That’s the spirit

Here’s the living proof that community spirit is NOT dead and buried throughout Bath and North East Somerset. The announcement of the winners of awards that recognise people who have made a positive contribution to their communities in the district.

Twelve individuals and organisations were presented with a Community Award at a special ceremony at Henrietta Park in Bath .

The award includes seven blossom trees being planted for the winners that will help extend the green canopy across the district.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Community Awards 2022/23 champion ‘unsung heroes’ who make a difference in their communities and support others.

The cherry trees were planted at Henrietta Park, which as they mature will host an impressive spring blossom display each year to enhance the site and provide a permanent central location to mark the winners’ outstanding achievements.

A total of 60 nominations in seven categories were received for the awards, which this year included two new categories for town and parish councillors of the year.

Councillor Shaun Stephenson-McGall, Chair of the Council, who presented the awards, said: “It’s inspiring to hear about the contribution all the nominees have made to their communities and there have been some striking tales of people who go above and beyond to support others. I’m delighted that this year there will be a lasting tribute to the winners in the form of these beautiful blossom trees, which not only mark their achievements but also contribute to tackling the climate emergency. Congratulations to the twelve winners and thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate your local hero.”

The winners are: 

  • The Beryl Dixon Community Leader of the Year

Winner – Penny McKissock, Southside Family Project

  • Volunteer of the Year 

Joint Winner – David Musgrave, Oasis Pantry

Joint Winner – John Harvey, Mentoring Plus

Joint Winner – Kathleen Still, Age UK B&NES

  • Volunteer Team of the Year

Winner – Bravo Medics Volunteer Critical Care Consultants

  • Young Volunteer Team of the Year

Winner – Students’ Union Nightline – Kashiv Mishra

  • Charity of the Year 

Winner – Youth Connect South West

  • Green Business Leader 

Winner – The Community Farm

  • Chairs Special Recognition Award for Service to the Community

Winner – SWALLOW

  • Outstanding Young Person

Winner – Will Lakey

  • The Peter Duppa-Miller Award for Town Councillor of the Year 

Winner – Councillor Steve Plumley, Midsomer Norton.

  • The Peter Duppa-Miller Award for Parish Councillor of the Year

Winner – Councillor Robert Helland, South Stoke.

The Community Awards are organised by the council in partnership with: 

  • The Student Community Partnership
  • HCRG Care Group
  • Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire Integrated Care Board.  
  • The Third Sector Group 
  • Curo Housing 

Photo L-R: Kathleen Still, Age UK; John Harvey, Mentoring Plus; two representatives from University of Bath’s Students Union Nightline; Will Lakey, Young Person of the Year; Cllr Shaun Stephenson-McGall; Justin Ricards, Swallow; Dr Mark Tehan, Bravo Medics; David Musgrave, Oasis Pantry; Penny McKissock, Southside Family Project; Kim Brooks, The Community Farm; Cllr Steve Plumley, Midsomer Norton Town Council; Tracey Pike, Youth Connect SW

Nomination details of the winners:

The Beryl Dixon Community Leader of the Year is awarded to Penny McKissock

Penny McKissock founded Southside Family Project twenty-five years ago and has been a tireless champion of the disadvantaged communities of Bath and North East Somerset for even longer. She managed Whiteway Health Project for five years before setting up Southside and was a Community Development Worker in Peasedown St John for six years before that.

Penny’s community leadership and influence is significant at both a local and national level. She plays a key role in the Domestic Abuse Partnership Board and other local networks and collaborations. Penny’s work through Southside has also been used as examples nationally to understand how best to work with communities, individuals and families affected by trauma as a result of abuse, violence, and neglect.

Penny’s impact has, from the ground up, forged tangible, positive change across the generations in the challenged communities and hidden pockets of significant disadvantage, within which Southside works. She continues to lead this change and is working closely with partners across all sectors to ensure that our communities can respond to overcome the significant challenges of food and fuel poverty growing through this this cost-of-living crisis.

The Volunteers of the Year category has awarded three winners:

David Musgrave, Oasis Pantry

David is an incredible volunteer who is involved in multiple projects across the city. 

David supports so many different projects, each with their own impact, but from an Oasis perspective they say that they would really struggle to run the Roundhill Pantry without him. 

David joined us a volunteer and quickly expressed an interest in doing more, so we trained him up as a team leader which means he can run a pantry session independently. This frees up staff time to focus on other areas and is so helpful. 

He just always says yes, even if it’s a hassle, and even if it’s not easy!

His can-do attitude and willingness to step up when needed helps a number of different projects to run and run well.

