Not all heroes wear capes – Somerset’s community stalwarts celebrated in this year’s Chair’s Awards

Gold-hearted community heroes from across Somerset have been recognised at the latest Somerset County Council Chair’s Award for Service to the Community.

The awards-giving has been an annual event for many years and this year’s ceremony at Taunton Rugby Club was attended by 140 people, including 43 nominees from areas right across Somerset.

The award recipients were nominated by their parish and town councils for recognition of their outstanding contribution to their communities, and were presented with a signed certificate and gift by the Chair of Somerset County Council, Cllr Mike Best, followed by a buffet reception to celebrate their achievements. 

Amongst those on this year’s list of honours were Reverend Stephen Gray, a key figure in the establishment of the ‘Be a Good Neighbour Scheme’ in Crewkerne, which provided invaluable support to vulnerable residents throughout the pandemic; and the ‘silent face of Ilminster’, Roger Swann – whose good deeds are so far-reaching, they were described by his community as “hard to condense into words”.

Also celebrated at the event was Compton Dundon’s “great friend to the village”, Leslie Taylor, who sadly passed away recently and whose grandson, Harvey, was honoured to accept the award on his grandfather’s behalf. Les was an active member of the community and formerly the chairman of the parish council, village hall committee and cricket club. His nominator, Steve Lawrence, said: “His input throughout his life has provided Compton Dundon with many of the facilities it enjoys today and, young or old, members of the community continue to benefit from his work.”

Chair of Council, Cllr Mike Best, said: “It is one of the best aspects of this role, to be able to hear stories of – and recognise – dedication, hard work and selflessness from Somerset residents, who clearly love and take pride in their communities.

“In presenting Leslie Taylor’s award to his grandson, we can see just one example of the good work of our community members hopefully inspiring and influencing the younger generation.

“Every recipient has made a real difference to their communities. It is a privilege to thank them on behalf of the Council.”

Full list of winners below:

Susan & Peter Agland                        West Camel

Susan Barton                                      Otterhampton

Mike Batsch                                        Cheddon Fitzpaine

Robert Bonar                                      Selworthy

Christopher Bramall                           Stogumber

Claire Chettoe                                    Wells

Vanessa Clarke                                   Bruton

Rosie Darlaston                                  East Brent

Andraea Dawson-Shepherd               Lullington

Geoffrey Francis                                 Mark

Gill Gillott                                           Barwick & Stoford

Lyn Goodfellow                                  Cheddar

Stephen Gray                                      Crewkerne

David Gurr                                          Bishops Hull

Anthony Habberfield                          Isle Abbotts

Trisha Hands                                       Donyatt

Kathy Hedger                                     West Coker

Timothy Hiscock                                 Durston

Pauline Homeshaw                             Wiveliscombe

Keith Hunt                                          Old Cleeve

Brian Jeanes                                       North Curry

Anthony Kent                                     Trull

John Learoyd                                      Neroche

Angela Lockyer                                  Aller

Marlene Mason                                  Watchet

Catherine Mathew                              Charlton Hopethorne

Jonathan McIntosh                             Over-Stowey

Jennifer Newton                                 Evercreech

Matthew Paul                                     Chapel Allerton

Daniel Prettejohn                               Churchstanton

Christine Saint                                    Montacute

Daphne & Graham Stanbridge          Williton

Christine Steadman                            Godney

Roger Swann                                      Ilminster

Janet Tapp                                          Watchet

Leslie Taylor                                       Compton Dundon

Brian Trueman                                    Cucklington

Alan Vicary                                         Dunster

Iona White                                          Babcary

Michael Wooden                                Ash