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How volunteer heroes keep society together
Base 33 director Claire Dowan, centre, with young mums Amber Brenchley with baby Iona Brenchley, left, and Perri Little with baby Faye McArdle at one of the charity’s sessions earlier this year
THE hard work of volunteers from towns and villages across Oxfordshire makes a big difference to communities all year round.
At this year’s Oxfordshire Charity and Volunteer Awards, 38 people who have dedicated their lives to helping others were applauded.
Ten charitable groups were also praised for achievements in each of 10 categories. The awards ceremony was held on Monday night at Oxford Town Hall.
Now in their third year, the awards are handed out by Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), which this year celebrates its 80th birthday.
Chairman Helen Baker, told the audience of 200 volunteers, friends and family: “Each year there seem to be more people involved. “Certainly the nominations and winners become more and more diverse and exciting.
“It is notable that there are still organisations appearing at a rate of knots we haven’t noticed before of real value to the county.”
Assisted Reading for Children in Oxfordshire (ARCh) won the award for management of volunteers. The charity recruits, trains and supports volunteers across Oxfordshire to inspire disadvantaged young people to love reading. It currently has 240 volunteers.
Development manager Jane Rendle said: “This award means an awful lot.
“We are accepting this on behalf of our volunteers — they are all fantastic but far too modest so we have to big them up.
“They are all enthusiastic people who inspire children to read. “This is really for them.” Friends of Radley Lakes won the Environment Award. The group’s three-year campaign to stop fuel ash from Didcot power station from being dumped in Thrupp Lake succeeded in 2008.
Since then the area has been conserved with the Earth Trust now in charge of maintaining the area around the lakes.
Chairman Roger Thomas said: “The campaign we did shows how much people value their local environment and wildlife, and what the community can do when everyone comes together.
“It recognises the good job we have done but also the value of the site for future generations.”
The awards are sponsored by 11 firms: Integration Technology, Jennings Monument Community Trust, Oxford Bus Company, Oxford Brookes University, Critchleys accountants, Seriously PR, ByBox, Hunts paper and pixels, Collaborant, Active Technology and the Midcounties Co-operative.
Witney's Base 33 is 2013's charity of the year
Thirty-one charities were nominated for awards in 10 categories. But the charity of the year for 2013 was Base 33.
For 15 years, the group has provided emotional and practical support to young people aged 13 to 24 in Witney and the local area.
It provides mentoring projects for young people and other activities. In the last year it has launched a new alcohol advisory service.
Director Claire Dowan said: “I am delighted to be recognised as the best charity and to be among people who are doing such a tremendous job in their communities. “I didn’t expect to win, so to hear it read out was a huge recognition of the work of a relatively small charity.
“Sometimes you are so busy doing the work you don’t have time to step back and see what you have done.”
The charity employs nine people, most of them part-time. It also has about 10 volunteer youth workers at any given time.
Ms Dowan added: “The youth workers are the ones on the coal face. “This award is very much a recognisition of their ability to engage with young people and work with them to find solutions for their problems and struggles.”
Anne's 14 years as a reading teacher
Thirty-eight volunteers were honoured by their groups for making an outstanding difference. One was Anne Collieu, 73, from Standlake, near Witney.
She has devoted the last 14 years of her life inspiring children to read at a school in Stanton Harcourt for Assisted Reading for Children (ARCh).
Presenting her award, Graham Upton, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, said: “She has changed the lives of children at Stanton Harcourt Community School.
“She always makes time to talk to the children, encouraging them in her own approachable way.” Mrs Collieu said the award meant a “tremendous” amount to her. My work is so rewarding to me.”
- Deborah Alexander, Home Start Banbury and Chipping Norton
- Fran Bennett, Agnes Smith Advice Centre
- Les Bishop, National Trails Thames Path
- Joyce Burrows, Sue Ryder, Nettlebed
- Jamie Clark, Rose Hill Regeneration
- Anne Collieu, ARCh
- Judy Dewey, Wallingford Museum
- Yvonne Fearon, Helen & Douglas House
- Amanda Ford, Abingdon Vale Swimming Club
- Sue Fulford, Archway
- Avis Gallager, WRVS
- Florence Galliford, Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary
- Jenny Gough, Banbury WEA
- James Guring, Quebec Company, Oxfordshire ACF
- Sue Harris, Restore
- Audrey Holmes, Cherwell and Community Voluntary Service
- Andy Howells, Action for Children Witney Children’s Centre
- Karen Irvani, Parents Talking Aspergers
- Andy Law, My Life My Choice
- Kiran Kaur Malhotra, Museum of Oxford
- Shaun McIlroy, A2Dominion Simon House
- Peter Mobbs, Earth Trust
- Jocelyn Morris, Oxfordshire County Council – Skills and Learning Service
- Lesley Newland, St John’s Home
- Jim O’Kane, Oxford Homeless Pathways
- Barbara Oster, Trax
- Jill Parker, Parent Partnership Oxfordshire
- Wayne Richmond, Yellow Submarine
- Joe Robinson, JR4JR
- Pat Ross, Oxfordshire Mind
- Icolyn Smith, Oxford Community Soup Kitchen
- Andrew Stokes, Witney Buttercross Scout Group
- Pearl Watts, Dogs for the Disabled
- Anna Webster, Jacari
- Fiona Wellstood, Reading Quest incorporating Numeracy Quest
- Alan Wharton, Oxford & District Branch Parkinson’s UK
- Anjella Wilson, Eve Women’s Wellbeing Project
The Active Technology Lifetime Achievement Award: Sobell House is a hospice that has delivered specialist palliative care to patients and families affected by life-limiting illnesses for 37 years.
The Jennings and Monument Community Trust Best New Group: Cultivate is a co-operative social enterprise working to bring people together around food through growing fruit and veg, trading with other producers and getting people involved in the co-operative by education, volunteering and events.
The Hunts Best Fundraising Award: Osney Lock Hydro was set up by local residents to enable develop a community-owned hydro scheme in Oxford to generate renewable energy, and funds for environmental projects.
The Oxford Bus Company Environmental Award: Friends of Radley Lakes seeks to represent everyone who values the lakes area of outstanding beauty, fundraise for a new visitor centre and support conservation in the area and other wildlife corridors.
The Management of Volunteers Award: Assisted Reading for Children (ARCh) trains volunteers to impart a love of reading to disadvantaged primary school children via personalised mentoring support.
The Critchleys Working Together Award: Reading Quest (incorporating Numeracy Quest) is an educational charity which supports children, mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has collaborated with the private sector to launch a global trading arm by making literacy and numeracy apps.
The By Box Best Community Project Award: Talking Shop is a group of Sandford residents working to bring a community shop and café to the village to help bring down social barriers and form friendships across generations.
The Best Promotional Campaign Award: Oxford Preservation Trust raised public awareness of the Painted Room in Cornmarket Street, where Shakespeare had stayed, through a civic event bringing together the community to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday.
The Collaborent Best Team of Volunteers Award: Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC) provides independent specialist support for women and girls in Oxfordshire who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives.
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