Unsung heroes honoured at Chairman’s Awards

Taekwondo teacher Francis Miller pictured with Acting Chair of Somerset County Council Cllr Mark Keating

Selfless Somerset citizens who have gone the extra mile to support their communities have been recognised for their contributions at the Somerset County Council Chairman’s Awards.

The Chairman’s Awards were recently held at Taunton Rugby Club with 16 individuals and four groups presented with certificates and pin-badges by Somerset County Council Acting Chair Councillor Mark Keating.

Although the Chairman’s Awards are traditionally held annually, this was the first time they had been held since 2019 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The roll of honour included parish council stalwarts, dedicated volunteers, community linchpins, and even a long-serving Taekwondo teacher.

Meanwhile groups and organisations including St Margaret’s Hospice, Watchet Lifeboat Crew, Axbridge Litter Pickers, Rusty Road 2 Recovery, and Taunton Trusted Providers also received awards for their outstanding work supporting Somerset.

Acting Chair of Council, Cllr Mark Keating said: “It is always a great joy to hear the stories of the amazing work our award winners have done to support and help others. Everyone who received an award has done something remarkable and has made a real difference in their communities. It is a privilege to be able to thank them on behalf of the Council in this way.”

Full list of winners below:

Andrew Samuel – One of the founding members of the Wilton and Sherford Coronavirus Community Support Group who was instrumental in setting up a pop-up community shop during the pandemic.

Andrew Webb – A key volunteer in the Chard Covid-19 support group, helping to deliver hot meals and food from supermarkets as well as starting a prescription collection service for people who were shielding.

Angela Joy – A valued Shepton Beauchamp Parish Councillor who helped open a new store after during Covid-19 after the village shop closed. Angela was also a key fundraiser for two village defibrillators, which saved a life earlier this year. Not only this but Cllr Joy helps to run the village hall and singing group, and helps to organise the village’s Christmas family carol service.

Ann Francis – Ann was nominated because of her outstanding commitment to the NHS and in particular her work in nursing care on the Intensive Treatment Unit at Yeovil District Hospital throughout the pandemic.

Anne Hunt – Anne has been the dependable Combe St Nicholas Parish Clerk for 32 years, as well as being treasurer, secretary, and trustee of various village groups. She has co-ordinated a footpath improvement scheme, produced local walk booklets, runs a toddler group, and has co-ordinated the village Covid-19 support network.

Axbridge Litter Pickers – A group of residents led by Louise and Barry Walsh along with Malcolm and Mary Owen, who have worked tirelessly to keep the village clean and tidy.

Caroline Halfhide – Caroline has taken on the roles of Secretary to Ash Parochial Church Council, Treasurer to the Village Hall, and editor of the monthly magazine. She also used her pub facilities to stock a small shop and cook meals for vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Francis Miller – Taunton’s Francis Miller was nominated for his dedication for teaching taekwondo. He has taught in various Somerset schools and colleges, as well as to young adults leaving care, and his online classes provided physical activity as well as mental health support during the pandemic.

Graham Grief – Graham is Chairman of the Wembdon Community Association, and has spearheaded many popular events in Wembdon such as Village Day, Senior Citizens Christmas Lunch and Bingo in the Parish Centre.

Helen Cuttrell and Rose Chalke – Opened Stogursey’s Forget-Me-Not Café in 2018, providing a relaxed social setting for people with dementia along with their carers, families and friends.

Jill Champion – Jill Champion has been the postmistress in Compton Dundon for many years and has made the Post Office a valuable community asset. Jill also oversees the use of a computer and printer with internet access for residents to use as a community hub.

Mary Hossack – Mary formed the ‘Love Somerton’ group which helps to run several events in the town, including organising a Christmas Lights switch on event every year which brings thousands of people into the town.

Michael and Lesley Clark – Michael has been a respected member of Staplegrove Parish Council for 25 years and Chairman for the past 15 years. Lesley won a battle with a bus company to reinstate the use of the local bus shelter and helps to organise soup lunches as well as tea and chat afternoons for the elderly.

Natasha Fussell – Natasha is a recovery coach for Step Together and has gone above and beyond to support clients across Somerset with complex needs during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Rachel Knight – Rachel runs the Crown House B&B in Creech St Michael and set up a pop-up shop in her garden and made deliveries to help the local NHS and care home staff during the pandemic.

Rusty Road 2 Recovery – A Bridgwater-based social enterprise which aims to help people with mental wellbeing with activities such as classic car restoration, woodwork, art, and copper sculpturing.

Sally Meek – Sally was nominated for her dedicated volunteering at The Gateway Club for adults with learning needs based at the Bay Centre in Burnham-on-Sea.

St Margaret’s Hospice volunteers – Volunteers with the Hospice help support services across the community including therapies, counselling, and support for patients at home or at the inpatient unit.

Taunton Trusted Providers – This peer network of carers ensured families and their loved ones continued to get the care and support they needed throughout the pandemic lockdowns and beyond.

Theresa Torr – Theresa has worked tirelessly to make sure there is a place for homeless people to sleep in Taunton during the pandemic. Along with fellow volunteers she has cooked, washed clothes, and offered support.

Watchet Coastguard – The 11 volunteers are on call 24/7 and have expertise in coastal emergencies, first aid and casualty care. The team meets weekly and frequently supports the RNLI and Air Ambulance services.


Notes to editors

  • Image shows taekwondo teacher Francis Miller pictured with Acting Chair of Somerset County Council Cllr Mark Keating.
  • Images of the majority of award winners are available on request.

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