corps or ATC) is a youth organisation for 12 to 18 year old boys and girls.

I lead 9 adult staff members who assist in running the squadron and delivering the activities to approximately 50 teenaged cadets. Activities include flying and learning about aviation, sports, camping and field craft, target shooting, marching band, visits to RAF stations, the Duke of Edinburgh’ award scheme, and completion of BTEC diplomas in Aviation, Music and Public Service. Our senior cadets also learn about leadership, both theoretical and practical. I have cadets who have flown solo in aeroplanes before they could legally drive. We parade on Monday and Friday evenings and run weekend activities...

There are numerous roles in the Air Training Corps ranging from parents and supporters who manage the finances allowing each cadet the opportunity to participate fully regardless of their financial situation, Civilian Instructors who assist where they can in specialist activities, and uniformed members of staff who may hold a reserve commission in the Royal Air Force.

There are approximately 950 squadrons spread around the United Kingdom.

Charity Ambassador – Ashleigh Gill

Martlets Hospice

My mum is a nurse at the hospice so it is a very big part of our family life.

I work on the nurse’s reception every other Saturday. This includes answering telephone calls, helping and providing support for patients, visitors and nurses, contacting the hospital pharmacy and arranging transport.

I would like to have a charity day at the Martlets so that everyone can see that it’s not a sad or morbid place to be. You meet so many inspirational people, young and old; patients, nurses, relatives and the hospice make each individual feel welcome and the most comfortable place to be. They even have a resident cat called Misty! They don’t receive any government funding so rely heavily on fundraising and volunteers. The Martlets Hospice is not just a place where people go to spend their last days. It’s a place for rest bite too. You always feel like part of the family when you arrive and their fundraising events are held throughout the year, so it would be good for local people to be involved.

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