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Vote for Melksham’s Person of the Year

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THE nominees for Melksham News’ Person of the Year 2018 competition have been shortlisted, and now readers are being asked to cast their vote on who they think should be crowned the winner. In our last issue, Melksham News asked readers to nominate their ‘Person of the Year’ – somebody in the town who deserves recognition for their outstanding actions over the past year or who has had the biggest impact on life in the town. Below is the shortlist. You can vote on our website – www.melkshamnews.com; by emailing your choice to news@melkshamnews.co.uk (please include your own name and address) or by filling out the form on page 5 and returning it to Melksham News, 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES The deadline for voting is 3pm on Wednesday 23rd January.

Kieran Baggs

In his first year as manager of Melksham Town FC, Kieran saw huge success with the club winning promotion into the Southern League – the highest level of football the club has ever played at. The team also made history by reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Vase – attracting record crowds. At his gym, CrossFit Civitas, in Melksham, Kieran organised a number of fundraisers raising money for charities that support multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, bowel cancer, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

His nomination said, “Melksham Town went through the whole of 2018 without losing a single home league game, which shows how important his impact has been to local football and the town. This has been made all the more impressive with it being his first ever year as manager.”

Stevie Cooke

After the premature birth of her granddaughter five years ago, Stevie was inspired to start making layettes – packs consisting of clothing, hats, a nappy, teddy bear and blanket –  for newborn babies too small to wear regular clothing.

Stevie donates her work to hospitals and charities across the country and is kept so busy she has created her own ‘craft room’ at her home in Berryfield. She has also expanded her work to create twiddlemuffs for dementia patients – a knitted muff with items attached that patients can play with to keep themselves occupied.

Her nomination said, “This wonderful  lady works tirelessly and selflessly to help others at her own expense and devotes so much time despite her own health battles. I think she is truly amazing.”

Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

Owners of the White Hart in Atworth, Nathan and Kirsty are celebrating 10 years behind the bar this month. Since taking over, the pub has become a community hub for the village, and the couple have hosted a whole host of charity events, raising nearly £42,000 for  local organisations, groups and charities. Events included an annual music festival and the monthly village get-togethers – an opportunity for the community of Atworth to come together and socialise.

Their nomination said, “They are well on their way to raising £42,000 for local charities and in an era when communities struggle with the loss of pubs, Kirsty and Nathan go above and beyond to keep theirs alive.”

Luke Dark

In 2014, Luke was involved in a head-on collision with a truck, sustaining a traumatic brain injury, leaving him in a coma for six months.

Four years later, in August last year, Luke defied the doctors who told him that he may never walk again and took part in Melksham’s 5km parkrun, raising over £1,300 for the Air Ambulance who he credits with saving his life. 

His nomination said, “Luke is the nicest person you will ever meet! His fantastic smile, cheeky personality and sheer gumption makes me so proud to know him. He never gives up and deserves this award for the grit and determination shown to overcome his injuries.”

Darren Gerrish

This year Darren will be celebrating 35 years with the 2385 (Melksham) Squadron Air Training Corps. He first joined the squadron as a cadet, before rising through the ranks to join the staff as officer commanding of the Melksham squadron and then becoming a squadron leader. He retired from his squadron leader role in 2013, but continued as a civilian instructor, helping to train Melksham’s new young cadets. 

His nomination said, “Darren probably spends more time with his cadets than he does at home! He is there every Wednesday and Friday evening and is always taking them out in his free time for exercises and orienteering trips. He never stops giving!

“He’s helped a huge amount of young people who have passed through the squadron, helping them learn vital life skills – he’s given so much of his time to the squadron over the years.”

Ciaran Hanks

In 2018, 12-year old Ciaran continued with his efforts raising money for charity, raising over £1,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust by shaving his head, alongside his father Jason. In three years, Ciaran has raised over £2,200 for various charities. He was also named ‘Young Fund-raiser of the Year’ by the MS Society for his swimming challenge in 2017 and received an award at the Melksham Young People Awards. 

His nomination said, “In all of the challenges he has completed, Ciaran has always been very selfless in his missions, always thinking and wanting to help others before himself, a true shining example of the younger generation and a great model for his peers.”

Kathy Iles

Kathy is well known in the town for her work with a number of volunteer groups and for her role as a Melksham town councillor. As chair of the South West in Bloom Melksham team, Kathy has led the group to victory, winning Gold for two years in a row (2017 & 2018) at the South West in Bloom awards.

