Here are the winners and highly commended nominations from the 2023 Runnymede Civic Awards.
Young Sportsperson of the Year
Winner - Emily Bowles-Trow
Emily is a committed junior member of the Addlestone Canoe Club and trains 5-6 times a week all year round. During 2022 she won a medal at the National Championship Sprint events in Nottingham and was selected to represent Great Britain at the Brandenburg International Regatta in Germany. She is also the youngest GB athlete to be selected to participate in the Olympic Hopes Regatta. On top of her amazing achievements the judges were impressed that she also selflessly gives up her time to volunteer at the club to coach and support younger members.
Highly Commended - Jamal Jabangwe
Jamal plays rugby for Vandals Rugby Club and was voted Player of the Season by his fellow players. He impressed the judges by never missing a match or training session no matter what challenges life throws at him.
Highly Commended - Esme Westmoreland
Esme is part of Hellcats Cheerleading club and is an inspiration after contracting meningitis when she was just 1 years old and lost the ability to walk and became deaf in one ear. She has overcome her challenges to become part of the medal winning cheerleading competition squad.
Coach of the Year
Winner - Kyle Francis, Runnymede Basketball
Kyle from Runnymede Raptors Basketball Club certainly receives the award for the most nominations received… 24 in total. However, it wasn’t just the number of nominations that impressed the judges, it was everything that had been said about him. Kyle is obviously a very much loved and respected coach who makes everyone feel welcome and part of the team from the moment they arrive. Kyle ensures that the club is highly inclusive and is brilliant with neurodiverse children and parents are very impressed with how much confidence and discipline Kyle has given to their children.
Highly Commended - Neil Leahy, Addlestone Canoe Club
Neil took over as Head Coach at Addlestone Canoe Club during the pandemic and has since set a new standard when it comes to organising the training and development of coaches which has been a massive benefit to the club and it’s members.
Highly Commended - Aaron Turner, Core Judo
Aaron received so many compliments from parents who all felt he is a fantastic coach, who leads by example and gets the best of all his students and is an outstanding role model for the sport of Judo.
Changing Lives Award
Winner - Nick & Carol Reeves, Addlestone Canoe Club
Our worthy winners of the Changing Lives Award are Nick & Carol Reeves from Addlestone Canoe Club. Whilst originally nominated for Club of the Year the judges decided that although a worthy contender in that category, Nick & Carol were genuinely changing lives and should be recognised as such. In addition to the wonderful achievements they have accomplished as a club they also undertake many canal clean up campaign and are proactively working with local families, youth groups and schools to provide training on water safety and encouraging residents to get involved, so they are our very deserving winners of the Changing Lives Award.
Club of the Year
Winner - Core Judo
Core Judo is the brainchild of Jonathan Purssey, who purchased the dilapidated Thorpe Green Sports Club back in 2018 and has worked tirelessly despite many challenges to finally open the new facility last year. Core Judo have seen members representing Team GB at the Youth Olympics and winning medals at National level. They run a successful scholarship programme which supports over 30 children by providing them with free judo tuition and although some members compete at the highest level, the main focus is for children to have fun, be disciplined and respectful. The club has become an integral part of the community and Jonathan together with a Company called Belron provides fresh food to his Friday Judo class. A true inspiration and worthy winner of Club of the Year.
Highly Commended - Manorcroft United
Manorcroft United have become the heart of the community in Englefield Green West. The judges were impressed with the family-orientated club that has made such a difference to the lives of many of our residents.
Highly Commended - Addlestone Bowls Club
At a time when the sport of lawn bowls in crisis, the Addlestone Bowls club is bucking the trend has gone from 5 to over 100 members in just 18 months and they also won Bowls England ‘Story of the Year’ Award and has really made it’s mark in the local community.
Outstanding Sports Personality Award
Winner - Hannah Russell OBE
After dedicating 12 years to Paralympic sport and British Swimming, Hannah retired in the summer after winning 4 medals at the World Championships in Madeira, followed by a silver at the Commonwealth Games. She is now teaching at a local Primary School and was awarded an OBE for services to swimming in June, so we are very honoured to have her here with us this evening to receive the Runnymede Outstanding Sports Personality Award.
Community Writer of the Year
Winner - Mary Hammond
Mary is the Editor of the Community Life magazines which cover local news and promotes activities and local organisations. To people in our community these magazines provide a great service to our residents to keep them informed of everything going on. As Mary was nominated in both ‘Service to the Community’ and ‘Writer of the Year’ categories we decided to create a unique award for her… Community Writer of the Year.
Young Artist of the Year
Winner - Alex Zhurba
Alex arrived in the UK after fleeing from the war in his home country of Ukraine. He created an exhibition of artwork which chronicled the first 30 days of his experience of war. His exhibition not only has helped to raise awareness, but he also sells his artwork with all profits going to Ukraine charity providing prosthetics for children who have been injured in the conflict.
