Community heroes

[The Community Awards winners with Council Chair, Councillor Sarah Moore]

Ten individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to other people’s lives in Bath and North East Somerset have been presented with a prestigious award to mark their achievements. 

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Community Awards 2023/24 champion ‘unsung heroes’ who make a difference in their communities and support others.

A special ceremony was held yesterday (November 8) at The Guildhall, Bath  

to present the ten winners with their awards, which include new trees being planted by Curo and More Trees for BANES at Whiteway Green in Bath. This will form a lasting tribute to the winners and help extend the green canopy across the district.

More than 60 nominations in eight categories were received for the awards, which this year included the newly named Jenny Willson Volunteer of the Year category in honour of a Bath & North East Somerset Council employee who sadly passed away this year. Jenny was known for her leadership in promoting health and wellbeing initiatives within the community and championed supporting others.

Councillor Sarah Moore, Chair of the Council, said: “I have nothing but admiration for all the nominees and their dedication to their communities. There are some remarkable stories of individuals who go the extra mile to support others and so I am delighted that the winners will be honoured with newly planted trees, which not only recognise their achievements but also contribute to addressing the climate emergency for the benefit of all of us.

“Congratulations to the ten winners on your well-deserved accolades 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 – Daisy Douglas, Tender Education

Young Volunteer of the Year

Winner – Jess Sheridan 

Volunteer Team of the Year

Winner – The Together Project Volunteer Team, Bath Cats and Dogs Home 

Young Volunteer Team of the Year

Winner – V Team, University of Bath Student Union 

Charity of the Year

Winner – We Get It

Green Business Leader

Winner – Storm Consultancy

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

Winner – Councillor Liz Kingston, Stowey Sutton Parish Council.

The Jenny Willson Volunteer of the Year 

Winner – Fiona Bell

Special Recognition, Posthumous – Terry Hodkinson 

Special Recognition, Posthumous – Jean Meredith

This year the Community Awards were 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
  • More Trees for B&NES

Here’s the nomination details of the winners:

The Beryl Dixon Community Leader of the Year is awarded to Daisy Douglas

Daisy Douglas is an outstanding leader because of her vision and commitment to the children and young people in Bath & North East Somerset.  As Programme Manager for Tender Education and Arts, Daisy manages and delivers domestic abuse and sexual violence prevention programmes in schools and further education settings. She works tirelessly to ensure the children and young people of BANES are equipped to recognise early warning signs of abuse, so they can live happy, fulfilling lives. 

As a leader, Daisy has navigated numerous challenges with compassion and determination. When she founded the Avon & Somerset Hub in the beginning Daisy was the only staff member in the BANES area. Since then, she has recruited, trained, and employed a group of freelance facilitators who co-facilitate projects with her. Not only is she creating jobs for freelancers based in BANES, but she is also showing local children and young people that they too can follow creative career paths. 

Daisy’s facilitation skills are exemplary. She approaches problematic ideas and challenging statements with care and attention, transforming them into valuable learning experiences for young people. Her ability to collaborate, build relationships, and advocate for the voices of young people make her the deserving winner of this award.

The Jenny Willson Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Fiona Bell

Fiona Bell has been actively involved in addressing household food insecurity in B&NES for the past three and a half years. She is known for her passion, reliability, consistency, and effective action in this field. Fiona is highly skilled at networking and willingly shares her connections, always making timely introductions. She possesses a keen ability to identify opportunities and enthusiastically celebrates both major achievements and small victories. 

One of Fiona’s early projects, Crop Drop, which she co-created and continues to lead, is now in its fourth growing season. The initiative involves sharing surplus produce from allotments with community projects and schools in the area. Crop Drop’s success has been recognised on a national level, with the project being showcased as a good practice example on a Feeding Britain network webinar. As a result, it has been replicated in multiple local authorities across the country.

The creation of Urban Tree Trails in Bath, led by Fiona, has been a successful project that showcases the city’s magnificent trees. One trail, Treemendous Twerton, is particularly important in changing perceptions of the area and highlighting its green credentials. Fiona’s enthusiasm and direction have been crucial in energising the challenging volunteer sector of affordable food networks nationwide.

The Jenny Willson Volunteer of the Year Posthumous, Special Recognition is awarded to Terry Hodkinson 

Terry was a dedicated cyclist who began volunteering with Wheels for All, and later with All Cycle Bath & West at Odd Down in 2019. He quickly became a valued member of the Saturday Club volunteer team, thanks to his extensive experience as a racing cyclist and cycle club ride leader. Terry possessed a wealth of knowledge about bikes and trikes, and he combined this expertise with a caring and compassionate approach to help others enjoy their cycling. 