Her nomination said, “Nobody could care more about Melksham than she does. By nominating her it gives me a chance to thank her for all she does for our beloved town.  Without Kathy Melksham in Bloom wouldn’t be the same! Kathy is a lovely person and has one of the best personalities, we are lucky to have Kathy in our community.” 

Luke Johnson

Luke opened Whitley’s village shop and post office, The Toast Office, in September 2017, realising his vision for a community hub for the village. Since opening, Luke’s store has become a popular place for the community and local groups to meet. Last year, Luke organised a Christmas lights switch-on for the village, which attracted over 200 visitors.

His nomination said, “What he has done for Whitley and the surrounding area deserves a huge reward. He has given the village a hub, meeting point, a post office that doesn’t close for lunch, jobs for several people, and a service with a smile. We have lived here for over 10 years and the village has never been the same as it is now and that is down to Luke.”

Sue Mortimer

Sue hit the headlines late last year when she launched a campaign to save the Melksham Lunch Club after it was closed down by Wiltshire Council. She is also well known in the town for a whole host of other projects including her role with the local walking netball team, the PSG choir, her fundraising events for individuals and groups, her role as a respite carer for foster children, helping children at the library in the summer with reading, and her annual participation in the Melksham Carnival.

Her nomination said, “Sue always seems to have some activity under way for the benefit of an individual or the town. As they say if you want something done ask a busy woman – Sue gets things done in a quiet, cheerful manner, is always ready to listen and help where she can.”

Teresa Strange

Teresa has been nominated for her involvement in a number of volunteer groups in the town, as well as the support she offers to groups to help generate funds or raise their profile. She volunteers for the Melksham Brownies and Guides, is a trustee for local charity Young Melksham, and previously ran a school gardening club at Aloeric School. She is also clerk for Melksham Without Parish Council.

Her nomination said, “I’m not really sure where to start with regard to all the groups and organisations that she has been involved in, tirelessly volunteered for or given her advice and time to, as there are just so many. I think most people in Melksham who know her would agree that she really is the ‘go to’ person if you want information or need to know anything about groups, organisations and what is going on in our town and the surrounding villages.”

Adrienne Westbrook

Retired teacher Adrienne is the current mayor of Melksham. She volunteers as the chair of Melksham’s River and Food Festival, which last year attracted thousands of visitors to the town. She also volunteers for Melksham in Bloom and town tidy days.

Her nomination said, “I am nominating her as she has been a committed volunteer in the town for the past twenty years. You just need to read each copy of the Melksham News to see how much she contributes to our town as she can often be found multiple times in each issue. She has been instrumental in pushing forward the development of Melksham’s parks and open spaces. And as mayor visits countless schools, older people’s homes and generally represents our town at local and regional events, all on a voluntary basis and to help improve our town for all who live, work and visit here.”

83 Responses to Vote for Melksham’s Person of the Year

  1. Ben

    January 16, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Nathan and Kirsten cortilla

  2. Rachel Bedford

    January 16, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

  3. Rebecca Holden

    January 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Luke Johnson -best local place to go at whatever time of the day you fancy.

  4. Maggie Roberts

    January 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Luke Johnson, he deserves recognition for the wonderful hub he has created for the residents of Whitley, a fabulous place to eat, or just go for a coffee!!

  5. Jenny

    January 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Luke Johnson! He has worked very hard to create a community feel. Also Kirsty and Nathan for their fantastic charitable work!

  6. Anneka

    January 16, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Luke Johnson!!!!

  7. Margaret Scott

    January 16, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Kathy Iles. She works tirelessly to make Melksham a bright, colourful place in the summer months with beautiful flowers.

  8. Becky Bignell

    January 16, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Luke Johnson

  9. Holly Williams

    January 16, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    Luke Johnson

  10. Laura

    January 16, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Luke Johnson! Such a lovely guy, who has created an amazing hub for all of the village and surrounding areas. Even offering to deliver food to people during the heavy snow last year!!! Deserves to win.

  11. Elaine Dent

    January 16, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Luke Jonhson
    Great person great place

  12. Rebeca

    January 16, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Luke Johnson!

  13. Georgina Glithero

    January 16, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Luke Johnson. The Toast Office is a really lovely place to go, so friendly and welcoming whether on your own or meeting friends. Staff are all so helpful and it has become the heart of the local community pulling everyone together..

  14. Maddi

    January 16, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Luke Johnson! Such a pretty coffee shop, a really hard worker, a well deserved award!