John Harvey, Mentoring Plus

John Harvey has volunteered for Mentoring Plus and he has selflessly provided 460 mentoring sessions (1150 hours) over 10 years to support young people and families in Bath & North East Somerset. 

Through his calm, authentic, genuine approach, he has engaged young people who have struggled to participate with other services. He provides a positive role model and through his understanding and own experiences, can support young people with challenges they are facing. 

He has enabled young people and families to help them feel safe, heard, and hopeful. In John’s own words, he says his relationships with his mentees are ‘effortless but priceless’. 

He offers young people the opportunity to have fun, feel listened to and follow their positive interests. Sessions include football, visiting café’s or simply going for a walk. John has mentored many young people and has enabled them to have a better, brighter future. 

Kathleen Still, Age UK B&NES

Kathleen Still, a volunteer for Age UK B&NES who has revitalised two singing groups including one for people living with dementia which had been closed as a result of the pandemic.

During lockdown she liaised with the team of volunteers to keep up with all the members and even recorded some of the songs onto CDs so people could play them at home. 

She truly believes in the power of song to raise the spirits and so, as soon as restrictions were lifted, she worked hard to open up the groups and motivated other volunteers to help to deliver regular, lively, sessions which are proving incredibly popular

It was Kath’s unwavering enthusiasm which persuaded Age UK B&NES, which had lost its funding for activity groups like this, to reopen the singing groups in Midsomer Norton and Wrightington. She is incredibly committed to delivering an uplifting and stimulating session for all who attend. 

The winner of Volunteer Team of the Year is Bravo Medics Volunteer Critical Care Consultants

Bravo Medics’ four highly trained Volunteer Consultants respond to emergencies across Bath and North East Somerset. The ambulance service requests their support if somebody is at imminent risk of death, or they will not survive the journey to hospital.

Pre-hospital critical care is not available through the NHS. Our local air ambulance charity which does provide critical care does not operate 24 hours a day.

Bravo Medics’ work full time for the NHS and go ‘above and beyond’ by volunteering in their spare time.  Demand is rising for their services; volunteers use their own cars fronting the cost of fuel themselves.

Volunteers provide Consultant-level decision making, responders lead medical care, supported by the paramedics. They can work outside of guidelines, so every patient receives tailored care.

In 2021, over 90% of people that were treated survived to hospital. Around one in four would die or suffer life-changing injuries without their intervention. Since last year, they enabled around 32 people to return home to their normal lives.

The winner of Young Volunteer Team of the Year Students’ Union Nightline – Kashvi Mishra

Nightline is the University of Bath’s Student Union’s support service, so very much like a Samaritan type of service but is led by trained students to offer support for students in need of help and support.

Last year Nightline changed back to doing more in-person shifts, after working remotely for the previous 18 months. Bath is the only Nightline in the country to run a hybrid service, meaning while they try to do most shifts in person so they can take calls and instant messages, Nightline also gives volunteers the flexibility of running shifts remotely instead if they so need to.

Expanding the support available to volunteers: being a Nightline volunteer can be difficult, as volunteers take stressful calls at times. They have ensured that support structures are in place to address this, like a family system where volunteers are assigned to smaller groups with other volunteers and a committee member that they can go to if they have concerns or had a difficult shift. 

Nightline also has a welfare check after every call, and this year has begun collaborating further with staff in the SU to offer monthly drop-in sessions for volunteers to discuss any issues they’ve had while on shift, increasing volunteers’ welfare and support. Nightline has also broadened its awareness through running new collaborative talks with other SU societies, such as a discussion on active listening and queer mental health with LGBT+ diversity and support group and a talk on active listening in sport as organised with the sports exec, this enabled Nightline to reach a broader group of students to raise awareness about the service, and wellbeing support more generally.

Charity of the Year is awarded to Youth Connect South West

Youth Connect South West are continually doing their absolute best to help out all communities across Bath and North East Somerset. The staff do not do the work for attention or recognition but purely because they want to help young people in the are having a better quality of life. 

Leaving as a council service in 2019 and not only surviving the pandemic but being able to grow the service on offer is an achievement which should be recognised.

Although most people might think of Youth Connect South West as a youth charity it is so much more than that, this year alone they have provided so much for the community including hosting their own free toddler & baby group on a Friday morning, an older people’s group where they get a free meal and activity, a full week of free easter events for little ones and two free jubilee parties for the different ages.

There are many projects at Youth Connect South West and they help a wide range of people within the community. This summer they provided free meal vouchers and free cooking lessons for families who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. 

The saddening events which took place at the end of July in Radstock hit the whole community hard, Youth Connect’s team were there straight away to support especially the young people who were understandably some of the worst affected. The staff were there to be someone young people of the area could come and talk through their thoughts to help everyone get through it. Working with other local organisations and authorities they held an event to help people work through grief which many parents of the area found useful.

