Montgomeryshire’s outstanding individuals, community groups and businesses will be recognised in the forthcoming annual Montgomeryshire Community Awards, which will celebrate those who have made significant contributions to our local communities.
The inaugural Awards will recognise those in Montgomeryshire who have gone above and beyond to help others, especially in light of the challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Awards, which were founded by Craig and local businessmen Andy Finch and Paul Hawthorn, are being sponsored by Charlies Stores, Iceland, Cellpath and M P Foulkes and run in partnership with Powys County Times. The Judging Panel will be Craig Williams MP, Paul Hawthorn, Yasmin Bell (Citizens advice), Angela Owen (PAVO) and Thom Kennedy (Powys County Times).
“The past year has been very challenging for families and communities across Montgomeryshire, as indeed it has been for everyone across the UK ‘Covid-19 has brought with it unprecedented pressure on individuals, businesses and organisations, but yet the community spirit of our wonderful area has shone through and reminded us how lucky we are to live here.
“A number of us felt that special recognition should be given to those who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic; those who have so generously helped residents in need. What started as an informal chat between myself and the other founders, Andy Finch and Paul Hawthorn, then developed in to the Montgomeryshire Community Awards – an initiative which will be celebrating the achievements of some remarkable people.”
Following the first round of judging on Friday April 30th, the shortlist of finalists in each of the five categories is as follows.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR, for an individual who has volunteered their time to make an outstanding contribution to their community in the past year.
In this highly contended category, three people stood out: Duncan Borthwick, Leon Shearer and Roger Breeze. Duncan, who lives in Arddleen, supports the community of Llanymynech by organising an annual litter pick and fundraising activities. Early on in the pandemic he set up the Llanymynech Covid Support Group, and on VE Day rode round the village on a decorated mobility scooter delivering afternoon teas to elderly residents. Leon was nominated for the wide range of support he has given to Abermule during lockdown. Amongst the long list he set up an online shop, organised and collected prescriptions, set up a ‘ring round’ of vulnerable people to check on their welfare, organised online events and supported the 16 organisations associated with the Community Centre. Roger, from Welshpool, was nominated by North Montgomeryshire Volunteer Bureau for the incredible number of hours he gives as a volunteer driver with their Community Car Scheme, helping vulnerable adults with physical and mental disabilities. During the pandemic Roger also shopped for some who were shielding, delivered prescriptions and helped Welshpool Community Angels.
KEY WORKER OF THE YEAR, for an individual in a key worker position who has gone above and beyond to support the community during the pandemic.
This category saw Amy Coyle, Beverley Evans and Jane Rees selected. Amy Coyle, Manager of Phoenix Homecare and Support in Newtown, was nominated for her dedication to both clients and staff. Working tirelessly over the past year, seven days a week and available at any time of the day or night, Amy has made sure everyone involved with Phoenix has been well supported. Beverley Evans from Berriew is a carer and cleaner who looks after a number of people in the Welshpool area. During the past year B has been on call 24/7, and has done much more than expected to support those she looks after. Jane Rees is Secretary of Powys Montgomery Federation of Women’s Institutes and has kept members involved and inspired, during a period in which they have been unable to meet and when many have felt isolated. Jane, who lives in Abermule, arranged for WIs to meet virtually, held virtual coffee morning, organised a varied programme of speakers and trained people who were unfamiliar with digital communication.
YOUNG PERSON OF THE YEAR, for a young person aged 18 or under who has volunteered their time to make an outstanding contribution towards their community.
This category saw three particularly strong nominations. Ffion Snape, a sixth form student at Llanidloes High School, has been volunteering at the mass-vaccination centre in Newtown since it opened in December. Eva and Ella Martuccio, sisters aged just 10 and 8 from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, started litter-picking around their village in January and then set up ‘The Llanrhaeadr Litterpickers’ group the following month. Eleri Midgley of Tregynon has been helping to prepare and provide Sunday lunches for vulnerable people with members of All Saints Church in Newtown. The judges were extremely impressed at the self-less dedication of these four young ladies, who are all impressive role models.
COMMUNITY GROUP OF THE YEAR, for a group of people, working together, who have improved or brought benefits to their community.
Aberhafesp Young Farmers Club, Walking Newtown and Powys Covid-19 Vaccination Volunteers reached the final for this category. Aberhafesp Young Farmers helped and supported their local community as soon as the first lockdown was announced. Picking up shopping and prescriptions for vulnerable and isolated people proved essential, and one of their members, Gemma Owen, was featured doing just that on national BBC News. Walking Newtown is a dedicated band of volunteers who work tirelessly to make walking in the countryside surrounding Newtown accessible – and this has given such positive benefits during lockdown. Their work includes repairing and replacing gates, stiles and bridges, building steps and clearing paths, developing routes, organising outdoor events and promoting their activities via their website and leaflets. The nomination for the Powys Covid-19 Vaccination Volunteers marks the incredible effort made by local people and partners to deliver the hugely successful vaccination programme here in Montgomeryshire. Hundreds have volunteered to make this happen, with tremendous support from Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations, working together to ensure a way out of the pandemic and a return to some sort of normality.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR, for a local business which has made an exceptional contribution to its community.
Maldwyn Nursery and Family Centre, Phoenix Homecare and Support and Lewis of Llandrinio were all chosen as finalists. Maldwyn was the only nursery to remain open in Newtown throughout the pandemic, acting as the hub for key workers’ pre-school age children seven days a week. Phoenix were nominated for their particularly caring staff and management team who have gone that extra mile during the past year to ensure their clients have been well cared for, especially those who have been unable to see their families. Lewis of Llandrinio is a family owned and run convenience store, post office and petrol station. They are the centre point of the village and have introduced new initiatives since the start of the pandemic, including designated personal shoppers, a volunteer delivery service and regular phone check-ins with those living in isolation.
Commenting, Craig said:
"The standard has been fantastic, and the five of us have found it incredibly difficult to select the three finalists in each category. So many people, businesses and organisations have gone above and beyond this past year to help others."
The Winners and Highly Commended entries in each category will be announced at an online Awards Ceremony on Friday May 21st at 7pm. The Ceremony will be open to the public, and all are welcome to join on the night in a live stream via the Montgomeryshire Community Awards Facebook page or Craig Williams MP’s Facebook page.
For more information, please visit https://montgomeryshirecommunityawards.co.uk/