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NOMINATIONS are in for this year’s Melksham News’ Person and Group of the Year awards, looking to celebrate the tremendous work that goes on in the town.
This year, as well as the Person of the Year award – recognising a resident who has made a real contribution to the community in 2019 – an award will be made for the first time to a local group which has also made a real difference to the town.
“It’s been an exciting year for Melksham and many individuals and groups have worked hard to improve the town, raise money for charity or helped other people, and these awards are a way to celebrate all the great work that goes on to improve our community,” said Melksham News editor, Ian Drew. “With so many people doing great things, there are some fantastic nominations and all of them deserve recognition for the excellent work they do.”
Residents in the town have sent in their nominations and the shortlist for Person of the Year is: Tim Carpenter for his voluntary work cleaning bus shelters, road and street signs. He is also the voluntary fixtures secretary and umpire for Melksham Cricket Club; Linda De Santiz for her voluntary work supporting a number of local groups including SW in Bloom-Melksham, Melksham Food and River Festival amongst others; Sue Mortimer for launching Melksham Community Meals last year, saving the service after it was axed by Wiltshire Council; Craig Murray for successfully leading the campaign to bring junior parkrun to Melksham, and Robbie Newton for raising over £13,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support last year.
The group of the year nominations are: Core Church for their work providing a free Christmas lunch for the past 13 years; Melksham Carnival for putting on the community event each year; Melksham Christmas Lights team for volunteering their time to bring Christmas displays across the town; Melksham Town Football Club for bringing the community together through football; and South West in Bloom – Melksham for receiving their third consecutive gold and keeping the town tidy.
Core Church is a group of volunteers who each year organise the free Christmas lunch at the Assembly Hall and have been doing so for the past 13 years.
Naomi and Gavin Owen launched the event in 2007 and each year are helped by an army of volunteers, donors, supporters from the local community – without whom the event could not go ahead.
Core Church also runs ‘Coffee on the Way’ a not-for-profit pop-up coffee shop in Bowerhill Village Hall offering people a place to meet up and enjoy hot drinks with friends.
Their nomination said, “I would like to nominate the Core Church for giving up their Christmas to make Christmas dinners for others free of charge. Not only is Christmas day spent making Christmas special for so many, but the days before, preparing and organising and after, clearing down and cleaning. We are very lucky in Melksham to have people willing to do this.
“It is an amazing gift to those in the community that need it. I’ve never attended as I’m fortunate enough not to need to, but I know that what they do makes a real difference to a lot of people’s lives.”
Each year, a group of volunteers put on Melksham Carnival that brings the residents of Melksham, and visitors of the town together, to celebrate a number of local groups, businesses and entertainers in the streets.
Whatever the weather, people line up and down the High Street each year to witness the event. It also brings together all ages and provides young children, through the carnival royalty, to begin their journey into volunteering and representing the town.
Their nomination said, “They work so hard through the whole year and produce a fabulous event that’s enjoyed by thousands of residents every summer. The organisation of an event that size is a phenomenal amount of work and they deserve the award as a token show of thanks.”
Melksham Christmas Lights team
Every year a group of volunteers brave the elements to bring the Christmas lights displays across the town.
This year the volunteer group had to overcome new rules introduced by Wiltshire Council about festive lighting, which threatened to curtail the display. But despite the setbacks, the group worked around the clock to deliver another spectacular display – attracting high praise from the community.
Thousands of people descended upon the Market Place for the annual event, and yet again, the display has been hailed as the ‘best in Wiltshire’ and the ‘best for miles around’.
Their nominations said, “The great volunteers that weather our Great British weather to give us our spectacular lights every year should be nominated.
“The volunteers do such a great job every year, they just get better each year – well done and thank you for all your hard work.”
The Melksham and District Link is a charity service that drives people to medical appointments across the region, making over 40 trips per week. Their clients include the elderly, less able, and those who cannot drive themselves.
Everyone in the service is a volunteer, including the drivers who participate in the scheme. They use their private cars and customers make a voluntary contribution for the journey or job – whatever they feel is fair or can afford. This contribution helps to support the Link drivers in continuing.
This service has been available for the Melksham community for over 20 years and offers a lifeline for many elderly, disabled or vulnerable people in the area.
Their nomination said, “This is an invaluable service to the community and one which I know is very much appreciated by their clients. They currently take approximately 50 clients a week to appointments and this number is growing at a steady pace. Without this service, many of our older and less able members of the community would have great difficulty and expense in getting to their appointments.”
Melksham Town FC were promoted to the Southern League in 2018, the highest level that the club has played at in its 142-year history. And this season they are building on that success and making a bid for a top 5 spot which would earn them a place in the end-of-season promotion playoffs.
Despite losing key players in April and appointing a new management team, the team is now flying high in the Southern League after a ten game unbeaten run. And with seven wins of the trot, they are up to sixth in the League, just one place out side the play-offs.
