East Hampshire’s volunteers were publicly recognised and rewarded for their efforts as more than 150 people attended the East Hampshire Volunteer Awards on Thursday evening.
The awards ceremony, organised by Community First and East Hampshire District Council (EHDC), took place at the Old Thorns Hotel in Liphook and celebrated the dedication and enthusiasm of local volunteers who make such a difference to the lives of many residents.
The evening featured speeches from Sandy Hopkins, Chief Executive of EHDC, Tim Houghton, Chief Executive of Community First and a video speech from Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire, who all spoke about how important volunteers are for the district.
There was also a live performance from the Alton College Jazz Band and a breathtaking violin piece from The Petersfield School (TPS) student Pradip Tran.
Throughout the evening attendees were encouraged to spread the word about volunteering and get more people involved and making a difference in East Hampshire.
“Inspiring”, “dedicated”, “selfless” and “role model” were just a few of the descriptions for the winners and volunteers.
Six awards were up for grabs on the evening; here is a list of the winners:
The first award of the evening was for Young Person of the Year, presented by Sandy Hopkins, Chief Executive of EHDC. Winner: Caroline Hodgkiss, Alton Lions Young Leaders. View the video of Caroline on Vimeo
17-year-old Caroline Hodgkiss has shown amazing positivity, resilience and strength of character to overcome numerous personal obstacles and become a young carer while promoting volunteering to other young people.
As a student volunteer at Alton College, she has been awarded the Lions Young Leaders in Service award and works hard to encourage her peers to volunteer.
Next up was the Unsung Hero award, presented by Tim Houghton, Chief Executive of Community First. Winner: Jenni Few, Music Fusion. View the video of Jenni on Vimeo
Jenni has given many hours of her time over the last four years to lots of community-led projects and events.
She has been passionate about helping reduce homelessness and spoke at the Unison AGM about homelessness in East Hampshire and, despite her mobility issues, went on the ‘walk for housing’ in Southampton.
Jenni has also been involved with a music project, creating an album around anti-social behaviour in 2014 and gave 180 hours of her time last year with Petersfield-based charity Embrace Change as its Musical Projects Coordinator – which involved videos, interviews, writing songs and performing at conferences.
Even when Jenni was battling serious health conditions in 2017 and was hospitalised for five months, she continued researching and generating ideas for the shows.
This year, she has taken the lead on a project around mental health where she is working with more than 30 young musicians and singers.
Despite bouts of ill health, including being in a coma for 10 days this year, Jenni is doing what she can to keep the project going and continues her inspirational positive attitude and determination.
Small Team of the Year award, presented by Cllr Julie Butler, Deputy Leader of EHDC and Portfolio Holder for Welfare and Communities. Winner: Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton. View the video of Butser Ancient Farm on Vimeo
The team of four volunteers from the Butser Ancient Farm, George-Sandford-Bennett, Ben Newman, Jill Freed and Dan Wintle, work tirelessly to keep the farm in pristine condition for visitors, volunteers and events.
Every Wednesday the team comes together to face some extremely skilled and unusual tasks which include the day-to-day maintenance of the farm, chopping wood, special building projects and animal husbandry.
The members of the team come from a variety of different backgrounds, abilities and ages but all work incredibly well together and tackle all tasks with great enthusiasm.
Large Team of the Year award, presented by Beverley Jones, Chair of Community First. Winner: The Peak Day Centre in Liphook. View the video of The Peak Day Centre on Vimeo
The Peak Day Centre has been running a day care facility for the older and more vulnerable members of the community for more than 20 years which relies heavily on its team of caring volunteers to provide compassion and care to its clients.
Each day, between 15 and 18 clients are collected from their home by volunteer drivers. They are then provided with a home-cooked meal and entertained throughout the day by the group of volunteers - who also provide extra services such as helping with shopping, doctor appointments, prescription collection and friendly conversation and support.
Special Commendation, presented by Cllr Anthony Williams, Chairman of EHDC. Winner: John Bannell, Clanfield Parish Council. View the video of John on Vimeo
John Bannell has devoted many hours of his time to Clanfield Parish Council and the future of the village.
John, on behalf of the parish council, has tirelessly negotiated with housing developer Barratts to ensure the best outcomes for the Clanfield community - devoting many hours to reading documents and working with the parish solicitors to challenge and agree every detail.
John has never waived in his dedication, often working 60 hours a week at the expense of his family life and has saved the parish council and Clanfield residents thousands of pounds in legal and other fees thanks to his hard work.
This is just one element of his community involvement which ranges from working with the bowls club, allotment association, residents’ associations and contractors, securing the community open space to weeding and watering plants.
The last award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement award, presented by Richard Millard, Leader of EHDC. There were two joint winners in this category Jim Dickinson, tree warden in Alton, and Anita Clark, Emmaus Hampshire.
View the video of Jim on Vimeo
View the video of Anita on Vimeo
Jim Dickinson has worked tirelessly for more than 25 years as the volunteer tree warden for Alton where he has reported on 880 planning applications and is aiming to make it 1,000 in the next couple of years.
Jim also has led tree walks and hosted talks in the town to educate and promote the importance of trees to residents of Alton and East Hampshire.
He is also a key volunteer of the Walking Festival event, a member of the Alton Society and volunteers at the Friends of the Curtis Museum in the town.
Anita Clark has been volunteering for more than 50 years and currently volunteers 32 hours a week.
Previously, she was involved in the Christchurch Opportunity Group which gives support to mentally and physically disabled children and their families and also set up a breast care group 20 years ago.
Anita is now well into her 80s and still volunteers four days a week as Head of Merchandise for Emmaus, a charity aimed at preventing homelessness. In the last eight years, Anita’s fundraising efforts have single-handedly raised more than £400,000 for Emmaus Hampshire and the charity has placed six homeless people from East Hampshire into its care in the last year alone.
To recognise Anita’s outstanding contribution, she was appointed as vice-president in 2016 and she continues to be an outstanding ambassador for the organisation, promoting awareness of homelessness within Hampshire.