  15. Megan

    January 16, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Luke Johnson

  16. Dawn Johnson

    January 16, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Luke Johnson, we live in The Netherlands but have family who live locally to the toast office. Whenever we visit we make a point of going to the toast office, such a wonderful place to eat , have a coffee or even a glass of wine at the evening opening. We love this place and Luke is always a joy to chat with.

  17. Jill Rowland

    January 16, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Luke Johnson. What an inspirational young man who has created a wonderful sense of community for Whitley and the surrounding area

  18. Steve Walkden

    January 16, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty get my vote, its so hard to not only maintain a pub but even harder to make it a hub of the village and raise a substantial amount of money for various charities in so many different ways, They are always struving to think of new ideas…..all of this achieved with a young family to look after, hats off to them they deserve this reward.

  19. Nicola

    January 16, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Luke Johnson is an amazingly hard working young man who has created a wonderful environment for all of Whitley and the local area. A fab place with great cake!

  20. Richard Rowland

    January 17, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Luke Johnson – such an incredible hub for our village. A young entrepreneur with such a big heart.

  21. Eddie Day

    January 17, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Luke Johnson has made Whitley a community again.

  22. Derek

    January 17, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Luke Johnson – poured his heart and soul into creating such a wonderful place for the community!

  23. Althea Lee

    January 17, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla-for creating a true village pub at the Whire Hart

  24. Alan Lee

    January 17, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Nathan & Kirsty

  25. Charlotte

    January 17, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Luke Johnson – I may be biased but I know first hand just how hard he has worked day and night to achieve the community hub that Whitley had been missing for so long. Let’s give him the recognition that he deserves!

  26. Michele Booth

    January 17, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Teresa Strange
    Tirelessly and selflessly helping and supporting so many communities around Melksham. A real hands on, can do person, well deserved

  27. Michael Booth

    January 17, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Teresa Strange
    provides huge amounts of support and advice to community groups (including CAWS) in the Melksham area and always with a smile!

  28. Joanna Stubbings

    January 17, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Teresa Strange. She is very involved in the community and really cares for everything in it.

  29. James Glithero

    January 17, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Luke Johnson

  30. Keeley Hampton

    January 17, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Kirsty and Nathan Cortilla. They are amazing landlords and what they have done for the village and local charities is absolutely fantastic.

  31. Bex lewis

    January 17, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Luke Johnson
    Lovely lovely guy!!

  32. Lorraine Petty

    January 17, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Kathy Isles. Kathy works tirelessly to help make Melksham the great town it is today and expects no praise in return. Thank you Kathy.

  33. Susan Sampson

    January 17, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    I vote for Luke Johnson, what an inspirational young person!
    He truly cares about his local community.
    Keep up your great work.

  34. Emma A’Court

    January 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

  35. Danielle

    January 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Luke Johnson. He is lovely guy who has created a great business. He deserves recognition for all of his hard work!

  36. Sarah Hardwidge

    January 17, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Most definitely Luke Johnson (toast office!!) x

  37. Elaine Finch

    January 17, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Stevie Cooke. She has dedicated so much time and care into all the things she makes for the tiny little angels who didn’t get to see this beautiful world we live in and the little ones who have needed care in special care baby units. The time and effort she put in to making twiddle mats for people suffering with dementia and delivering them to care homes and hospitals. She is one of the most selfless people I have ever had the pleasure to know and call a friend. She deserves every recognition for all she has done without any thought of thanks for any of it.

  38. Sarah T

    January 17, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Most Definately Luke Johnson @ the toast Office xx

  39. Linda Sturgess

    January 17, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

  40. Jill eatough

    January 17, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    Luke Johnson has brought the community together since opening the toast office .

  41. Pam Burton

    January 17, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Luke Johnson from the toast office has brought a village community back together. It’s a wonderful social meeting place for young and old. He has worked so hard listening and learning at what’s best for the village.

  42. Natalie Willis

    January 18, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Luke Johnson at the toast office gets my vote. He has brought the heart of the village back. He is such a cheerful person and has managed to create a wonderfully modern, comfortable and welcoming place. He’s also great with the little ones and always has a smile, so important when you’re dealing with the public!

  43. Dawn Cox

    January 18, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Luke Dark. A truly brave man that not only overcame terrible injuries but also raised money for such a worthy cause. Well done

  44. John Armes

    January 18, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Luke Johnson , what he has achieved with The Toast office in Whitley is incredible.

