Debbie Abbott – Volunteer of the Year

At the end of September 2017, the St Neots Awards recognised a number of local individuals and community groups for their positive impact and achievements. We’ve been on a journey to follow them over the past six months, finding out more about them and to seeing how things have evolved since their awards recognition. This will be the last article in our current series, with more exciting ideas and plans arranged for the coming months.

The winner of our 2017 Volunteer of the Year award was Debbie Abbott, an Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife at Hinchingbrooke Hospital; who additionally volunteers as a Breastfeeding Counsellor in her free time. Volunteering for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) allows Debbie to support new mothers struggling to breastfeed with additional advice and assistance; a voluntary role she has undertaken for the last 15 years. Debbie also runs a weekly drop in clinic at Eaton Socon Children’s Centre supporting mothers in the local community and those who travel from as far afield as Ramsey and Cambridge City Centre.

Debbie decided to become a breastfeeding counsellor after she had her first son who will be 34 this year. Debbie herself spoke with a lovely breastfeeding counsellor on the phone who reassured and empowered her to continue breastfeeding. This call inspired Debbie and made her want to be able to do the same for other mothers in the same position as she was.

Debbie additionally conducts home visits within St Neots and also provides assistance day and night via telephone to mothers facing challenges with breastfeeding. Debbie has been described as being “incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers”.

Debbie doesn’t have any plans to stop doing either of her roles in the near future as she loves them both. In her role as an Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife, Debbie is proud to announce that the maternity unit at Hinchingbrooke has just been awarded the very prestigious Baby Friendly Accreditation which recognises best practice standards related to infant feeding. This is a world renowned award supported by UNICEF that Debbie and her team have been working towards for the past seven years.

Debbie was credited at the 2017 St Neots Awards for supporting hundreds of local mothers over the last 15 years. Motherhood can be difficult journey for some and having experienced individuals like Debbie on hand in the local community helps to make that journey less stressful for those who may need some extra support. 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.”

Speaking about winning the St Neots Awards and what 2018 holds for her, Debbie Abbott said: “I still can’t believe that firstly I was nominated and secondly was selected as the winner, it makes me feel so very proud every time I think about it. The lovely testimonials that mothers took the time to write really touched my heart and some even made me cry! 2018 will see me continue to offer local mothers support in whatever way I can.”

Debbie’s drop-in sessions run weekly at Eaton Socon Children’s Centre from 11:30-13:00 on Tuesdays. Additionally, sessions also run at the centre on the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 9:30-11:30. Find out more here.

St Neots Awards will make a welcome return to the town in 2019.

Falcon Flames – Sports Club of the Year

At the end of September 2017, the St Neots Awards recognised a number of local individuals and community groups for their positive impact and achievements. We’re on a journey to follow them over the coming months, to find out more about them and to see how things have evolved since their awards recognition.

Winner of our 2017 Sports Club of the Year award was Falcon Flames, a cheerleading club established by experienced cheerleader Emily Wright ten years ago. Originating in the United States, Cheerleading has now grown in popularity around the world over the past 20 years. Its inclusive nature, enables people of all ages to be active, have fun, share aspirations and work as a team to achieve goals. Falcon Flames has seen phenomenal growth over the past ten years and now offers a range of classes including cheer for fun, cheer for minis, cheer for juniors, cheer for adults, stunt, and dance.

Having been involved in Cheerleading throughout University, Emily wanted to share her love of the sport with as many people as possible. With the support of mum Bridget, Emily began Falcon Flames. Nowadays the club is led by Emily and her sister-in-law Gemma Wright both of whom have relevant qualifications in Cheerleading and safety procedures, ensuring the club is well led and managed. Gemma herself developed her love of cheerleading originally through participating in Emily’s senior class. After having two little girls and both finding a love of the sport, Gemma decided to get her coaching qualifications and actively grow the club alongside Emily.

