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Community Champion Awards - 2022 Winners

The Community Champion Awards are an opportunity to say thank you to people who have done something special for their local community and honour those individuals and community groups who have gone above and beyond to support residents throughout West Berkshire this year. 

We're delighted to announce that our 2022 Community Champions are:

  • Junior Citizen of the Year: Swara Dasarwar 
  • Volunteer of the Year: Sarah Johnson
  • Community Group of the Year: Purley Sustainability Group
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Mike Warner

The judges were impressed with the quality of nominations. As a result, there were several Highly Commended nominees in the Volunteer of the Year, Community Group of the Year and Lifetime Achievement categories.

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The winners will receive their awards at our awards ceremony. Their details will also be recorded in the "Roll of Civic Awards", which will be available for future generations to review. The book will be available to view at the Market Street Council Offices.

Junior Citizen of the Year

Swara Dasarwar - Winner

During the summer of 2022, Swara helped set up a Charity Coffee Morning in Newbury Town Hall, where proceeds from this event helped to provide toys and equipment for the pupils at Castle School. The group managed to raise a staggering £1,650.

As well as contributing to our wider community, Swara is active within her school as a prefect and gives up her time to support other events within Trinity School.

Volunteer of the Year

Sarah Johnson - Winner

Sarah began volunteering for Step by Step in July 2017 and has volunteered as an emergency bed host where she supports West Berkshire with any Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) needing immediate accommodation once they arrive in the country.

Sarah would open her door with a much-needed warm smile welcoming asylum-seeking children into her home and providing the much-needed care and protection. She also helps these children adapt to their new home by helping to buy clothes, register with a GP, and helps them learn English.

Claire Jones - Highly Commended

Claire Jones was considered the driving force behind the Inkpen Pavilion Project, which opened in 2022.

The project involved organising planning permission, obtaining community support, fundraising and overseeing the site. Claire was considered the main reason why the building of the pavilion was successful. The project took four years to complete and raised a staggering £500,000.

Nicola Swan - Highly Commended

Nicola volunteered as a Community First Responder, where she averaged 30 hours a week and from November 2021 to October 2022, Nicola logged 1444.5 hours which was 84% of the total coverage for the responder team.

In addition to emergency response, Nicola gave talks, trained others and provided medical assistance at community events.

Finally, Nicola was instrumental in developing a process that reduced the overwhelming queues at the local pharmacy during the lockdown and organised the rota for marshals at the flu and COVID-19 jab at the local surgery. 

Community Group of the Year

Purley Sustainability Group - Winner

Purley Sustainability Group was founded on 28 February 2020. They perform functions such as encouraging Active Travel, improving water quality, initiating, co-organising and promoting a discounted solar panel scheme; finally, the group created a monthly repair cafe with the local community café where they aim to repair old items and much more.

On the whole, Purley Sustainability Group is committed to creating a more sustainable Purley on Thames, developing relationships between residents, helping the planet at a local level and finally working collectively with other local, sustainable initiatives for the common good of the environment.

Phoenix Lacrosse Club - Highly Commended

Phoenix Lacrosse Club came into being when one of the few state schools in the UK to play lacrosse, St Bartholomew's School, Newbury, decided to stop competing in the sport.

Phoenix Lacrosse Club had 66 members, aged 11-18 years, and had played over 600 hours of sport, including over 47 matches and four tournaments against other schools. The club has raised the profile of lacrosse locally and provided a hardship fund to help those compete who otherwise could not.

As well as attracting numerous members, the club trained four coaches, an umpire and several first aiders.

The club has had numerous successes, notably winning Division One of the South West Schools Tournament in October 2022.

All of this had been achieved within one year. 

Cold Ash FC Highly Commended

Since 2004, Cold Ash FC provide grassroots football to children of all abilities and backgrounds and recently launched Cold Ash Girls FC to enable girls to participate in the sport.

The group worked with schools in football development and did some fundraising with Greenham Trust for a project to bring more girls into football.

In 2022 Cold Ash FC provided football for over 300 children, all supported by 45 volunteers.

The club also supported Duke of Edingburgh children by allowing them to volunteer alongside qualified coaches who are all from the local communities.

Lifetime Achievement

Mike Warner - Winner

Mike Warner retired from Padworth Parish Council after 42 years, with the last five years as Chairman. Mike is also an active member of the Padworth Common Committee for 44 years, where he was secretary for 25 years and ten years as Chairman.

Mike is also a regular monthly contributor to the Parish Newsletter on gardening and country matters and is also in charge of the local Neighbourhood Watch and a member of the Neighbourhood Advisory Group for the last 30 years.

Mike spent five years as church warden, 30 years as sidesman and finally became a Police volunteer for six years to keep Mortimer Police Station active for as long as possible.

Rita Curran - Highly Commended

Rita has been involved in scouting within West Berkshire for decades. She is currently running the 95th Tilehurst Group, cubs and scouts. She trained new leaders whenever needed and helped to re-open the group, which was initially operated from her home.

The scout group was involved in fundraising events furthering her positive impact on the community.

Robin Strapp - Highly Commended

Robin had been the Director and Producer of Newbury Youth Theatre for 35 years. During that time, he helped hundreds of young people enjoy and take part in theatre.

Robin brought the Newbury Youth Theatre to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which would have proudly represented Newbury on the national theatre/arts stage.

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