  45. Pip Davey

    January 18, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Luke at the Toast Office…
    Such a nice bloke, he’d probably vote for the others…

  46. Colin Watts

    January 18, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Luke Johnson, for providing Whitley with a much needed social gathering/meeting coffee shop while still providing the post office and village shop services.
    All the staff are welcoming and cheerful and have time for a chat, taking their lead from Luke.
    He has given the village a center, used by the locals, walking and cycling groups bringing life into the village.

  47. Chris Lambert

    January 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

  48. Nige Moore

    January 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Darren Gerrish, for his massive, almost life long commitment to 2385 Air Cadets. Top Man

  49. Melanie

    January 18, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Teresa Strange, for her work in supporting various volunteer groups

  50. Barry A’Court

    January 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty

  51. Keef

    January 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Nathan and Kirsty.

  52. Garry Holbrook

    January 18, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Luke Johnson gets my vote

  53. Lesley Balecke

    January 18, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Stevie cooke

  54. Stuart Jones

    January 18, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Stevie Cooke amazing thing to do 🙂

  55. Cleo Glithero

    January 18, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Luke Johnson!!

  56. Lisa lowton

    January 19, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Theresa strange. For all her continued work in volunteering .

  57. Sarah

    January 19, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Darren Gerrish for his long term dedication and commitment to the Air Cadets and his support and guidance to the many young people of Melksham. Thank you.

  58. Logan Gerrish

    January 19, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Darren Gerrish
    Great Civilian instructor helps everyone out at the squadron.

  59. Lisa

    January 19, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I would like to vote for Stevie Cooke for the amazing work she does!!!!

  60. Suzanne C

    January 19, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Luke Johnson – truly the Heart of Whitley…outstanding

  61. Katie

    January 19, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Stevie Cooke

  62. Guy Davies

    January 20, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla

  63. Sam Redstall

    January 20, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I would like to vote for Darren Gerrish

  64. Andy Redstall

    January 20, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    I would like to vote for Darren Gerrish

  65. Kelly Williams

    January 20, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I vote for Kathy Iles; her work for Melksham in Bloom is fab.

  66. Julia Matthews

    January 21, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Luke Johnson. He has worked so hard to bring a fantastic social and practical hub to the village. Really impressive young man.

  67. Maurice Clay

    January 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla. Their pub is fantastic, everything a community pub should be, and the way they support local charities and organisations is exceptional

  68. Derek Tate

    January 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I vote for Darren Gerrish for all the good work he has done at Melksham ATC over the years.

  69. Pamela

    January 21, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    I vote for Stevie Cook for the inspiring way that she continues to make and donate these essential items.

  70. Tina

    January 22, 2019 at 7:58 am

    I would like to vote for Kathy Iles who works tirelessly to keep Melksham ‘blooming beautifully’.

  71. Shaun Heathcote

    January 22, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Luke dark
    The turn around Luke’s made since his accident is amazing, and has already planned his next fund raiser for air ambulance.
    Such a polite and friendly guy, and never lets what has happened to him effect the way he lives his life,
    deserves the award!

  72. June Evans

    January 22, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Sue Mortimer for working to reinstate the Luncheon Club after it was closed by WCC and for all the other things she instigates for the benefit of lots of the people of Melksham.

  73. Jones family

    January 22, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Ciaran Hanks has our family vote; he has inspired his peers to think of others and donate to good causes. Well done Ciaran 😀

  74. Zoe

    January 23, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Luke Johnson

  75. Rodger moore

    January 23, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    I vote for Luke dark. Just the injuries he has with a brain injury and no one wil ever understand what he’s going through

  76. Bill baily

    January 23, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Luke dark SURVIVOR

  77. Jeremy kidner

    January 23, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Luke dark I couldn’t imagine the types of challenges he has everyday which he just takes with in his stride

  78. Pam

    January 23, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Theresa, she goes above and beyond her role for Melksham. Always giving out excellent advice and being available all of the time.

  79. Sarah Whines

    February 1, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Luke Johnson 👏👏👏

  80. Jerry

    February 5, 2019 at 3:47 am

    Luke Johnson. I have family in the area and wasn’t surprised he was nominated. He has worked incredibly hard and shows what can be achieved with a supportive partner and a great team he can trust. Constantly working and thinking of new Toast Office events the only thing this guy lacks is a holiday!

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    September 4, 2019 at 11:22 am

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