Falcon Flames were credited at the 2017 St Neots Awards for their efforts in building children’s self-esteem and confidence, encouraging teamwork and celebrating all levels of achievement amongst their members. The club organise a yearly show at the Priory Centre to showcase their member’s skills and improvements throughout the year. Some members compete in national competitions and have been highly successful; with Falcon Flames receiving a variety of trophies ranging from 5th to 1st place. Closer to home, the club supports local events including the annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

Speaking about the winning the St Neots Awards and what 2018 holds ahead for the club, Emily of Falcon Flames said: “We were so honored to receive this award and it is all down to the hard work the team and cheerleaders have put in over the last 10 years. 2018 has already seen us grow our numbers and increase our classes, excitingly adding in adult cheerleading. We have started competing already and are now building towards our showcase in March and a further two competitions later in the year. We want to continue to grow and develop what we offer and are always looking for enthusiastic adults and children who want to be part of a fantastic team.

Are you looking to get more active this year? Or thinking about taking up a new hobby in 2018? Why not give Cheerleading a try? Falcon Flames provides classes for all ages from five years upwards, suitable for everyone. Taking place on Monday and Thursday evenings, sessions are held at Crosshall Junior School. The club has recently started running adult classes which run from 8:15-9pm on Monday evenings. To learn more about Falcon Flames or to get involved, visit the Falcon Flames Facebook page or email falconflames@outlook.com

Georgina Corley – Highly Commended Volunteer of the Year

At the end of September 2017, the St Neots Awards recognised a number of local individuals and community groups for their positive impact and achievements. We’re on a journey to follow them over the coming months, to find out more about them and to see how things have evolved for them since their awards recognition.

Highly commended for our 2017 Volunteer of the Year award was Georgina Corley, a local St Neots Great Grandmother who has spent a substantial amount of her time over the past six years running St Neots TimeBank. TimeBanking UK  is a national charity and a way for local communities to share their knowledge and skills and be rewarded for it – with time. For every one hour volunteered you can claim back the same amount. Known as credits – these can then be saved up for those jobs you can’t manage or don’t have the skills or time for. In St Neots TimeBank has reached 200 members, with volunteers supporting each other in the local community with activities from gardening and learning new languages to reflexology and cooking. Visit the St Neots TimeBank website to see the many activities TimeBank volunteers can help with.

Everything that Georgina does for St Neots TimeBank is voluntary; running events, activities and groups, making sure everything runs smoothly, that people get along and make connections with each other. Georgina designs and produces a monthly newsletter and organises publicity with local media, and attends all kinds of meetings representing TimeBank in the region and nationally, to showcase the wide variety of work she undertakes all for the St Neots community.

Founded over 20 years ago, there are over 250 TimeBanks around the UK, supporting local communities. Timebanking was introduced to the UK from America by a distinguished legal professor. St Neots TimeBank was launched in March 2012, coordinated by Georgina from the start and funded originally by Luminus Housing Association.

Discussing her work for TimeBank and the upcoming plans for 2018 Georgina said: “At my age and being disabled, TimeBanking has given me a unique opportunity for volunteering to help others that also can’t manage certain tasks. Elderly and those that are isolated believe they have nothing to give back – but everyone has something – even a phone call can make someone feel less isolated and part of a community.”

“St Neots TimeBank, gives me an opportunity to reach out to other groups and assist the wider community, to deal with isolation, assist the vulnerable and work alongside other statutory bodies. For me the many comments of thanks and appreciation when a job is complete is payment enough. None of this could have been achieved without help given by the Town Council with our administration costs.”

Georgina has confirmed that TimeBank will continue holding their monthly coffee morning, which includes a ‘Pamper Day’ and ‘Gardening Day’, with 100’s of plants for sale grown by members. TimeBank are also holding a Sign Language Course once again and are planning to soon start Ceroc dancing sessions. Why not make 2018 the year you give back to the local community in St Neots? Donate an hour of your time and receive an hour back to support you in return, or exchange that hour for Time Credits. To learn more about St Neots TimeBank or to get involved, visit their website or phone 07590909057.

