Winners of Swanage’s community awards announced

Swanage’s community heroes were recognised for their valuable contribution to society at a special event organised by Swanage Town Council.

The awards ceremony took place in the evening on Friday 19th January 2024 at The Centre on Chapel Lane in Swanage.

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Swanage Community awards 2024

Guests gathered at The Centre in Chapel Lane

“Volunteers are at the heart of our communities”

There were 34 nominations received for the Swanage Town Council community awards 2023 and from that list, the winners were chosen by a panel consisting of Swanage town mayor Tina Foster, deputy mayor Chris Moreton, team rector for Swanage and Studland ministry Ian Bird, and the council’s planning and community engagement manager Niki Clark.

Swanage town mayor Tina Foster said:

“On behalf of the town council, I would like to thank all of the town’s volunteers for their dedication, energy and enthusiasm. Volunteers are at the heart of our communities and, with limited government funding for public services, are crucial to our local towns and villages, and truly make a positive difference from which the whole community benefits.

“The town council would also like to extend a thank you to all the town’s emergency service workers, for the positive and tireless work they undertake in Swanage and the surrounding areas for the benefit of our community.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

One of the glass star awards

The winners

Swanage Community awards 2024

Andy Knill presented with his award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster

Arts, sciences and culture: Andy Knill

The judges said:

“The winner of this award is a local artist who a few years ago set up the Art for Fun project, sharing the joy of art, offering a safe space and free art materials for all to use.

“The free workshops that this person provides to the local community and visitors alike, make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of participants, for example learning a new skill, with self-confidence, and improving mental health. His workshops have also encouraged local children to have an interest in art, using different types of materials.

“This person gave his time providing colourful artwork for the sea defence blocks in the lower High Street last year, which were part of an art trail called Flooding Swanage with Art. We loved the artwork on this person’s overalls and hat!

“When he is not out running free guided Talking Art Walks along the art trail, you will see him creating outside his studio most days, with many stopping for a cuppa and a friendly chat.

Comments received:

“Dedicated, friendly and welcoming, and all for free.”

“It would be fantastic if this person could win an award for something he does for free, for all, each day. He’s wonderful!”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Swanage deputy mayor Chris Moreton presents Paul Morris with his award

Service with a smile: Paul Morris

The judges said:

“This person works in one of the local supermarkets and always has a smile and a friendly greeting for everyone, lighting up what sometimes can be a dreary food shop!

“He also freely gives his time and support to the local community and local charities, undertaking lots of volunteer activities and fundraising, including collecting for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Swanage Carnival, kindly running errands for local businesses, offering to fetch business owners coffee, post mail, engaging with their customers and visitors, collecting milk bottle tops for the guide dogs charity, and generally just helping others, all with a big smile on his face.

“We think we can all say that the list of kind acts that this person undertakes is a long and valuable one, and we want to say a big thank you to him for all that he does for the community!

Comments received:

“It’s simply second nature to this really kind gentleman.”

“I cannot think of anyone in Swanage who deserves the award more.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

team rector for Swanage and Studland ministry Ian Bird presents an award to Sustainable Swanage. Left to right: Maggie, Thelma Deacon, Avril Harris, Ian Bird, Jan Owens and Sarah Spurling

Green champion: Sustainable Swanage

The judges said:

“The group that has won this award was established in Swanage in 2019 as part of the town’s ongoing efforts to become a more sustainable community, and protect our precious environment.

“It consists of many local volunteers, supported by the town council, who work on and provide invaluable positive support to environmental projects and initiatives in the town.

“Its founding mission was to positively support the community of Swanage in reducing its waste, with an emphasis on plastic, but have since expanded their work to include biodiversity and energy. They provide a link between different local organisations and groups, working together to find solutions to issues that affect the local environment.”

The group has been instrumental in some fantastic projects including:

  • The setting up of the Peveril Point and The Downs Local Nature Reserve
  • Tree planting projects at Prospect Green, the High Street and Victoria Avenue
  • Establishing the Swanage Community Pantry at Herston village hall, and also the Repair Café
  • Picnic in the Park at Herston Community Field
  • Supported the setting up of a local swift bird project
  • Created a Swanage tree trail and supporting literature

“The group also hosts free information events and open meetings for the local community on a wide variety of subjects, and has undertaken wildlife surveying, a footpath survey, and a new project Swanage Waterways, to name but a few!

