The Falcon Flames are a cheerleading club established by experienced cheerleader Emily Wright nine years ago. Cheerleading is a fully inclusive team sport enabling people of all ages to be active, have fun, share aspirations and work as a team to achieve goals. Over the years the club has grown to offer a wide range of classes including cheer for fun, cheer for minis, cheer for juniors, stunt, and dance.
The club organise a yearly show (held at the Priory Centre) where the cheerleaders perform and have fun; some members compete in national competitions and the Flames have achieved great success. They can also been seen cheering at St Neots Football Club and Rugby Club games as well as local events including the annual Christmas Lights Switch On.
The Falcon Flames have been particularly credited for their efforts in building children’s self-esteem and confidence, encouraging team work and celebrating all levels of achievement amongst their members. Emily, founder of the Falcon Flames said: “I am so honoured as a coach to watch my cheerleaders grow and become well mannered, caring young people.” When being given the news about reaching the final of St Neots Awards Emily said: “we are overwhelmed to be nominated for an award, and thank our fabulous team of boys and girls that come along every week to make this club what it is today. This is our 10th year and the Falcon Flames are soaring”
The Riverside Miniature Railway (RMR) is a community led railway project established for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to St Neots. The railway is built, maintained and operated by a group of unpaid volunteers. The volunteers have worked tirelessly to obtain finances for the railway through generous grants provided by local government, Rotary and local businesses, as well as sponsorship from the general public. Many volunteers have also committed their own personal funds to the project, as well as many man-hours to keep the project moving forward.
RMR are now operating every weekend during the summer months (July to October 2017). In addition they have also been able to involve local groups such as Switch Now and school children in the project.
RMR’s commitment to sustainability is also key. Recycled products are used wherever possible and the group have made every effort to disturb as little of the surrounding flora and fauna as possible. They are creating a useful, exciting resource in the park, in a previously underused area of parkland.
The Awards judging panel described Riverside Miniature Railway as “an innovative, community asset project, achieving a great deal in a short time, providing significant value to the local community and tourism.”
Sam and Liam’s son, Zachery was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2010. Since then they have worked tirelessly to fundraise £67,000 so Zachery can have equipment and operations to make his life more comfortable. Sam’s parents have entered Tough Mudder, triathlons and marathons, organised fun days, events and raffles to fundraise, whilst all the time never giving up hope for their son and always keeping a smile on their face.
The Smith family have shown sheer courage and determination and have been described as a “truly inspirational family”
The St Neots Awards judging panel described the family as an: “inspirational, compassionate and caring family, fundraising to cope with hardship and raise awareness about cerebral palsy.”
The Smith Family said: “We are lost for words to hear that we are finalists for the Mayors Award. It’s a great pleasure to be recognised for our efforts but we couldn’t have achieved it without our family and friends”
Trevor was a co-founder of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve in 1989 and has served the reserve tirelessly ever since as a trustee and volunteer. His achievements include taking the Friends group to beyond 2,500 members, (making it the biggest friends group in nature conservation in the UK) and raising over £10,000 for the reserve through his book project. The Friends Group is a registered charity and donates all its income to the Reserve.
Trevor has led all fundraising efforts, volunteer recruitment, events and outreach to make the Friends a thriving and active support group with more than 100 volunteers.
Visitors come from all over the UK to see and hear the birds at Paxton Pits. The reserve has been described as a ‘national treasure’ adding a great deal to the quality of local life and educating the community about the natural world and wildlife preservation.
St Neots Awards panel described Trevor as: “an excellent champion for the local environment, wildlife and nature. His dedication to conservation work will ensure knowledge is passed on for future generations to enjoy.”
Debbie works as a midwife at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and also volunteers as a Breastfeeding Counsellor for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM), to provide advice and assistance to new mothers struggling with breastfeeding.
Debbie runs a drop in clinic at the Eaton’s Children’s Centre every week, conducts home visits and provides assistance on the phone day and night to support mothers facing breastfeeding challenges. Debbie has been described as being “incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers” and has been dedicated to the volunteer role for more than 15 years.
One local mother said: “we are so lucky to have Debbie’s guidance and continuing support within our community. Debbie has been the go to person for breastfeeding support and advice amongst countless mothers in St Neots.”
The St Neots Awards judging panel commented: “Debbie is clearly a vital support for mothers in our community and is a dedicated nurse extending her professional knowledge in a volunteer capacity, going above and beyond to help new mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.”
