NK Community Champions 2021 finalists are finally announced

With just one week to go until the NK Community Champion Awards presentation for 2021 (on November 10), the 36 finalists can be revealed.

NK Community Champion Awards 2021. EMN-210111-190134001

From around 100 nominations made by people impressed and positively impacted by their voluntary community endeavour, the finalists were selected by a panel of judges representing the 12 community-minded businesses and organisations that finance and support the awards programme and make it happen, including media partner, the Sleaford Standard.

Across 12 categories they all represent a tiny fraction of the phenomenal levels of public-spirited actions across North Kesteven. Their activities will also be showcased at www.NKawards.org

In appreciation of everything they all do, they are invited to a socially-distanced awards celebration at Doddington Hall on Wednesday November 10 – compered by BBC Lincolnshire’s Melvyn Prior – where the winners will be announced.

Council chairman, Coun Susannah Barker-Milan, said: “Each one of our 36 finalists has an inspirational story to tell that has the potential to motivate similar expressions of community concern and consideration. In association with the community-minded businesses that make these awards possible, we are delighted to be able to champion their actions and show appreciation on behalf of the community for all that they do in effecting a positive difference in people’s individual and communities’ collective lives right across North Kesteven.”

Also listed at www.NKawards.org, the finalists for 2021 are:

l Contribution to Arts and Culture:

Jonny and Emma Hoare, North Rauceby.

Chairman of Sleaford Little Theatre, Johnny and Emma’s offer of hosting an outdoor Shakespeare show at their home – the first ever in the group’s 70-year history – this summer ensured the group could fulfil its cultural aims and purpose.

Through their energy, hospitality and active participation, the show went on.

l International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick:

Through their personal endeavour the 500-plus volunteers, are central to the success, daily operation of the IBCC involved in everything from research and archiving to educational support, tours and administration.

l Natalie Mason, Sleaford:

Extending well beyond her interest and role as a teacher, Natalie has rescued, repaired and re-interpreted the William Alvey School’s air raid shelter, preserving and curating a valuable asset for both the school and wider community, investing countless hours and personal expense in transforming the erstwhile store into a living museum.

l Community Business:

Hume Arms, South Kyme.

Over their 13 years of tenure Maeve and Vijay Shulka have worked hard to make the Hume Arms an integral part of village life, not just a the local watering hole but a real focal point of village activities. From free breakfasts for litter pickers to accommodation for village clubs and societies, charity and fundraising events, they bring the community together. Additionally, they look out for villagers with delivery of meals, lockdown shopping, welfare checks and quiet offers of support.

l Manor Farm Shops, Leasingham. Continuing to offer an exemplary level of community care and consideration which escalated into extensive home deliveries during initial pandemic lockdowns, Manor Farm Shops continues to ensure supplies are available whenever and wherever they’re needed. For years they have arranged a free Christmas carols get-together, offering refreshment and asking for nothing more than charitable donations.

l Mother Nature, Sleaford: A champion of plastic-free living. Mother Nature staff have a real passion for the environment and customer wellbeing, offering a much-needed solution to a growing problem, with zero-waste re-fill stations for cleaning, personal care and grocery items, local supply connections and active promotion of alternatives for good health.

l Contribution to Climate Action

Les and Christine Parker, Quarrington: Not only through their individual, personal endeavours, but also through their instigation of and leadership within Global Sleaford, Les and Christine champion all things pertaining to climate resilience. Les is also a champion of safe cycling.

l Sleaford Climate Action Network, Sleaford. Sleaford Climate Network has continued to grow in size and impact as ever-more environmental groups join the network to increase collective reach, engagement and impact.

l Ben Willetts, Skellingthorpe.

Through Old Wood Organics, Ben is creating a growing community that champions sustainable horticulture and builds a happier, healthier life for himself, his family and volunteer learners with neurodivesity.

l Coronavirus Response:

Branston Good Neighbour Scheme. The Branston Good Neighbour Scheme sees a core group of 30 volunteers collect shopping and prescriptions, check in on the elderly and vulnerable, carry out small jobs, befriend and run a food larder to ensure ‘no one goes without’.

l Brant Broughton Brownies, Brant Broughton. Through their own initiative, the Brownies delivered goody bags containing wide-ranging items to those affected by loneliness in the four communities they draw from in order to ease the sense of isolation suffered by many.

l Sage Gardener, Eagle Hall.

An established support network to enhance health and wellbeing alongside learning and befriending within a therapeutic nature setting, the core team and volunteers running Sage Gardener had to entirely rethink their operating model and styles of outreach in response to the pandemic.

Contribution to a Better Environment

l Roberta Bray, Ruskington.

Inspiring and supporting positive environmental action in her immediate area, Roberta is relentless in her reach and determined in her mission to achieve plastic-free status for Sleaford, with 900 people and 15 businesses signed up and 20 further allies. She also organises litter picks, liaises with schools, churches and groups, and runs a local Wombles group, gardening swap shop and Terracycle drop-off point.

l Trees for Heckington, Heckington. An ongoing project established with the aim of creating accessible community woodland in or close to Heckington.

Walking Wombles, Navenby

Set up as a Facebook group in March 2021 in response to increasing littering of the verges in Navenby, the Walking Wombles quickly motivated into a group of 91 people each picking litter on daily walks.

l Contribution to Health and Wellbeing: 
Thomas Dunning, Waddington.