Alexis Ellison, Fundraiser of the Year

At the end of September, the St Neots Awards recognised a number of local individuals and community groups for their impact and achievements. We’re set to follow them over the comings months, to find out more about them and to see how things have evolved for them since their awards recognition.

The recipient of our 2017 Fundraiser of the Year award is Alexis Ellison (known as Lex), a local St Neots Dad who has spent the past two years fundraising for his 5 year old son Samson. Samson was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2015 and since then Lex has tirelessly been fundraising and trying to raise awareness about the national charity Action Duchenne. As a charity, Action Duchenne drives forward research into finding a cure for the progressive, life-limiting condition, in the hope of helping sufferers affected by muscular dystrophy and their families.

Muscular Dystrophy, is a muscle weakening and wasting genetic condition that often begins by affecting one specific muscle group, before spreading and affecting muscles more extensively.  Eventually the condition becomes life-threatening, with the muscles used for breathing and the heart being affected. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, is one of the most severe and common forms of the condition. It usually only affects males, beginning in childhood. Men with the condition usually only live into their 20s or 30s. There are around 2500 boys living with Duchenne in the UK at any one time.

Lex already has a wide assortment of fundraising events under his belt including 300 mile bike ride from Newcastle to London which he rode in 27 hours, a free fall jump from 10,000ft and taking part in the Parallel London race (the world’s first fully inclusive, mass participation event) where he pushed Samson in his wheelchair over 10kms.

Lex has no plans of stopping his unbelievable fundraising efforts anytime soon. Lex has already got his fundraising plans ready for 2018 where he is looking to take part in World’s Toughest Mudder. Taking place over the pond in Atlanta, Georgia, the endurance race consists of a 5 mile obstacle course, which participants must complete as many laps as possible in 8 hours. Lex previously entered World’s Toughest Mudder in 2015 and 2016 in the Nevada desert. Additionally, Lex has also signed up to Red Bull’s Neptune’s Steps 2018, an open water race taking place in March in Glasgow. Lex will swim through 420m of cold water in the Forth & Clyde canal, whilst climbing up seven canal lock gates, in total climbing over 18m.

When not taking part in physical, exhausting challenges, Lex can often be found donning a homemade sandwich board and walking the streets of St Neots and Norwich to raise awareness of Action Duchenne. So far, Lex’s efforts have raised over £3,000 for the charity and have provided immeasurable profile. In his most recent effort, Lex and a team of Action Duchenne volunteers took to the street of St Neots for the first time collecting money, which resulted in the team collectively raising over £800 for the charity in just a few short hours!

Discussing his previous fundraising, and plans for 2018 Lex said: “These last few months haven’t been easy. I’ve fundraised before for charities I felt passionately about, including Centrpoint, a charity who supports the homeless.  But now I find myself raising funds and awareness on a totally personal level. I love talking to people and telling our story, but always have a huge dose of melancholy afterwards. It’s hugely emotionally draining, having a positive facade but being dark inside.

“My plans for 2018 are to continue to raise the profile of Action Duchenne and Strong for Samson, and to be at the forefront of our cause. Doing what any parent would do with an ill child, and do what I can to make a difference. Also to continue to devote my free time to my whole family and make the most of every day. Stop procrastinating and live life to the max.”

To donate to Action Duchenne visit their website

For more information on Lex’s son Samson, and to follow all Lex’s fundraising efforts for 2018 onwards, like the Facebook page Strong for Samson

Bell Brothers to switch on Christmas Lights

Thomas and Charlie Bell

St Neots Town Council is delighted to announce that this year’s Christmas lights are to be switched on by a special pair of local brothers.  Highly commended at the 2017 St Neots Awards, Thomas and Charlie Bell will be getting the town well and truly ready for Christmas on Sunday 26th November.

At the end of September, the St Neots Awards recognised a number of local individuals and community groups for their impact and achievements. We’re set to follow them over the comings months, to find out more about them and to see how things have evolved for them since their awards recognition.

