Awards for Wealden volunteers

Michael Cousins from Horam pictured with Cllr Brian Redman
Michael Cousins from Horam pictured with Cllr Brian Redman

Volunteers from Five Ashes, Mayfield, Forest Row and Horam have been honoured with special awards by Wealden District Council.

They were among 11 community volunteers invited to a special civic ceremony at Barnsgate Manor, Herons Ghyll last week.

Presenting the awards, Council chairman Cllr Brian Redman said: “Volunteers play a vital part in our ability as a community to go forward. As a Council we seek to encourage volunteers in and through our community grants programme, we invest £337,000 every year in voluntary sector.”

The Special Volunteer Award was won by Geoff Gregory whose tireless efforts to improve Five Ashes Village Hall secured £455,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to refurbish it. It took Geoff two years’ tenacity and hard work to secure the grant - the hall was the only successful Reaching Communities Building bid in Wealden. But extra help was also needed and Geoff successfully bid for grants to improve its windows, heating, lighting, sports field drainage and install a hearing loop.

The Chairman also presented Civic Awards which allow district councillors to recognise contributions individuals make in their own wards. In Forest Row, Cllr Peter Holloway nominated Monica Brown, a tireless fund-raiser for the Forest Row Youth and Community Company who helped them raise over £100,000 last year alone to spend on the young and old in Forest Row.

Cllr Brian Redman nominated Peter Brown and Jean Olney of Mayfield. Peter, helped by his wife, Judith, has been transport administrator for Mayfield and Five Ashes Community Cars, organising 700 journeys a year to help local residents attend medical appointments. It is a lengthy task with an average of 2.5 calls needed to find an available driver. In the last four years providing this service, Peter has only taken two weeks off.

For the past 20 years, Jean led a dedicated team of fundraisers for the Hospice in the Weald on behalf of Mayfield and other North Wealden villages. During this time, they have organised some 79 events including concerts, lunches, pig roasts, bridge drives, flower demonstrations and coffee mornings, contributing more than £100,000 to the charity.

Michael Cousins from Horam was nominated by Cllr Susan Stedman. He has been a long time member of Horam Parish Council and Chairman for five years. He was the driving force behind the Horam Centre, the village’s new community rooms. The Centre opened last July and is fitting legacy to his hard work.