“We are so very lucky to have these dedicated volunteers in our town!”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Marianne Parker presented with her award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster, along with Marianne’s mother, Ann Figg who ran the shop previously

Small business of the year: Marianne Parker owner of The Wool and Craft Shop in Station Road

The judges said:

“While undertaking research for this award we found a news article from the Daily Echo in August 2007 celebrating the business’s 100 years, having been trading since 1907. That is a very impressive 117 years. Maybe more impressive is that this business has remained in the same family since that time. What an amazing achievement!

“Comments received remark on the friendly service, provided with a personal touch, and nothing is too much trouble. What an asset to our town this business is.

“Notably, the business owner, along with staff, and with customer support, also makes handmade gifts for donation to charitable causes, including Dementia Friendly Purbeck, Salvation Army, Ukraine, Africa, poppies for the Royal British Legion, and more than 500 handmade blankets donated to the Herston village hall Wellbeing Café.

“Congratulations and here’s to many more successful years.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Swanage deputy mayor Chris Moreton presents Natalie Boyce (left), Maisie Anderson (centre) and Mel Norris (right) with their award

Community award: Swanage Museum

The judges said:

“The group of volunteers who have won this award work tirelessly away, sometimes behind the scenes, sharing their passion and knowledge of the town and its heritage, and their enthusiasm shines through.

“Volunteers welcome visitors who are interested in finding their ancestors, looking at photographic archives, local books and references, or researching local and family history. There is an extensive collection of local art history research available, along with knowledgeable volunteers to guide you through the maze of information available!

“Advice and guidance is on hand regarding the historic trails around the town, and expertise and knowledge is passed on to support local events and displays regarding historic milestones and occasions.

“A big thank you to this group for their dedication and hard work recording and organising the history of our wonderful town for future generations to come.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Swanage deputy mayor Chris Moreton presents David and Jeanette Harris with their award

Community award: David and Jeanette Harris

The judges said:

“The winners of this award had previously been the owners of a much loved and popular business for more than 30 years. They provided a longstanding, treasured community service, often going above and beyond, and had a kind word for all, offering a helping hand, and lending a listening ear to those in need.

“They offered invaluable support throughout the pandemic, checking on people they had not seen for a while, and delivering goods to those that needed provisions. Customers also used to come from far and wide for their beautiful flowers, shrubs, and plants.”

Comments received:

“They have always been ready with a cheery smile and warm greetings for their customers.”

“A town council award would be richly merited, and a fitting tribute to their fine service and outstanding citizenship over many long years.”

“They will be sorely missed.”

“Enjoy your well-deserved retirement.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Thelma Deacon presented with her award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster

Volunteer of the year: Thelma Deacon

The judges said:

“The winner of this award is described as an unsung volunteer who has tackled many different voluntary projects and services to the local community in the last eight years.

“In particular, as a leading campaigner in the successful fight to save Purbeck’s ambulance car, spending many hours talking to the public to raise awareness of the campaign, tending the war graves in Northbrook Cemetery, and the production of a giant poppy each year on Swanage Pier, as well as being a volunteer for the pier – even being spotted as an elf at Christmas!

“This person provides the local community with information and explanations regarding public documents, and consultations about the future of the town, on a local radio station, her happy voice welcoming guests, and passing on information and details of local events to listeners.”

Comments received:

“This person has a ready smile, and an open heart.”

“This person is always on hand to give advice if her friends and neighbours have minor health problems, and will always listen to others.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Sue Vince receives her award from team rector for Swanage and Studland ministry Ian Bird

Volunteer of the year: Sue Vince

The judges said:

“The winner of this award is a coordinator for the Swanage Walking for Health Group, providing welcomed company, morning walks, coffee and a friendly ear.

“Every Tuesday morning this person can be found walking the seafront, sometimes out to Peveril Point, with the older, and not so active, members of our community, providing all the advice and encouragement a new walker needs to build fitness at a pace that is right for them.”

Comments received:

“Company and exercise, what a wonderful combination!”

“What a wonderful service this person provides, thank you, and what location is better than the coastline of Swanage to walk along!”