First up, we share more about Thomas and Charlie – two brothers who were finalists for The Mayor’s Award 2017. The category was devised to recognise people within the town who have overcome adversity or faced up with courage to life’s hardships and challenges. The brothers received their nomination as they are young carers for their Mum, Sarah. Dealing with both physical and emotional difficulties, Sarah has undergone numerous surgeries due to chronic Crohn’s disease, which has left her with extreme fatigue and needing daily medication. She additionally suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, meaning she is in a lot of pain all the time.

As young carers; the boys take on numerous roles not many children their age have to experience, helping regularly around the house with activities such as cooking and cleaning. Discussing the support the boys provide, Sarah Bell said: “The boys are a big help to me with the general day to day chores they undertake, alongside helping to care for me which at the ages of 10 and 11 is a big responsibility to them. I can’t thank them enough for all their help and support, I owe them a lot more than most.”

As young carers, Thomas and Charlie have also helped raise awareness of young carers in the region, by supporting Carers Trust Cambridgeshire. The boys have helped out on information stands at events collecting donations and have assisted the charity with identifying hidden carers in the community. Closer to home in the St Neots community, the boys have also spoken publicly at school assemblies about their experiences in being young carers.

Speaking about Thomas and Charlie, Maegan Smith, Young Carers Support Co-Ordinator from Carers Trust Cambridgeshire said “It is an absolute pleasure to have the boys engage with our young carers project. They are a delight to work with and always eagerly engage with everything we offer them. They are an absolute credit to their parents. The boys never complain about their caring role and only see it in a positive light. They show so much commitment and enthusiasm throughout their caring roles to ensure their Mum is always as comfortable as possible. The award they were highly commended for earlier this year, truly recognises the hard work they do and they couldn’t deserve it more.”

As model residents in the local community, the boys were so excited to be asked to have the honour of turning the Christmas lights on. According to mum Sarah “They think they are celebrities now! We feel that this is a small reward for all their hard work helping me and hope it encourages more children to help their parents and raise awareness for young carers in St Neots and other areas.”

The St Neots Christmas lights will be switched on at 5PM Sunday 26th November. The event looks to be as popular as ever with festive fun and entertainment guaranteed for all the family from 12PM. Live music and performances, street entertainers, Santa’s grotto, Christmas Market, hot food, funfair and more! Find out more information about the Christmas lights switch on Facebook @stneotschristmaslights

2017 Awards Winners

After over 5000 votes this year from the local community and surrounding areas, your winners for the 2017 St Neots Awards have been announced! In what was a fabulous evening celebrating our wonderful community, guests were treated to a fantastic three course meal, live entertainment from Lawrence Hill and disco!

We’d like to say a big thank you to the Awards team at St Neots Town Council along with our key supporters Black Cat 107!

If you missed all the action live on the night why not relive the live content via Facebook and Twitter! Lastly we’d like to send a big thank you to all our wonderful sponsors who so kindly supported this year’s event. Your 2017 winners in full below…

 

Fundraiser of the Year – sponsored by Rexroth Bosch Group

Alexis Ellison

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Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Leeds Day Solicitors 

Debbie Abbott

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Sports Person of the Year – sponsored by Hunt & Coombs Solicitors

Erin Hall

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Community Group/Project of the Year – sponsored by Lovett Sales & Letting

Riverside Miniature Railway

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Sports Group/Club of the Year – sponsored by Giggs & Company

Falcon Flames

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Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by Anchor Trust

Trevor Gunton

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The Mayor’s Award – sponsored by the Mayor of St Neots

Sam & Liam Smith

 

We hope you have enjoyed following the awards this year!

With best wishes from

The St Neots Awards Team

2017 Finalists Announced

After some tough deliberations from the shortlisting panel, we are delighted to announce to 2017 finalists for the St Neots Awards.  We’d like to say a big thank you to all those who nominated individuals and groups this year, it was a real treat for our judges to read all the fantastic entries, making their decision even more difficult.

