Media Release : 26 October 2010

Contributions to community life honoured

Contributions to community life in Wealden were honoured at a special reception held at the East Sussex National Hotel last Friday.

"This year we have honoured people of all ages who give up their time to help the community they live in and make a real difference to the lives of the people around them," said Councillor Sylvia Martin, chairman of Wealden District Council. "Their contribution helps energise others into getting involved, keeping our communities welcoming and vibrant."....

A Wealden Community Award was presented to Joyce Richards of Hankham for her contribution to community life in Pevensey and Westham. She started the Friendship Lunch Group which supplies subsidised lunches to local residents each week, and has helped set up the Westham and Pevensey Local Transport Partnership staffed by volunteers, which has succeeded in getting a major Rural Bus Challenge Grant. She was nominated by Councillor Kevin Balsdon.

David and Linda Graham of Hartfield received a Community Award for their contribution to village life in Hartfield. They are trustees of the village hall, and edit the monthly parish magazine, The Hartfield and Coleman's Hatch Chronicle. In 2005 they began a regular lunch for older people in the village hall, which has now become a monthly event run by a team of volunteers. Linda is a driver and telephone duty officer for HATCH, the village volunteer scheme, as well as a member of the parochial church council. She is also secretary of the Wealden Senior Citizens' Partnership. Both David and Linda are trustees of the North Wealden Community Transport Partnership, which manages the Wealdlink Community Bus service, and have helped secure for it a place within a new nationwide community transport support programme. Mr and Mrs Graham were nominated for a Community Award by Councillor Jim Hollins.

Dot Smytherman has been a member of Wadhurst Drama Club for 42 years and started a Junior Drama Club 18 years ago which she has been running ever since. A trained lifeguard and swimming teacher, she has volunteered these skills for Wadhurst Swimming Club and Uplands Community College as well as the village primary school and Brownies and Guides. She is a Community Governor at Uplands College and chairman of its Activities Advisory Committee and has taught cooking, resuscitation and first aid. Mrs Smytherman is also a founder member of the Wadhurst Twinning Association and has taught herself French in the process. She was nominated for the award by Councillor Graham Wells.

Three Special Awards were presented to members of the East Sussex Youth Cabinet: James Davies, Louis Thursfield and Matthew Smeeth.

Louis, from Willingdon Community College also represents Eastbourne and South Wealden in the UK Youth Parliament. James, a student at Heathfield Community College, is the deputy member for the UK Youth Parliament and media representative for the South East region. Matthew attends Beacon Community College, Crowborough. All three have worked with Wealden's councillors and officers on a number of issues and were praised by the Chairman for getting involved and being prepared to challenge the views of others to help benefit young people in Wealden.

The final Community Award was presented to a Wealden District Council employee, Annie Woods from Hailsham. Annie, for the past 16 years, has in her own time helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity, in particular the BBC's Children in Need and the Jeans for Genes charity that raises money for children with genetic disorders. Her award was sponsored by Chief Executive of Wealden District Council, Charles Lant.

The awards were presented at the Chairman's Civic Reception on 22 October. John Kerby Chief Executive for National Talking Newspapers gave a talk about the work of the Heathfield-based charity, which is this year's Chairman's charity and a raffle raised over £1000 for the cause.