They are a kind hearted organisation that wants to improve the community not only for the now but also for future generations. 

The winner of Green Business Leader is The Community Farm, Chew Magna

The Community Farm is a social enterprise owned by over 600 community shareholders. 

Growing out of the Transition Towns movement, it was founded by volunteers in 2011. Since then, it has turned the remains of an intensively farmed then neglected corner of a livestock business into a thriving ecosystem of people, planting and community regeneration.

Today the farm is led by local people dedicated to sharing their experience of increased individual wellbeing and community resilience through changing the way in which we relate to food, nature, and each other.

The farms strategy comprises four interrelated strands:

Food: Working with communities, they grow, source and deliver organic produce and groceries from local producers to customers within 15 miles.

Farming: Using a regenerative approach they produce £70,000 of organic food annually, creating new skills and perspectives for local people through working in the fields.

Communities: Through growing, making art, connecting and social activities, they improve people’s mental and physical health, their wellbeing, confidence, employability and understanding of self and place.

Wildlife: Nurturing the soil, hedgerows, and fields, they increase local biodiversity, encourage interdependence, and develop understanding of the connections that underpin nourishment.

The winner of the Peter Duppa-Miller Award for Town Councillor of the Year is Councillor Steve Plumley, Midsomer Norton

Steve Plumley deserves recognition because he is one of those people who works quietly and unassumingly behind the scenes across dozens of community groups in Midsomer Norton. He shares his wealth of knowledge, links people and ideas and in short oils the wheels so that the community can achieve great things – and he’s been doing it for decades in a quiet and unassuming way giving thousands of hours of his time.

Steve grew up in Midsomer Norton and Radstock and so he knows everyone. He was a Councillor on the old Norton Radstock Town Council and was instrumental in building bridges when the new Midsomer Norton Town Council was created in 2011 and has served on it ever since. 

He also works tirelessly for local residents – one example is how he worked with B&NES to get kerbs lowered and barriers moved to improve access for the disabled. There are now more areas in the Town residents in wheelchairs can access.  

Whatever the project, Steve brings people together he’s a Midsomer Norton Treasure.

The Peter Duppa-Miller Award for Parish Councillor of the Year is Councillor Robert Helland from South Stoke Parish

Robert Helland has served on South Stoke Parish Councillor for many years as Councillor, Chairman and Vice-Chairman. 

He has contributed particularly to planning matters but was keenly interested in all aspects of the Council’s business. He was a great support to new Parish Councillors, encouraging and informative. 

As a valued member of the South Stoke community, Robert has made a huge contribution in kind and practical ways to so many projects and individuals.

Robert has taken a great part in planning and supporting Parish events, especially the bi-annual South Stoke Church Fete, the Barbeques which took place on alternate years, and for many years he was Chairman of the Parish Hall

Robert’s kindness to neighbours, practical advice, and his help at times of need has been endless. 

Young Person of the year is awarded to Will Lakey

There’s one word to sum up Will – reserved. 

However, we are all so much more than we present.  Will is a thoughtful, caring, warm, loyal and a great friend.
On the 31st of July Will’s best friend lost his life. This shocking death has reverberated around our local communities.  Despite still being in considerable shock and grief Will saw the bigger picture, he could see how the cost of the funeral and the worries about work would impact on his friend’s family.  

In a time of disbelief and shock Will was galvanised to act. He acted to provide support for a family who had suffered the cruellest of bereavements. He looked beyond his own grief and encouraged a community to join together to grieve and to offer support.

Will set up a fundraiser and to date the fund has accumulated over £23,000, ensuring that the family has some financial security at that difficult time but also to ensure that his friend had the send-off that he deserves.  

For the local community it is also a beacon of how well respected and loved the family are and enabled everyone to contribute and feel connected. 

The Chairs Special Recognition Award for Service to the Community has been awarded to the Charity SWALLOW 

Swallow Charity has been operating a café in St Nicholas Church Centre in Radstock since 2011 and has been expanding its activities from its offices in Westfield.

SWALLOW charity are a non-profit organisation, set up for teenagers and adults with learning disabilities.They currently have over 150 teenagers and young adults in our area.

The charity is a combination of paid professionals, volunteers and the Swallows trainee clients who mainly have autism or Downs syndrome or other learning difficulties.

Swallow makes a difference to individuals by allowing  them to become as independent as they want to by giving them jobs in a café to setting up homes. The success has been huge, and the young adults grow in self-confidence and self-esteem by learning social skills, cooking skills, day to day living tasks, or to are enabled to get out and about in the community.