2017 St Neots Awards Shortlist

Fundraiser of the Year – sponsored by Rexroth Bosch Group 

A. Alexis Ellison
B. Mary D’Cruz
C. Connie Hutchinson

The Mayor’s Award – sponsored by the Mayor of St Neots 

A.Sam & Liam Smith
B. Saavedra Family
C. Thomas & Charlie Bell

Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Leeds Day Solicitors

A.Debbie Abbott
B. Emma Stevens
C. Georgina Corley

Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by Anchor Trust 

A. John Davies
B. Ken Minney
C. Trevor Gunton

Sports Person of the Year – sponsored by Hunt & Coombs Solicitors 

A. Erin Hall
B. Zac Taylor

Sports Group/Club of the Year – sponsored by Giggs & Company   

A. Falcon Flames
B. St Neots Rowing Club
C. Spartans

Community Group/Project of the Year – sponsored by Lovett Sales & Letting 

A. Riverside Miniature Railway
B. Roundhouse Capacity Campaign
C. Vir2oso

More information on our finalists, why they’ve been shortlisted and how to vote for your preferred category winners – coming soon!

If you have any comments regarding this year’s nomination process the St Neots Awards team would love your feedback. Please email any comments to Katie.Williams@stneots-tc.gov.uk

Latest Sponsors

Nominations for St Neots Awards are coming in thick and fast. With just over a month left until nominations close, time is running out to nominate. If you know an individual who has achieved something outstanding or a not for profit group operating in St Neots to benefit the local community then nominate them now. Download and complete the Nomination Form

We are delighted to announce Lovett Sales and Lettings are sponsors for the Community Group/Project of the Year category and Anchor Trust, representing Nelson’s Lodge Care Home in St Neots are the sponsors for our new Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Mayor of St Neots is supporting our new Mayor’s Award, which recognises individuals who have overcome adversity or helped others who have faced significant challenges. St Neots Awards campaign is inclusive and we invite nominations for people of all ages. The only stipulation is that they live or operate in St Neots to benefit the local community.

Categories still available for sponsorship are:

  • Fundraiser of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Good Neighbour of the Year
  • Sports Person of the Year
  • Sports Club of the Year

Sponsorship benefits include a table for 8 guests to attend the Gala Awards dinner on 29 September, accreditation in all printed and online communications about the event, the opportunity to appear on Black Cat 107FM and more. Find out more by reading our sponsorship pack.

 

2017 Website goes live

2016 St Neots Award winners announced

The winners of the second annual St Neots Community & Business Awards were announced on Saturday 8th October.  The awards programme, presented by St Neots Town Council, was developed in 2015 to recognise the achievements of individuals, community groups and businesses within the town.

Over 100 guests attended the gala dinner ceremony at The Priory Centre on Saturday 8th October, hosted by Ernie Almond from Black Cat Radio and Alissa King-Underwood, the current Miss Cambridgeshire.  The winners of eight categories were announced on the night.

Person of the Year, sponsored by Giggs and Co, was awarded to Ross Williams-Gick, Community Champion at Tesco St Neots. Ross was recognised for his community and charity focussed commitments across the town. Nominators particularly mentioned the summer 2016 Family Fun Day that Ross developed – attended by thousands and raising nearly £6000 for the charities and community groups that attended. Robert Usher, Lawn in Order gardening maintenance services was also Highly Commended in this category for his recent act of generosity for an elderly couple who were deceived out of some money for gardening services. Robert offered to provide the services free of charge and gave the couple back their faith in human nature.

Young Person of the Year, sponsored by Rexroth Bosch Group was awarded to Joseph Sydes – an inspiring young man who was last year diagnosed with cancer and fought against all the odds to recover. Despite undergoing intensive chemotherapy and being very ill he continued his school work in hospital and achieved very successful end of year results. His positive attitude and determination to succeed has been key to overcoming the ‘Big C’. Sean Best was also highly commended in this category for his care and bravery as a young carer for his little sister Mya-Louise, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  Matt Giggs, owner and Managing Director of Giggs and Co was so inspired by Sean’s story he heard on the night, he pledged a donation of £1000 to help Sean start Mya’s Trust – the charity that the 13 year old wants to set up in memory of his sister.