Despite his declining health, Terry remained determined to stay active in the way he loved most: riding a bike. With the approval of his cancer care nurse, he returned to the service as a user and rode a side-by-side trike, assisted by a close friend and fellow club cyclist. It is worth noting that Terry continued these rides until just two weeks before his passing in July 2023, demonstrating his bravery and unwavering determination.

Terry’s determination to continue riding and assisting at sessions was only surpassed by his dedication to helping those with a less fortunate experience of the joy of cycling. He eagerly aided children and family members in finding the perfect bike or trike, showing patience with non-verbal users. During one of his final two rides, Terry helped test the routes for the Active Way project, a fitting endeavour led by the creator of this award category.

The Jenny Willson Volunteer of the Year Posthumous, Special Recognition is awarded to Jean Meredith

Jean’s funeral on 10 August 2023, at Haycombe, was well-attended as people gathered to pay tribute to her. Born in December 1945, Jean discovered marathon running in her late teens and became a serious competitor after marrying Roy in 1967 and settling in Radstock. For more than 60 years, she ran with local sponsorship, raising more than £250,000 for charities and church funds, until Parkinson’s disease stopped her. 

In 2021, Jean transformed her hairdresser’s shop into a community hub, supporting various causes. Despite arthritis, Jean always had a smile and continued walking. Roy, her husband, provided unwavering support. The money Jean raised made a significant impact.

Young Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Jess Sheridan 

Jess, a 19-year-old, lost her mother in May 2021. During her mother’s final days, Jess witnessed the invaluable support provided by Dorothy House’s Community Palliative Care Nurses. Recognising the significance of Dorothy House Hospice in end-of-life care for patients and their families, Jess sought assistance from the organisation’s family support team to navigate her own grief journey. 

Inspired by her personal experience, Jess now volunteers her time to contribute to Dorothy House in various essential capacities. Recently, she was appointed as the Young People’s Ambassador for the organisation. Reflecting on her journey, Jess emphasises the profound support she received from Dorothy House and is determined to ensure that others facing loss feel understood and supported.

Jess has been actively involved in multiple projects for Dorothy House. One of these projects is the Dragonfly project, which has recently been re-launched. The Dragonfly project is an annual community education scheme that aims to reduce anxiety and facilitate conversations about death and grief. Additionally, Jess has recorded an important interview for Part of Life, an independent national website created by Dorothy House. Part of Life serves as a platform for sharing thoughts about death and dying. It features a library of conversations, stories, and wellbeing resources that are designed to initiate important discussions about this societal taboo. 

Furthermore, Jess is passionate about advocating for schools to be better prepared in dealing with grief. She understands the impact that grief can have on relationships and studies, especially since she has personally experienced the loss of her mother.

Volunteer Team of the Year is awarded to The Together Project Volunteer Team, Bath Cats and Dogs Home 

The Together Project is a community outreach project supported by Bath Cats and Dogs Home and delivered by a team of volunteer vets and nurses from Bath Vet Group. Their goal is to provide non-judgmental veterinary advice, treatment, and care to the pets of vulnerably housed and homeless people in Bath and North East Somerset. They work in partnership with local homeless charities Julian House and Genesis Trust. 

The team recognises the strong bond between owners and pets and aims to keep these beloved pets together with their owners. Additionally, once a month, the volunteer vets and nurses pack their backpacks with necessary equipment and head to Bath city centre to provide treatment to clients who are unable to come into the clinic.

The Together Project team at Bath Cats & Dogs Home treats each animal with care and each client with respect. They are animal lovers themselves and strive to support their clients in independently caring for their pets. This volunteer team plays a crucial role in reaching out to a hard-to-reach group of people in the Bath and North East Somerset community. Their efforts align with Bath Cats & Dogs Home’s mission to assist more people in the local area and help them keep their beloved pets during challenging times.

Young Volunteer Team of the Year is awarded to V Team, University of Bath Student Union 

V Team are the student led community volunteer group, based in the SU at the University of Bath. Jessica was the Chair of the group during the 22/23 academic year and was supported by a number of students on the committee, as well as a variety of student project leaders to head up the ‘V’ projects’.  V Team delivered over 10 projects from September 2022 through to May 2023, some of which were in collaboration with local Bath based organisations.

