Dedicated Leamington volunteers honoured for their efforts - The Leamington Observer

Dedicated Leamington volunteers honoured for their efforts

DEDICATED volunteers were honoured for their efforts at the Leamington Community Spirit Awards.

Their inspiring and selfless service was recognised at the awards, jointly organised by Royal Leamington Spa Rotary Club and The Kingsley School.

Nine well-deserving volunteers were chosen from nominations made by Rotary Club members and the school community.

Those honoured were:

* Year 13 pupils Morgan Bethell, Sophie Clarke and Grace Green worked tirelessly to support and coordinate donations for Ukrainian refugees, particularly essential food, clothing and bedding items. Kingsley minibuses were commandeered to take students and donations back and forth until all were safely deposited.

* Georgie Acton, an ex-Kingsley School pupil, and now an employee, has raised thousands of pounds taking part in numerous marathons, including the London Marathon several times. She has raised money for Guide dogs, The Lullaby Trust, Cancer Research and notably £4,000 for Barnardo’s. This year she will be completing the Race to the King ultra-marathon (64 miles) for Leukaemia Care in memory of a colleague from The Kingsley School who died in 2023.

* Fern Arnold works behind the scenes to improve local biodiversity and supporting climate mitigation. In 2020 she established Bee Friendly Kenilworth. Fern wanted to coordinate action to stop the worrying decline of the bee population. She became chair of Bee Friendly Kenilworth and successfully led a bid to secure ‘Bee Friendly Town’ status for Kenilworth in 2022. Fern is now supporting the formation of similar groups in Warwick, Leamington, Cubbington and other parts of Warwickshire.

* Anne Cotton selflessly devotes her time to improving the lives of vulnerable people. She was one of the first members of PhonePals, a community response to the isolation of elderly and vulnerable people during the Covid pandemic. As well as organising, Anne frequently made up to 15 calls per week herself. Volunteers have continued to make calls in recognition that loneliness and isolation persists.

* Nigel Milne has supported the Warwick District Citizens Advice Bureau for over a decade. Nigel, though an unpaid volunteer, had become de-facto the IT Manager for the bureau, and its ability to perform effectively has been largely dependent on the commitment of his technical skills.

* John Plumb was a volunteer trustee and director of Warwick District Citizens Advice Bureau from 2012 until 2017 when it merged with Stratford to form Citizens Advice South Warwickshire. His input was critical during the merger which resulted in a more resilient and cost effective advice service and he continued with the new organisation until the end of 2021.

* Lucy Wheeler is s a kitchen volunteer at Leamington’s Helping Hands community project which aims to offer practical help, emotional support and on-going mentoring to those facing homelessness, domestic abuse, low family income, addiction and related mental health problems.

James Mercer-Kelly, headteacher at the Kingsley School, opened the awards ceremony, and welcomed Brian Bassett, president of the Rotary Club, who then spoke about the origins and success of the awards scheme.

Warwick Schools Foundation principal, Richard Nicholson, stressed the importance of continuing collaboration opportunities such as this, while Kingsley student Jasmine Spencer shared her experiences of volunteering for local charity ‘Kissing it Better’.

Leamington mayor Nick Wilkins presented the awards to each of the recipients and applauded their hard work for the positive and transformational impact it has on people’s lives.

Following the awards, Helping Hands operations manager Jo Merrick spoke about the crucial importance of volunteering to her charity. Their popular soup kitchen and charity shop are making a big difference to those in need and utilise the support of around 75 volunteers.


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