Highly Commended - Victor Campos-Olcina
Victor impressed the judges his amazing GCSE Lord of the Rings art project and in the words of his teacher, Victor is a humble young man and a complete unsung hero.
Highly Commended - Tippi Tidbury
Tippi is obviously a very talented artist and the judges were impressed with her A level artwork pieces and her teachers comments about how caring and supportive she is to other students whilst remaining humble.
Young Performer of the Year
Winner - Lorna Chinyani
Lorna was nominated by one of her teachers, and the judges were impressed not only her achievements which include taking the lead role in many school productions and singing in school choirs, but also the fact that she is an inspiration to the younger students in the school, which has had a profound impact on the school community and is a wonderful ambassador for Salesian School.
Highly Commended - Olivia Baughan
Olivia has worked extremely hard over the last year and was asked to be part of her dance school competition team and since she has gone from strength to strength. This year her dance team have even been asked to dance at the London Coliseum and Disney Paris!
Arts Group of the Year
Winner - The Chertsey Pantomime
The Chertsey Panto started off 11 years ago as a one-off performance for the cast’s friends and family but over the years have blossomed into a hotly anticipated annual fixture in Runnymede. The proceeds from their sell out shows have raised well over £50,000 for Woking & Sam Beare Hospice and they are now aiming for £100,000. Every year the panto grows bigger and better so if you haven’t yet been, don’t miss out next year as it is highly recommended night out.
Highly Commended - The Thorpe Players
The Thorpe Players have been at the heart of the community for over 70 years and the judges were very impressed not only with the amount of productions and events they host but also the friendly atmosphere of the group.
Highly Commended - Pond-Grainger Performing Arts
Pond-Grainger Performing Arts have a very special place in the Mayor’s heart after their stunning performance at her Christmas Charity event. The talent developed within the faculty is exceptional and they have even performed at Disneyland Paris.
Services to Runnymede Council Tenants
Winner - Jenny Hill
Jenny was actually nominated for a Service to Community award by our Head of Housing Services but the judges felt that she should be recognised with something more appropriate and therefore we are honoured to present Jenny with a special Services to Council Tenants award. Jenni has been representing the interests and views of the our council tenants at both a local and national level for over 20 years, and we are delighted to reward and recognise her years of service to the residents of Runnymede this evening.
Environmentalist & Climate Change
Winner - Hare Hill Open Space Volunteers
Kathy & David Miller started The Hare Hill Open Space Volunteers over 15 years ago with the aim to improve the condition of this large and diverse woodland. These days they have a group of volunteers who meet up most Sundays to help action the management plan drawn up by Surrey Wildlife Trust. Their tasks include removing invasive plants, clearing ditches, distributing woodchips and clearing litter… there is no task they won’t tackle and provide an invaluable service to the community.
Highly Commended - Andi Roy
Andi was nominated for all the volunteering work he does at Holme Farm. The judges wanted to recognise his dedication and enthusiasm for improving the biodiversity, developing habitats for wildlife and maintaining a healthy ecology on the local site.
Highly Commended - The Rubbish Doctors
The Rubbish Doctors were set up by Dr David North-Coombes after being appalled at how much litter people leave behind. So he and 2 other retired GP’s started going out and clearing rubbish around Ottershaw which has made a huge difference to the area.
Triumph Over Adversity Award
Winner - Louise McGarr
In June 2020 Louise’s husband Paul literally dropped down dead in her arms after suffering a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, although his heart stopped for nearly an hour Paul was part of the 2% of people who survive a cardiac arrest outside of hospital. As the majority of people would not survive this Louise turned this life changing event into an opportunity to fundraise in order to raise money for a defibrillator, which has now been installed at the Beehive Pub in Englefield Green. Louise continues to fundraise and raise awareness of the vital need for public access to defibrillators.
Highly Commended - Brent Oba
Brent is a member of Core Judo club and whilst recovering from major surgery he continued to be a mentor for younger judo participants and children with special needs. After 7 months rehab he was back training and competing whilst studying for his GCSE’s.
Highly Commended - Philip Roszkowski
Philip has a number of issues that can make life difficult for him in school but despite his personal obstacles Philip has an admirable attitude to learning and puts an amazing amount of effort into his lessons and impressed the judges with his commitment to his studies despite his challenges.
Young Volunteer of the Year
Winner - Rosie Williams-Taylor
Sadly in 2021 Rosie and her family lost a close family friend to suicide, so Rosie (who was only 8 at the time) decided she wanted to do something so no one else had to have a sad brain, and created the ‘Rosie Cares’ campaign and started fundraising for mental health charities including Mind, Calm and Andy’s Man Club. In the last year Rosie has raised £1175 through various events including colouring competitions, sponsored walks, raffles, cake sales which really impressed the judges.