Despite only taking up dragon boating as a sport just over a year ago, Erin was selected to join the Great Britain Junior Dragon Boat Squad to compete at the World Junior Championships in France earlier this year. The GB crew had great success, achieving a gold medal in their class, of which Erin was a part of.
Erin has been described by her coaches as a “shining light” to other junior members of St Neots Dragon Boat Team, showing them how hard work and dedication can pay off. The Awards shortlisting panel described Erin as a “young role model and fine sporting representative for our town, having achieved outstanding results, through dedication to the sport of dragon boating.”
Upon hearing the news about being a finalist for Sports Person of the Year, Erin commented:
“I feel privileged and humbled that I have been shortlisted for this award as I have only been doing this sport for 1 year with the club that I paddle for, St Neots Dragon Boat Team (SNDBT). It is through this team that I was given the opportunity (6 months ago) to train with the Great Britain under 18 Dragon Boat squad and was selected to represent my country at the World Championships. I was honoured to be selected and to become a World Champion was an experience that I will never forget. To then come home from the Championships in France to find I had been nominated for this award was the icing on the cake and I am genuinely honoured that I have been shortlisted as a finalist. To get to this level took a lot of hard work and dedication and I wouldn’t have been able to go as far as I have without the support of SNDBT and the GB squad. I have also had support from many others including Lovett Sales and Lettings and St Neots Town Council who helped to fund my training and kit.”
Alexis (also known as Lex) is father to 5 year old Samson, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2015. Since then Alexis has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the condition and fundraise for the charity, Action Duchenne, to aid research into finding a cure for the progressive, life-limiting condition, in the hope of helping his own son and other families affected by muscular dystrophy.
Over the past year Alexis has taken part in the Parallel London race (the world’s first fully inclusive, mass participation event) where he pushed Samson in his wheelchair over a 10km race; Alexis has taken part in the world’s Toughest Mudder Competition in the Nevada desert, completed a 100km bike ride from Newcastle to London, and has completed a free fall jump from 10,000ft. In addition he has donned a homemade sandwich board and walked the streets of St Neots and Norwich to raise awareness of Action Duchenne. In total Alexis’ efforts have raised over £3,000 for the charity; he has shown a brilliant example of positivity and resilience to his family and the wider community.
The St Neots Awards judging panel said: “Alexis has shown outstanding dedication and determination to face the challenge and raise awareness about his son’s condition; he is an inspirational member of our community.”
Thomas and Charlie are young carers for their mother. They care for their mum (physically and emotionally), who has undergone numerous surgeries due to chronic chrones disease, which has left her with extreme fatigue and needing daily medication. She also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, meaning she is in a lot of pain all the time.
The boys love to help with things around the house, including cooking and cleaning and are proud that they are part of making sure their mum is okay at all times, including helping her with her medication. They do not see their caring role in a negative light; instead they take pride in what they do for their mum and have provided a vital role in her recovery.
Thomas and Charlie have also helped Carers Trust Cambridgeshire raise awareness of Young Carers in this region, by helping on information stands at events, collecting donations and assisting the charity with identifying hidden carers in the community. They have also spoken publicly at school assemblies about their experience of being young carers.
The Awards judging panel described Thomas and Charlie as: “inspiring young carers who are role models for the youth of St Neots and a voice for other young carers.”
Ken Minney has devoted many years to supporting the St Neots branch of the Royal British Legion. Elected as branch Chairman in 1995, Ken held the position until 2016, when aged 83, ill health forced him to step down. In addition to his 21 year service, Ken was also the ‘Poppy Appeal’ organiser, raising several thousand pounds for the cause and was instrumental in organising the town’s annual Remembrance Service and Parade for many years.
Ken is described as showing “total commitment, determination and dedication to what he sees as his duty.” The St Neots Awards judges said: “Ken has been a lifetime supporter of military charities and has dedicated his time to help those less fortunate.
The Spartans are St Neots Dragon Boat Club’s Youth Team, comprising of paddlers between the ages of 9 and 17.
Despite being formed less than a year ago, the Spartans have had great success in the Great Britain U18 league and the crew were recently asked to feature in a CBBC production, promoting dragon boating as a sport.