“This person should be recognised for their hard work, and commitment to others.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Sue Whitton presented with her award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster

Lifetime achievement: Sue Whitton

The judges said:

“Sue is described as an unsung hero for many of the events that happen annually in the town. She is always willing to help any fundraising event with her catering, in particular, catering for both the late Queen’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilees, which alone amounted to 1,200 food boxes.

“As a retired NHS senior sister, she came out of retirement in 2020 to undertake Covid vaccinations at Wareham Hospital throughout the pandemic.

“Sue serves on Swanage Hospital League of Friends and passionately believes all clinics must be kept at Swanage Hospital to serve the community.”

Comments received:

“I cannot emphasise how much work she quietly and efficiently carries out within our town.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Valerie Burden receives her award from team rector for Swanage and Studland ministry Ian Bird

Lifetime achievement: Valerie Burden

The judges said:

“For over 25 years this person has been promoting guiding (Brownies and Guides) in the Purbeck area, serving as both District and Division Commissioner on a number of occasions.

“This person is dedicated to keeping as many guiding units open as possible, which has helped many young girls over the years develop life skills and self-confidence and the opportunity for those attending guides to make lifelong friends.

“Guiding welcomes all, no matter race, religion or ability and although a small monetary contribution is asked for and this person ensures that no girl is turned away due to lack of funds.

“When the land at the old guide hut was sold for development, this person found a new home for the Guides in Bell Street, negotiated for its purchase, consulted with architects, and pushed the project forward.

“She would probably have put a hard hat and hi-viz on given half the chance!”

Comments received:

“This person is an inspirational leader”

“This person is at the forefront of fundraising, and still, every year throws themself into catering quiz nights, and running a stall at the Christmas Market, to keep servicing the financial needs of HQ.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Swanage deputy mayor Chris Moreton presents Brian Norman with his award

Lifetime achievement: Brian Norman

The judges said:

“This person has been a member of the Swanage Regatta and Carnival committee for 34 years, he was chair for four years, and has been president for 10 years. He has seen the carnival through good, and not so good times, and has been instrumental in putting committee procedures in place.

“This person has been a key member of the carnival’s continued success, and during his time as president raised more than £250,000 for local charities and good causes.

“This person has been a key part of the carnival team, offering advice and support to the current and former chair, as well as running events and collecting money.

“What an amazing asset to the town, and what an amazing achievement.”

Comments received:

“The success of the carnival over the past decade has a lot to do with this person, and away from the carnival, he has also been involved with the rowing club and coached the youth rowing team.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

David Cook presented with his award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster

Lifetime achievement: David Cook

The judges said:

“This person has received a sizable number of nominations and the appreciation for all they have given to the town has shone through the comments on nomination forms.

“I think it would be fair to say that this person has been an encouraging influence on the progress of musical ability in the town as a bandmaster, conductor and musical director for 17 years.

“The team has gone from strength to strength, endless concerts, raising many thousands of pounds for local charities, encouraging musicians of all ages and abilities, and progressing many young musicians.

“This person has decided that, as they have a ‘big’ birthday this year, it is now time for someone else to take over the reins, however their personality, drive, and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”

Comments received:

“This has been a wonderful team to belong to, where we all feel valued and enjoy making music for the town and visitors to enjoy.”

“A truly Christian, inspirational, talented person.”

“In their 17 years as musical director both groups have swelled enormously which is down to this person’s musical expertise, humour and personal qualities.”

Swanage Community awards 2024

Members of the Swanage Town Band presented with their award from Swanage town mayor Tina Foster. Left to right: Chris Moreton, Neil Tatchell, Peter Curtis, Liz Moreton, Tina Foster, David Cook, Bridget Burtwell and Liz Roberts

Community award: Swanage Town Band

The judges said:

“Following on from David’s award, the panel felt that the band also deserved recognition for all that they do for the town, and the joy that they bring through their live concerts, and donations to charities.

“Thank you for the music!”

Special mentions

The Old Stables Delicatessen and Eatery: A newly established business, welcoming, consistently providing excellent customer service, eco friendly shop, and accommodating to individual needs

Frank Roberts: For the tireless and varied volunteer work he continues to do for the town in all weathers

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