The founder of a support group and a village community group have been named as the first two winners of the inaugural Somerset Community Resilience Award.
Sarah Kanah-ah, who set up Somerset Anxiety Support, and volunteers for St John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross, won the individual award.
Stoke St Gregory’s Heart of the Village project won the group award for turning their local pub into a hub for all community activity.
Both winners were presented with a large hamper of Somerset produce worth more than £100 at a ceremony held in West Monkton Village Hall on Somerset’s annual Community Resilience Day (Thursday, October 13).
The Somerset Community Resilience Award was set up by the Somerset Prepared partnership to celebrate groups and individuals who have made a difference in their community, and gone above and beyond to help them to be better prepared for an emergency.
Candidates were nominated by the public, with entries judged by Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant for Somerset, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Communities, and David Welch from Rotary International.
Sarah Kanah-ah said: “I feel so happy to have won the Community Resilience Award. I didn’t start any of the work that I do for public recognition, but instead to help those in need in the community, especially those who struggle with their mental health and survivors of abuse.
“Being a survivor of abuse myself, my lifelong mission is to reach out to anyone in an abusive situation to give them hope, and be that symbol of strength to those far and wide.”
Tim Slattery, from Heart of the Village, said: “The project has fostered a greater sense of connection, spurring villagers to volunteer to help others in the community. It really is an example of community resilience in action.”
Cllr Smith-Roberts said: “It’s been a privilege to see some of the extraordinary work that Somerset’s volunteer heroes are doing out there. We had nominations for both individuals and groups, so we decided to make one award for each of those categories.
“Everyone on the shortlist would have been a worthy winner, but we particularly wanted to celebrate some of the people who have had less recognition for their work and who have made a lasting impact.”
Five candidates were shortlisted, all of whom have made an outstanding contribution to their communities.
Other shortlisted candidates were Nobby Kerton from Chilton Cantelo, who helps protect the village from flooding, Gordon Swindells of the Martock Flood Group, and John Hardy, who set up the Bridgwater Hub. They all received a certificate and small bag of gifts.
The Somerset Prepared partnership includes the Somerset Local Authorities’ Civil Contingencies Unit, Environment Agency, Avon and Somerset Police, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Somerset Rivers Authority, Somerset Rotary, SWAST, Spark, Red Cross and Safe South West.
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Notes to editors
‘Somerset Community Resilience Awards’ – L to R – Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Tim Slattery from the Heart of the Village project, Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Sarah Kanah-ah, David Welch Rotary Club International.
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