The Spartans have also caught the attention of the Great Britain U18 head coach, Matty Richardson, who claimed that the paddlers were “amongst the best he had seen after such a short space of time together.”
Dan Clarke, the Spartans coach has said: “we are in an exciting phase of our team’s development; the juniors have achieved so much in such a short space of time, all without ever allowing the sport to become too serious.”
The Spartans have done this all with broad smiles on their faces, displaying all the great values of sportsmanship, friendship and dedication to both the physical and mental side of becoming young champions.
The Awards judging panel said “The Spartans have achieved impressive results in a short space of time and have helped promote dragon boating as a sport to a wider youth audience.”
St Neots Rowing Club is long established and boasts a number of members who have competed as world champions at junior and under-23 levels, plus gold medallists at the Youth Olympic Games.
The Club has competed at Henley Royal Regatta for the past two years and enjoyed considerable success at the Cambridge Town Bumps. Their annual two-day regatta attracts rowers to the town from all over Britain, and their regular learn-to-row courses continue to be over-subscribed.
The Club also supports other sporting clubs in the town – in particular St Neots Dragon Boat Team and Riverside Runners – and works hard to maintain the town’s stretch of the Ouse for all river users to enjoy.
St Neots Rowing Club commented about being shortlisted: “We are honoured to be shortlisted for Sports Group of the Year. We’ve been in the heart of the town for more than 150 years, giving people the chance to try an alternative to more mainstream sports and opening their eyes to an exciting pastime with huge health benefits. We’d like to thank everyone who votes for St Neots Rowing Club in this year’s St Neots Awards and wish the best of luck to all other nominees.”
Vir2oso is a volunteer led art project – established 3 years ago – to provide children, young people and families with the opportunity to explore, develop and inspire their creative side through arts and crafts.
Vir2oso was born after founder Tracey’s severely dyslexic son asked his mum to “start an art club”. Tracey decided to create a group where she could encourage young people to flourish and explore creative thinking.
Three years later Vir2oso is now a thriving group with several volunteers supporting their activities and events. They have worked with St Neots locality team and Centre 33 who support young adults with mental health issues. They have created murals at Eynesbury Church and Priory Junior School, displayed community art pieces at Loves Farm House and regularly attend annual town events and the Farmers Market. Most recently the group have renovated an old caravan to turn it into an all-weather art studio, enabling them continue to offer free art activities for children and families all year round.
The Awards judging panel described Vir2oso as “an asset to the town, having made an outstanding contribution to art education and creative thinking for young people in our community.”
The Roundhouse Capacity Campaign is a successful, volunteer led movement, established to lobby Cambridge County Council to find a solution to the need for catchment children on Love’s Farm to be educated at the local school.
Concerns were raised to Cambridge County Council in January 2017, with regards to inadequate space for catchment children on Loves Farm at The Roundhouse Primary Academy. When the school places were given on April 18th 2017, 18 families living on Love’s Farm didn’t get places at the school.
The geography of Love’s Farm makes this a unique situation. The school is in the centre of the estate and the only access into the estate is to the south, meaning children north of the school will have to drive past the school to get to alternative schools. The catchment area covers the whole of Love’s Farm. However, the admissions area is getting smaller each year and is now only 400m from the school.
The campaign has received wide local support and the group led a petition with over 250 signatures to present to the Children’s and Young People’s committee at Cambridge County Council. This resulted in the County Council proposing a permanent solution to tackle school capacity issues for Love’s Farm children from September 2018.
The judges commented: “The Roundhouse Capacity Campaign has been a successful community led project, seeking to benefit local primary school children.”
Emilio Saavedra suffers from Neurofibromatosis, a little known neuro-genetic condition affecting nerve tissue, causing numerous medical conditions. Despite dealing with the challenge Emilio’s condition brings, the Saavedra family dedicate their time to raising money for the Neuro Foundation. In just four years the family have raised an outstanding £104,000 for the charity through fundraising events including the Butterfly Kisses Ball and Team Emilio London Marathon runners. Emilio’s parents also work full time, whilst caring for Emilio and their two other children.
The St Neots Awards panel said: “The Saavedra family’s strength has inspired the whole community.”
Melanie Saavedra said about being a finalist for the Mayor’s Award: “Wow, we are overwhelmed by this! We are just the same as every other family trying to make the most out of life and deal with Emilio’s hurdles as they happen.”
