NK Community Champions honoured in a virtual world

Date Published: 13 October 2020

From the ceaseless supply of essential provisions to ease those shielding in lockdown to the more fun and flour-fuelled antics of creative community cohesion to beat its isolation, the life-enhancing and life-saving actions of North Kesteven’s Community Champions in 2020 have been awarded.

Rather than be derailed by the pandemic, this year’s tenth annual celebration of the tireless community-minded endeavours and volunteering which characterises life in North Kesteven was driven by the same level of commitment which motivate the significant levels of community response within the District.

Transferred to a wholly-virtual online presentation on October 7, the sincere appreciation which underpins the NK Community Champion Awards as a celebration of the vast quantity of meaningful contributions undertaken selflessly and tirelessly across the District by thousands of people, was extended to more people online than ever before in a physical setting. 

Council Leader Councillor Richard Wright, acknowledged that the 100 nominations made by grateful recipients of the community-minded actions highlighted ‘barely scratch the surface of the phenomenal response we see across the District in strengthening our flourishing communities’.

With so many nominations from people wanting to thank and honour the individual and collective responses to the coronavirus pandemic in particular, the established ten categories were broadened to 12, leading to a record number of awards being made.

Representatives of the community businesses which sponsor the awards selected the 31 finalists and 12 ultimate winners who were awarded as Community Champions.

Indicative of the selfless desire to make a difference by throwing themselves in to community-minded action, Community Spirit winner Jason Snape from Witham St Hughs said: “I literally did just what I thought needed doing.”

In addition to pioneering play-park improvements, fundraising activities and community responses, he was instrumental in not only Witham St Hughs’ coronavirus support group, but helped those of surrounding villages and supported schools and churches in finding alternative operating models in lockdown.

Lindsay Fulton, instigator of the Martin and Timberland Emergency Support group which judged to be the Community Champion among many similar responses, said the villages’ collective response had ‘brought out the best in our communities, with people really coming together in support of each other in really trying circumstances’.

Cllr Wright said: “I commended every single response across all levels of community consideration, but especially all of those groups which have sprung up to look after the safety, wellbeing and protection of people. Without these groups we would have probably struggled to deal with the situation across our communities as well as we have.”

Sponsor of the Community Safety Award, Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said the awards highlighted ‘the very best of our communities across North Kesteven, picking up on those people who really have made an outstanding contribution to the places where they live and those they live among.’

He awarded Andy Marchant as ‘Mr Branston himself’ for the way he led hundreds of volunteers not only in the present situation but, over many years, in setting out a rock-solid emergency plan protocol to protect his community. “He has really stepped up to the mark and made a difference for not only his community, but for many others.”

As well as protecting, promoting and providing for individuals and entire communities across the pandemic, the Community Champions were also recognised for their broader contributions to life across a number of areas, including sport, the environment, arts and culture, health and wellbeing and as a good neighbour.

The emphasis of community businesses where people are placed above profit were also championed, with Greens Stores in Bassingham winning the award. Owners Michael Saunders and Tracy Raybould said: “We love our village, we love our shop and we love what we do. To know that our customers feel so positively in that is overwhelming.”   

Having initiated a range of creative actions which brought her village together against the isolation of lockdown, Tracey Richardson of Osbournby said her successful approach was thanks to everyone else who joined in with the virtual bake-offs, model making and discovery trails. “It’s been a joy to see the village come together and grow through an otherwise awful situation,” she said.

Other finalists were celebrated for making thousands of face shields, gallons of hand sanitiser and hundreds of home-crafted scrubs for health settings, running swimming and scouting groups for decades, investing countless hours in sports coaching, identifying Norton Disney as the Iron Age equivalent of Scunthorpe and their general support of neighbours and strangers.

Compere Rod Whiting, from BBC Radio Lincolnshire, said: “If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the worst of times truly do bring out the best in humanity. 

“Just as we have learned that we can only defeat the coronavirus by acting together, so too we have seen through these awards that through phenomenal personal sacrifice, compassion and selflessness, we can do more than that; we can build up communities, making them strong, resilient and responsive.”

The usual photos have not been possible. There is a suite of portraits of all the finalists, and photos of the winners with their trophies will be taken on October 9 and 12 and can be made available. 

The complete list of finalists:

The Community Champion in each category is shown in bold.

More detail can be found on each on the NK Awards website.

Community Spirit

Andy Mellett Brown, Heckington

Jason Snape, Witham St Hughs

Ruth Sheeran, Skellingthorpe

Community Spirit – Coronavirus response group 

Martin and Timberland Emergency Support 

Holdingham Helpers

Ruskington Covid-19 Volunteers

Community Spirit – Individual Coronavirus response 

Dale Hardy, North Hykeham

Tracey Richardson, Osbournby

Zoe Ireland, Ruskington

Good Neighbour

Alan Germon, North Hykeham

Janice Batchelor, Ruskington

Lizzy Truman, Great Hale

Contribution to a Better Environment

Carol Hubbard, Ruskington

Nancy Baker, North Hykeham

Tomas Dickson, North Hykeham

Contribution to Arts & Culture

Lee Rooke, Sleaford

Mrs Smith’s Cottage Volunteers, Navenby

Norton Disney History & Archaeology Group

Contribution to Community Safety

Andy Marchant, Branston 

Contribution to Health & Wellbeing 

Food Voucher Scheme, Branston 

For the Love of Scrubs/ Karen Melville, Helpringham 

Rainbow Stars, Sleaford 

Contribution to Sport

Angela Pettit, Bracebridge Heath

Graham Park, Heckington

Samantha Elmsley, Sleaford

Community Business

Greens Stores, Bassingham

Manor Farm Shop, Leasingham

Salted Orange, North Hykeham

Longstanding Contribution to a Group or Organisation

Andrew Ingham, Heckington

Angela Pettit, Bracebridge Heath

Delphine Norton, Ruskington

Young Achiever

George Woodward, North Hykeham 

Nancy Baker, North Hykeham

Tomas Dickson, North Hykeham

Community Champion Awards 2020