Charity / Community Group of the year, sponsored by The Co-operative funeralcare, Central England Co-operative was awarded to Switch Now CIC – a new initiative that works with young adults with learning difficulties / disabilities; providing supported training and work experiences to develop employability skills, with the objective to be ‘work ready’. A key project is a community café staffed by the young adults who benefit from this group. The group works tirelessly to provide a cheerful and friendly environment, helping to break down the stigma associated with disabled people.  The team behind the St Neots Fire Engine Pull, Dave Webster and Steve Wills, were also Highly Commended in this category. The annual event is well known across the town and has already raised in excess of £140,000; funding camps for Young Burns Survivors up to the age of 19.

Teacher of the Year, sponsored by Rexroth Bosch Group was awarded to Reg Searle, Musical Director of St Neots Orchestra and Choral Society. Starting the society over 35 years ago, Reg was acknowledged for his ongoing commitment both in time and passion; giving enormous amounts of time to choosing and planning the programmes, rehearsing with the groups weekly and continually encouraging young talent.

Business of the Year, jointly sponsored by Beacon Wealth Management and Jeffrey Mills Solicitors was awarded to Peppercorns Academy in recognition of their long established community focussed tuition. A family business, and founded in the early 1980’s, the team was specifically put forward for their caring approach and the excellent example they set as role models for their students.  The business was also recognised and thanked for their ongoing contribution to performing at local community initiatives. Katy North Academy of Dance & Cheer was also highly commended in this category – having been nominated in light of their local charity support and the provision of lessons for anyone aged four and up, regardless of ability and disability. The academy was also recognised in light of their recent launch of the first local wheelchair dance class for both children and adults.

Employer of the Year, sponsored by Huntingdonshire Regional College was awarded to the local Chartered Surveying and Planning practice Barfords + Co. With a 40 year history, Barfords + Co continue to demonstrate an exemplary commitment to the professional and personal development of their employees – investing in staff to achieve professional qualifications as well as supporting employees in college courses through distance learning.

Sports Team / Club of the Year, sponsored by Goldstraw Goldsmiths was awarded to New Saints Boxing Club.  The not for profit family run business has not even been established for a year – but the family behind it have worked tirelessly to get the club off the ground in their spare time. The club has gone from strength to strength in just over a year, encouraging children and adults of all ages and abilities to take up their sport. Working in partnership with Cambridgeshire Police they have also set a class dedicated to young people who have been involved with anti-social behaviour.  The St Neots Dragon Boat Team were also highly commended in this category in recognition of the impact this team have had over the past 12 months – with group members representing Team GB in the European Championships, the club hosting league events as well as co-organising the St Neots Charity Dragon Boat festival; providing training to all crews who took part in the event.

Sports Person of the Year category (individual or coach), sponsored by Barretts of St Neots was awarded to Scott Thomas. Despite a difficult medical history, Scott was driven to achieve sporting success – initially as a swimmer and a runner and now as an elite triathlete. Alongside this he coaches younger swimmers, inspiring them to reach the best of their ability. Whilst training for triathlons and running his swimming teaching sessions, Scott also achieved six As and an A* in his GCSEs. Kevin Bullus from New Saints Boxing Club was also highly commended in this category in recognition of his complete dedication to coach children and adults in six of his seven evenings each week.

Over 100 nominations were received for the 2016 St Neots Awards, reiterating the number of individuals, community groups and businesses that have made a clear impact in the town. Speaking about the awards programme and the evening event, St Neots Town Mayor Cllr Derek Giles said

“I was both delighted and humbled to recognise such a worthy group of award winners and finalists in our 2016 award ceremony.  St Neots residents and local businesses really do achieve fantastic things – and this year’s awards gave us the chance to say thank you and well done.”