THE nominees for Melksham News’ Person of the Year 2015 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 by simply emailing your choice to email@example.com (please include your own name and address) or by filling out the form on page 2 in your newspaper and returning it to Melksham News, 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES The deadline for voting is 5pm on Wednesday 20th January.
Terry is a councillor for Melksham Without Parish Council, and the local member for Wiltshire Council. He has lived in the area for over 50 years and has been a member of local government for over 30.
In 2015 Terry backed major campaigns in Melksham including one to stop over 250 houses being built opposite the former George Ward School, and an ongoing petition to try and save the Connect2 RUH bus service or ‘Hopper’.
Terry is renowned for steadfastly representing the views of local people at council. Last year he spoke out about problems with the campus project and more recently fought against Wiltshire Council’s plan for traffic lights on Farmers Roundabout.
Terry is semi-retired but works part-time as a coach driver and is a member of Community Action Whitley and Shaw.
Terry said, “I’m delighted to have been nominated for the award. I try to make sure everyone’s voice is heard at county hall – even if I don’t agree with them, and I love every minute of being a councillor.
“Last year was quite sad as we’re seeing more services slashed and are likely to see bus services cut to the bone in 2016. Nine out of ten times I’m fighting an uphill battle and it is hard, but that’s what it’s all about and I’ll always be back to fight another day.
“My work is incredibly rewarding and if I can make a small difference to one person’s life it makes it all worthwhile.”
Anne is the chair of Broughton Gifford and Holt Scout Group, and has volunteered at the organisation for 37 years. She is also the assistant Beaver leader and the West Wiltshire district commissioner for the Beavers.
In 2015 Anne, also known as ‘Chil’, organised a sleepover for over 100 Beavers at Boomerang, as well as going to Scout camp in the summer and helping to replace the group’s tents through fundraisers including an Easter egg hunt, a stall at Melksham Christmas Fayre, quiz nights and bingo events.
Anne is also the captain of the Georgians skittles team, which plays in Ladies Division 1 of the Melksham and District Skittles League.
Anne’s nomination said, “Anne is the backbone of the Scout group; nothing is ever too much trouble for her. She has touched so many young lives in the Melksham community and the surrounding villages, and has given up almost 40 years to tireless volunteering.”
Anne said, “I’m stunned to have been nominated! In a good way, of course – I didn’t expect it at all. I’ve been part of the Scout group for over 37 years and I love seeing local children get something out of it. I’m Melksham born and bred and I worked with children with special needs for 33 years; I find it really worthwhile giving young people opportunities they wouldn’t get otherwise, and Scouting is a great way to do that.”
NAOMI & GAVIN OWEN
Naomi and Gavin Owen are founding members of Bowerhill’s Core Church and the organisers of the free Christmas lunch at Melksham Assembly Hall. The annual Christmas get-together is a free community event held on Christmas Day when people are invited for lunch at the Assembly Hall. In 2015 140 guests attended the celebration, which was the ninth event since it started in 2007.
The couple work with children and young people through Core Church and both do other volunteering in the area. Naomi is chair of trustees at the environmental charity Wiltshire Scrapstore, and Gavin is involved with several local charities and runs the Bowerhill Board Games Club in The Pilot on Wednesday afternoons.
Naomi grew up locally and attended George Ward, and she now works as a solicitor in the town. Gavin moved to Melksham when the couple married and runs his own business.
The couple’s nomination said, “They do such fantastic work for the town and the free Christmas Day lunch is a true community event which is one of the highlights of the year.”
Gavin said, “It’s nice to be nominated again but running the Christmas get-together is its own reward, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help and generosity of many other Melksham people.”
Darren is the manager of Melksham Town Football Club which, in 2015, had the most successful season in its 140 year history when it won the Toolstation Western League Premier Division for the first time. The club earned promotion but could not move up due to delays in building the club’s new ground at Woolmore Farm.
When Darren managed the team for the first time 20 years ago, the team finished first in Division One and were promoted to the Premier League in which they play today. Last year, in his second season since returning to the club after 13 years managing elsewhere, Darren took Melksham Town to the top again.
Darren has lived in the town for 47 years and works as a minibus driver giving transport to disabled children.
Darren said, “I’m shocked and honoured to have been nominated for the award. The last 18 months at the club has been phenomenal. To win the league as a community club with no budget and just players from Melksham is incredible, and it was a magnificent effort by all the players and everyone at the club. I feel honoured to be their manager and cannot speak highly enough of everyone at Melksham Town FC.
“People can say what they like about Melksham but in my eyes it’s the best town in the UK. When you look at the Christmas lights, the events people put on throughout the year, and the support we have at the club, the community spirit is second to none.”
Brian is the founder and chairman of Melksham Seniors 55+ Forum, and is actively involved with supporting older people in the area in a number of organisations.
A former local councillor and chair of the Regional Community Health Council, Brian is now the older people’s champion for Wiltshire Council and an advisor on issues affecting ageing people.
He is also governor of a local school for children with special needs, and has been a passionate supporter of helping vulnerable and disabled people in the area for 30 years.
In 2015 Brian continued his work for older people in the area by organising the regular seniors’ film club and other events throughout the year such as the well-attended Seniors’ Christmas party at Melksham Assembly Hall.
Brian said, “I am honoured to have been nominated again for the community work I love. I could not carry out those tasks without the wonderful support of my wife Beryl, who quietly in the background does a tremendous amount of work to ensure the events we organise are a great success. My thanks also go to those other fantastic volunteers that regularly support me.
“We are fortunate to live in a very supportive community where so many caring individuals give so much of their own time to help improve the quality of life for us all.”
Miriam is the deputy town clerk at Melksham Town Council and is heavily involved with helping to organise and promote community events throughout the year.
In 2015 Miriam was involved in the first ever combined Melksham Food and River Festival, Bloom in Melksham, the monthly Tidy Town Days, the Best Looking Business competition, the Young People’s Awards, Melksham Comic Con, the hugely successful collection for refugees, and the Christmas Fayre and lights switch-on.
If she isn’t working behind the scenes, Miriam is a familiar face in the crowd at every big event in the town. She has worked in Melksham for seven years; three in the local community area partnership, and four at the town council.
Miriam’s nomination said, “Although Melksham is blessed with a number of people who might deserve this accolade, I find it hard to think of anyone I know who would deserve it more than Miriam this time round. Her enthusiasm and drive is infectious.
“What she does outside work is way beyond her job description, and every event she is involved with is enhanced by her presence, organisational skills and involvement.”
Miriam said, “Thank you for the nomination. I absolutely love working here and the opportunities it gives me to get involved with so many things in Melksham outside of the job.
“This is a really lovely community to be a part of, and I’m so lucky that every day I get to meet and work with such genuinely community-minded people doing so many wonderful things. Being nominated feels weird because it’s just what I do for the love of it!”
You can vote by simply emailing your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your own name and address) or by filling out the form on page 2 in your newspaper and returning it to Melksham News, 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES The deadline for voting is 5pm on Wednesday 20th January.