Tom is a mental health ambassador dedicated to supporting his peers in his spare time. Through a running group where talking and support take precedence, a no-holds-barred autobiography opening up his own story, international public speaking events, talks within UK schools, colleges and workplaces and as an NHS service user governor he is helping to improve mental health provision, awareness and recognition.

l Judy Johnson, Sleaford.

Judy works tirelessly in support of vulnerable families, volunteering with the Sleaford Food Larder, and supporting student and family health, wellbeing and provision of needs; ensuring that those most in need within the community are equipped with internet, laptop, food and other essentials.

l Sue Williams, Sleaford.

As the lead contact for United Together, an umbrella organisation of four adult Sleaford-based wellbeing and mental health peer support groups, Sue draws together provision and supports individuals between sessions.

l Longstanding Contribution to a Group or Organisation:

Gordon Forsyth, Lincoln.

Chairman of Parents and Autistic Children Together, Gordon ensures autism support for families adults and professionals within North Kesteven and elsewhere is responsive and relevant and has done for over 18 years.

l Thelma Smith, Leasingham.

Over 17 years Thelma has been the driving force behind the success of Laffletics, a weekly adapted sports club for people with disabilities in Sleaford.

l Helen Zealand, Sleaford.

Involved in Scouting within Sleaford for well-over 20 years, Helen is now a Group Scout Leader, devoting time to multiple events each week.

l Good Neighbour:

Chris Banks, Sleaford. From taking meals to the housebound, to climbing into a loft to isolate a water leak at 2am Chris has brought a high-degree of reassurance to his neighbours knowing he is so close and happy to help. He inspired his children to act similarly by baking cakes, making pictures and crafts for the elderly in their community.

l Anni Hibberd, Bracebridge Heath. When asked to look out for a neighbour’s house while they are away, Anni goes the extra mile by tending the garden, sweeping the path and generally caring for it as if it were her own; reassuring them that it is in safe hands.

l Evie Ronie, Sleaford.

Aged just eight, Evie heard the news and felt it was all a little too sad. She made up little baskets of flowers and eggs and dropped them off along her street to cheer up her neighbours.

l Contribution to Community Safety:

Dunston Yarn Bomb, Dunston.

Through the actions of a core group of around 20 crafters, Dunston was transformed into a blaze of colour and crafting, raising awareness of domestic abuse this summer, decorating benches, phone boxes, notice boards and bridges with needlework and knitting, raising £1,280 for EDAN.

l June Gwillym, Metheringham.

For some years June attended and then chaired the B1188 Community Police Panel. Since its disbandment she has set up a support group and pushing neighbourhood policing and scams awareness.

l Jade Hope John, Sleaford

When an assault took place in the summer, Jade arranged a ‘reclaim the streets’ walk attended by 60 people across the age and gender spectrum, showing support and solidarity with those impacted by inappropriate behaviour and language and providing a platform for positive outcomes.

l Community Spirit:

Zoe Ireland, Ruskington.

Having initiated and organised an outstanding village response of community support in the initial lockdown, Zoe immediately stepped up to collect around the village to help the Afghan evacuees arriving with nothing.

l Mark Reynolds, North Hykeham. Under Mark’s leadership, the Hykeham In Bloom programme has grown and flourished from five run-down planters to 17 displays across the town nurtured by a healthy crop of volunteers, winning the East Midlands In Bloom Silver Award this year.

l Sleaford Islamic Society, Sleaford. Building on an established practice of reaching out into the community and opening the doors of the Sleaford Prayer Hall, Sleaford Islamic Society has most recently driven the local response in support Afghan evacuees. They foster interfaith relations and understanding, hosting school visits, feeding for the homeless and supporting good causes wherever there is need.

l Contribution to Sport:

John Davies, Metheringham.

John invests countless hours to keep Metheringham Bowls Club on the ball. mowing, arranging league games, sorting refreshments as well as playing.

l Shaun Fisher, Sleaford

Whilst furloughed from work by the pandemic restrictions, Shaun instead provided online motivational health and fitness classes and advice via Facebook.

l Barry Howorth, Holdingham

For over 13 years, from player to coach and now general manager, Barry has promoted and built up the Lincolnshire Bombers American Football Club. Now with three teams, he makes himself available 24/7 to support players with a safe space and through the complexities of playing as a contact sport in these trying times.

l Young Achiever:

Keira and Cain Dodsworth, Sleaford. When their mum was diagnosed with a spinal nerve disorder, life changed overnight for Keira and Cain. The teenagers became chief carers and through all of the uncertainty of their mum’s health, have been amazing; ensuring the home runs effectively and getting to school.

l Laurel Mountain, Great Hale

In response to the tragic death of her childhood best friend from cancer, Laurel ran a marathon that raised more than £2,000 for the charity ‘Jamie Forever ‘12’.

l Riley Pickwell, Sleaford

At the age of 19, and on the cusp of lockdown, Riley set up a whole new football club; throwing himself into the enterprise, forming a committee, securing a ground, finding a sponsor, fundraising and signing up to FA standards and initiatives, as well as supporting the young men’s mental health while juggling university studies and playing sport himself.