They are also the best supported team in the Southern League Division, attracting between 300 and 700 fans to every home game.
Their nomination said, “The club brings the community together and are now doing really well in the league after a difficult start.”
South West in
Bloom – Melksham
South West in Bloom – Melksham is a group of volunteers who each year dedicate their time to making Melksham attractive by organising litter picks, planting, flag making workshops and more.
2019 saw the group win their third consecutive gold award in the South West in Bloom awards. Some highlights of the town this year were the medieval flags in the Market Place, artwork on the former Tavern pub, a wildflower meadow with bug hotel on Bath Road, a new community garden behind the former spiritualist church and a three-dimensional floral bee sculpture on the Market Place roundabout.
Their nomination said, “They work all year round in all weathers to make the town look and feel better, which not only makes the town a beautiful place to be, but raises the community spirit, volunteer involvement and pride for the town, which benefits thousands of people.”
As well cleaning windows professionally, Tim is well known in the community for his voluntary work, cleaning bus shelters, road signs and street signs. He also volunteers as fixtures secretary and umpire for Melksham Cricket Club, and helps to maintain the grounds. He supports Dorothy House, and helps the charity every year with its Christmas tree collection service.
His nomination said, “As well as a window cleaner, Tim goes around the town making it sparkle. He cleans our bus shelters, road signs and street signs making Melksham clean and tidy. When Tim is not going about his day job, he is the grounds man, fixtures secretary and umpire for Melksham Cricket Club. This role is a volunteer role and requires many hours of maintenance to the club’s wicket with cutting, rolling, feeding and watering. The outfields and grounds are all maintained by Tim for the club. The grounds also benefit the wider dog walking community and users of the club’s field. Tim also helps community groups like Dorothy House.”
Linda De Santiz
Local volunteer, Linda, supports a number of local groups, including SW in Bloom-Melksham, Melksham Food and River Festival, and the Melksham Rock n Roll group. Last year, she was also part of the committee that organised the celebrations for the 800th anniversary of Melksham’s market charter. As a photographer, she volunteers her time photographing local events, including the annual Remembrance parade; and she is also the administrator for the ‘Melksham Now & Then’ Facebook page, where she regularly uploads photos of the town.
Her nomination said, “Linda is a fabulous town volunteer. She’s vice chair of SW in Bloom and produced the portfolio that helped them to win their third gold award. And she is a member of the Town Tidy team.
“Linda took and donated all the photos used in the new 2020 Bloom calendar that was produced to raise funds for Bloom. Linda also runs several Facebook pages that help to keep Melksham on the map. She is also regularly called upon by other groups in the town to take photos of their events, which she happily does. Linda really loves Melksham, and it shows!”
In February last year, Melksham Community Meals was launched at the Assembly Hall, following a successful campaign, led by Sue, to continue the service after it was axed by Wiltshire Council in 2018. Throughout the year she has fundraised to keep the service open, and recently found a new home for the service at Spencer Sport and Social Club.
Sue is also well-known for her other voluntary work, including helping at junior parkrun, the local walking netball team, helping children at the library in the summer with reading, and volunteering at Bowerhill Primary School, listening to children read.
Sue’s nomination said, “I would like to nominate Sue for all her very hard work in the community, she really does deserve a prize.”
Last year, Craig successfully led the campaign to bring junior parkrun to Melksham to encourage more young people to exercise. After months of fundraising, the free weekly event for young people, which involves running a 2km course on Sunday mornings in King George V playing field, was launched in December. The event has grown in popularity, with over 80 young people attending a recent event. Craig is also known for his volunteer work with Shaw and Whitley’s Beaver and Cub group, which he helped to set up in 2017.
His nomination said, “Craig worked tirelessly to set up a much-needed Beaver and Cub group for Shaw and Whitley and then set his sights on setting up a junior parkrun. Craig’s actions have purely been to give the young people of Melksham something they enjoy.”
In his role as assistant branch manager at Travis Perkins in Bowerhill, Robbie led his team to raise £13,300 for charity last year. Robbie organised a number of events including an online auction, and a football match between Travis Perkins and Knorr Bremse staff. He is also a ‘Macmillan Neighbour’ offering information and support to customers affected by cancer.
In his spare time he volunteers at Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising events, and has also taken part in a number of runs and challenge events dressed in a bright green morph suit.
His nomination said, “Robbie works tirelessly, doing charity work for Macmillan, raising thousands of pounds every year by running marathons, doing auctions and raffles and a whole lot more.”
The winners will be selected by a panel of judges including Ian Drew, editor of Melksham News, mayor of Melksham Jon Hubbard, chairman of Melksham Without Parish Council Richard Wood and last year’s winners Nathan and Kirsty Cortilla from The White Hart in Atworth. The winners will receive the Melksham News’ Person/Group Of The Year trophies.