  • V Team collaborated with Share and Repair to organise two Repair Cafés, providing a platform for individuals to fix their broken items instead of discarding them. 
  • In an effort to empower young girls, they partnered with Mighty Girls to conduct a coding bootcamp, benefiting 50 participants. 
  • They worked with The Student Community Partnership organising seven litter picking events.
  • Collaborating with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, they facilitated the creation of hampers and Christmas cards for children in hospital during the holiday season.  
  • Worked with the Genesis Trust to establish a donations box for students to contribute essential items. 
  • 57 students dressed up as Father Christmas and participated in a 5K run on campus, raising over £1200 for future projects.
  • 40 students assisted in marshalling the 2022 Bath Half Marathon event. 
  • They engaged with Twerton Infant School to organise enjoyable Easter activities for students.
  • Collaborated with the charity ‘Hedgehog Friendly Campus’ with the goal of increasing the hedgehog population on campus.
  • Supported More Trees Banes on nine occasions.

Charity of the Year is awarded to – We Get It

We Get It is a small but mighty Bath-based cancer support charity. They are a different kind of cancer charity, providing support, resources, and social events for people with any type and stage of cancer, of any age or gender, regardless of their personal circumstances. This inclusivity and equity represent two important values of the charity. 

They believe that no one should be alone during or after cancer treatment and wherever possible, they aim to empower people to live well with and beyond cancer. We Get It was founded and is managed by a team who have all either experienced cancer themselves or cared for loved ones with the disease. 

The weekly Friday ‘Get Together’ in central Bath serves as a crucial source of support for individuals affected by cancer. These events provide a space for local people to connect with others who are also navigating the challenges of cancer, fostering a sense of community and solidarity. During these gatherings, participants engage in open and honest discussions about cancer, addressing topics that are often considered taboo. Through the exchange of information, ideas, and support, they tackle difficult cancer-related issues in a relevant and current manner.

We Get It has established the Cancer Charity Development Board to, enhance communication, collaboration, and cooperation among local charities dedicated to supporting individuals dealing with cancer. This board facilitates meetings where representatives from Dorothy House, We Hear You, Macmillan Cancer Care, 3SG, and key oncology workers at the RUH come together to exchange expertise, knowledge, and establish connections. By working collectively, they are making a significant impact in assisting a larger number of individuals affected by cancer throughout their journey, from diagnosis to beyond.

Green Business Leader is awarded to Storm Consultancy

At Storm Consultancy they build websites, but for their tenth anniversary they decided they wanted to make an impact on local biodiversity while also helping to fight the climate crisis, and they  wanted to bring their clients and friends along with them. 

In 2020, Storm launched their tree planting project called ‘Co-forest’. Through this initiative, local companies have had the opportunity to sponsor plots of land for planting of native, locally sourced trees that are suitable for the area, and commit to their ongoing management to promote biodiversity and benefit people. 

Organisations usually come to Storm to speak about offsetting their carbon, and it’s a great way to open the door, but they try to take them on a journey to see their involvement in Co-forest as an investment in local biodiversity and in their people and the wellbeing of communities by providing access to green space, rather than as a carbon offsetting exercise. 

Storm have collaborated with 37 companies and successfully acquired ten acres in Almondsbury, Bristol. All participating companies actively took part in planting days, in addition, more than100 volunteers from the public also received the same training. They are now working on securing a second site, which is hoped to be significantly larger than the first and, in the B&NES area, with the objective of engaging new volunteers and a wider number of local SMEs and schools in their work. 

Storm are actively engaging with communities around Bath as they lobby to secure a piece of public land for tree planting, nature conservation and public engagement in green spaces. 

They have used these opportunities to highlight the UKs nature crisis and what can be done collectively to help abate this. We feel that Storm Consultancy is setting a benchmark locally for nature stewardship by the business community. 

The Peter Duppa-Miller Award for Parish Councillor of the Year is awarded to Councillor Liz Kingston, Stowey Sutton Parish Council.

Liz played a supporting role in ensuring the village Big Jubilee Fun Day went off successfully.  Without her, so much would not happen. She supports so many, and much of it very quietly, is a ‘go to’ person for many in the village and is always happy to listen, and to ensure that parishioners feel heard. 

Liz is an active member of her local community, serving as a parish councillor and leading Chew Valley Library with expertise. She diligently directs people to various services and maintains regular communication with the Village Agent to prevent anyone from being overlooked. At the Christmas Volunteer Party, Liz worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure smooth operations and a fun-filled event. She consistently volunteers, offering guidance to fellow volunteers whenever needed. 

During the Covid pandemic, Liz played a crucial role in caring for vulnerable community members by personally collecting takeaway Sunday roasts and delivering them to their homes. Additionally, she supported local businesses to alleviate the challenges faced by everyone.​