Georgina set up Timebank 5 years ago to bring people in St Neots together to share their skills and help each other with household jobs.
Everything that Georgina does for St Neots Timebank is on a voluntary basis, and other members describe her as being available to answer queries seven days a week, by phone, email and text.
Timebank runs lots of events; Georgina oversees all activities and groups, making sure they run smoothly and that people get along and make connections with each other. She designs and produces a monthly newsletter and publicity including liaising with local media; she attends all kinds of meetings representing Timebank in the region and nationally.
One Timebank member described Georgina as “one of the most giving people I have ever met”. The St Neots Awards judges said: “Georgina is a remarkable volunteer putting others before herself. Her dedication goes above and beyond expectations.”
After being affected by news of a family friend’s stillborn baby, Connie (aged 10) felt driven to do something positive to help.
After researching fundraising ideas on the internet, Connie decided to embark on a sponsored haircut and set up her own Just Giving page to fundraise for a cause close to her heart. She had 10 inches cut off her hair and raised over £400, which was divided equally between Connie’s two chosen charities:
The St Neots Awards judging panel described Connie has having: “exceptional awareness and sensitivity at such a young age to come up with this innovative idea, showing selfless courage.”
Mary became a volunteer for the Coffee Pot Memory Café in 2012 – a local charity in St Neots, set up by Rotary to provide friendship and social support for those affected by dementia and memory loss. Since then Mary has raised over £7,000 for the charity by organising stalls and selling crafts at local events and St Neots Farmers Market.
Mary does not drive and so has to transport stall items on foot, (by wheeling a trolley) to and from venues across town, often making more than one trip to move equipment.
Mary has been described as an “avid fundraiser, who is diligent in all she undertakes, devoting herself tirelessly to fundraising” Another supporter said “without Mary’s zeal and enthusiasm, the service and support provided to the St Neots community by the Coffee Pot Memory Cafe would not be possible.”
John Davies has served St Neots for the past two decades through his involvement with the Town Centre Initiative (TCI). From 2000 to 2016 John was chairman of the Initiative, an entirely voluntary role.
The Initiative was originally set up to provide a forum for local government, businesses, not-for-profit groups and residents to interact and work cohesively. Through the decades John has been instrumental to many local projects including St Neots “20:20 Vision” plan, the “Town Centre Prospectus”, the Priory Centre Study, the Civic Trust survey, the Jubilee Garden restoration, the installation of pedestrian sign posts, the market town benchmarking project, the new Priory waterfront charter project, the St. Neots “green corridor” project and landscaping plans for the green spaces in the Loves Farm development.
John also established and facilitated St. Neots Retail Club and the highly regarded St. Neots Manufacturing Club after the demise of St. Neots & District Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The St Neots Awards judging panel described John as: “an excellent example of prolonged, dedicated service to the town, local environment, residential & business community.”
Zac is a talented footballer and cricketer, who at the tender age of 7 was scouted to play for Cambridge United and Norwich City Football Club. Zac chose to play for Cambridge United and also continues to play for his local team, Little Paxton Colts as well as Eaton Socon Cricket Club’s under U9 youth team.
During the 2016/2017 football season, Zac made 24 appearances for Little Paxton Colts U7’s, scoring 105 competitive goals. He also captained the team in the Hunts mini League Cup final, where Little Paxton Colts won the title for the first time in the Club’s history beating Huntingdon in the final.
Zac spends a lot of time playing football with his friends and passing on skills that he has learnt. Zac remains dedicated to his local Colts team and was voted Players’ Player for the 2016/2017 season.
Zac was selected to play for Cambridge United U7’s for all of their matches last season (playing Luton Town, MK Dons, Fulham, Watford and West Brom), and scored 12 goals for them in total. Zac has now been offered a place in the Cambridge United U8’s squad for next season and will have the opportunity to work with the Academy coaches and fitness team.
During the summer months, Zac is also a Batsman and Wicket Keeper for Eaton Socon Cricket Club’s U9 team. In 2016, the team came 2nd in the Hunts league and Zac was awarded “Catch of the Season” by the club. In 2017, the team won the Eaton Socon invitation tournament and topped the table of the Hunts league.
Upon hearing he had been shortlisted as a finalist for Sports Person of the Year, Zac said: “I’m really excited about making it through to the final of the awards. I love playing football for Little Paxton and Cambridge and am looking forward to scoring more goals this season”