Winner - David Playfoot
After seeking support himself from the Eikon Charity, David realised that there many more people out there like him who were struggling and experiencing tough situations and wanted to help them. So, at age 14 David became a volunteer with Eikon, which he still continues to this day. In addition, he is now a volunteer mentor at Fullbrook School and also volunteers fulfilling many different roles with the Scouts. The judges were impressed how David had overcome significant challenges in his own life and used his own experiences to help others feel valued, encouraged and hopeful.
Volunteer Group of the Year
Winner - HeBrews
HeBrews community café at St Paul’s Church in Addlestone is run by a team of volunteers. Their ethos is to stop food going to landfill whilst providing the community with meals made from surplus food for minimal or zero cost. In addition to the café, they also make food available to the community from their Surplus Shed and Surplus Shelves services which mean people can collect what they need in return for a donation if they can. They also run a school holidays lunch project with an impressive 2538 lunches given out to local children. The judges were impressed by the dedication and passion of the team which makes everyone feel welcome and safe and fully deserve this recognition.
Highly Commended - Revive Café
As part of the Beacon Church, the team at the Revive Café didn’t hesitate in saying yes when they were asked to host the weekly drop-in sessions for Ukrainian refugees on top of the support they were already providing to Runnymede Foodbank, Just a Helping Hand and the Beacon Church.
Highly Commended - Egham Constellations
The team of 10 volunteers at Egham Constellations meet weekly to provide assisted swimming sessions to people with disabilities or mobility challenges. The team create a fun atmosphere as they help with changing the swimmers, encouraging them in the pool and keeping them safe in the water.
Volunteer of the Year
Winner - Oksana Belcher
Oksana went to the Voluntary Support office just after the start of the conflict in Ukraine to see if there were any opportunities to support those affected by the conflict. Originally from Ukraine herself she was keen to offer translation services. She has always been on hand during the drop in sessions making everyone feel welcome and comfortable. She set up whatsapp support groups and provided personal support for many Ukrainians and helped them build a new community for those who were displaced. The judges loved the fact she has given her time so freely whilst continuing to help her own family back in Ukraine.
Highly Commended - Naomi Barrett
Naomi impressed the judges by setting up and running the Chertsey Clean Up which has had such a big impact on the community. She has kept both adults and children motivated to change the way Chertsey looks and how they feel about the environment.
Highly Commended - Arlene Bansal
Arlene has been instrumental in raising tens of thousands of pounds for the local community in Virginia Water whilst bringing people together in the process. She is a pillar of the community and it would take us all evening to list out all of her achievements.
Service to the Community - Individuals
Winner - Dennis Brown
Dennis was described in his nomination as the volunteers volunteer and the judges thought that summed him up perfectly. He has been involved with the Egham Band for over 50 years and most recently creating a Youth Band which reaches into local schools to teach over 300 students how to play brass instruments. Dennis is also involved with helping to run the Egham Royal Show and is a keen advocate of town twinning, and fostering relationships with our town twin Berglish Gladbach in Germany. The judges had no hesitation in awarding Dennis with a Service to Community award, very well deserved.
Highly Commended - Christine Leach
Christine is the driving force behind Chertsey & Addlestone Good Neighbours who provide transport and support to people in need, often the elderly. Her strong leadership and problem solving skills enabled her to successfully manage a 4 fold increase in transport requests in the Borough.
Highly Commended - Clive Husselbury
Clive has been recognised for his long term commitment to volunteering roles in the borough including chairing the Patients Participation Group of the Crouch Oak Family Practice, being a STEM ambassador to local school children and responsible for the clock and bells at St Paul’s Church.
Service to the Community - Organisations
Winner - Egham Rangers
The Egham Rangers is a group of girls and young women that really impressed the judges with their sense of community. Rangers is a branch of girl guiding and the Egham group has been running since 2015 and currently has 20 members which provides a safe space to enable members to express themselves and switch off from external pressures. Many of the projects that they undertake are community based including litter picking, creating emergency parcels for people who need aid and fundraising to renovate their meeting place which can also be used by the community. They have also taken part in the Libertea project which focuses on what girls can do today to make an impact. We certainly believe they have made a huge impact on Runnymede and delighted to present them with this award for Service to Community.
Highly Commended - Dementia Carers Support Group
Dementia Carers Support Group received a large amount of nominations. It is a unique charity run entirely by volunteers to provide invaluable support to carers who are looking after a loved one with dementia and have recently celebrated their 10 anniversary.
Highly Commended - Holme Farm
The team of volunteers at Holme Farm, headed up by Ronnie & Christine Kendall have achieved amazing things this year, and have worked tirelessly to turn a disused area of land into a valuable part of the community. They continue to go from strength to strength and were selected as one of the Mayor’s charities this year and she has enjoyed watching their fantastic progress.
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