Belper’s community heroes have been recognised for their dedication and good deeds in the town at the News’ 2013 New Year Honours.
During a presentation at the Strutts Community Centre on Thursday, March 21, deserving unsung community champions were presented with their framed certificates by editor Julie Crouch.
There were eight winners in all — although three were unable to attend the ceremony. All eight had been nominated for the accolade by News readers. And they were all certainly worthy of being honoured.
Julie said: “We truly felt there are some unsung heroes out there who selflessly and tirelessly give up their time for the benefit of others.
“We also felt the good work and deeds of these people often went unnoticed by the wider community, and we wanted to give these people some very deserved recognition.
“When we launched the first New Year Honours, we were not sure what the reaction would be, but the public took them on board and nominated some very worthy candidates - and that is certainly true again this year.
“All of our 2013 candidates are inspirational people. We have had readers send in long letters about candidates, others have phoned us anonymously feeling we should just know about a particular person, going on to tell us why they felt that person should get an award.”
First up was Kathy Fairweather. As well as being pivotal in helping Belper win the Britain in Bloom award, she is a key member of the Transition Belper group, is helping organise the Belper Arts Festival, regularly shows her amazing garden off and donates the proceeds to help several charities, and is also in the initial stages of organising several other community-based projects.Kathy said: “I enjoy doing what I do. Belper is a wonderful place and I am proud to help make it better.”
Former Belper News Editor and author Adrian Farmer has achievements to his name including the Discovery Days Festival, which has developed from a weekend to an annual 10-day festival attracting thousands. He also recently developed the Belper Ambassadors scheme, which involves training local traders so that they can offer help, advice and local knowledge to visitors to the town.
“So many people are doing so many things to improve and benefit Belper,” he said. “It’s nice that contribution has been recognised.”
Eileen Maddison was recognised for running a youth club, getting involved with annual pantomimes, encouraging young people to play tennis, taking part in “Open the Book” — a Bible story programme for primary school children and organising fundraising events on behalf of her church and charities.
“I’m very surprised and pleased,” she said.
“There are so many people who assist me and without them I wouldn’t have this.”
Irish dance group leader Carol Platt and her family were honoured for running Folk Friendzy - a not-for-profit group which provides an affordable way for children aged four and upwards to learn a dancing skill.
Carol said: “I’m over the moon. I had no idea we had been nominated until I saw it in the newspaper. It’s nice to receive the recognition.”
Also honoured on the day was charity champion Richard Fletcher. His achievements include being a friend and fundraiser for the Royal School for the Deaf, an active Befriender for Amber Valley CVS, a community representative for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, an Ambassador for Tourism, a volunteer tour guide and youth mentor.
“It’s very humbling to be honoured in this way,” he said. “I feel privileged, it’s really nice to be recognised.”
Those unable to attend the ceremony included JP Deacon who was nominated for having the idea of setting up the Hackett’s Bar Social Night for adults with learning disabilities.
North Mill volunteer Stephanie Hitchcock will also be presented with her award at a later date for her lifetime’s work investigating and furthering our knowledge of Belper’s history.
The final recipient was librarian Julie Buckley who regularly visits the housebound in Belper learning of their tastes in reading and responding in “a caring and thoughtful manner”.