Chippenham honours its unsung stalwarts

This Is Wiltshire: Alan Brinkworth collects his award from Councillor Linda Packard Alan Brinkworth collects his award from Councillor Linda Packard

Volunteers nominated by the public were awarded for their selfless services to the community at Chippenham Area Board meeting on Monday.

They were so worthy of recognition, councillors were unable to decide on a winning individual and gave awards to all three.

Andy Short, an integral part of Biddestone Cricket Club for more than 30 years as a coach and fundraiser, played a massive part in fundraising for the new village hall.

He and another club member also raised more than £5,000 for a new pavilion by walking 101 miles to Biddestone.

He was honoured along with Janet Smith, who has boarded more than 25 retired guide dogs until a suitable home could be found.

In 2009 she established the Chippenham and Corsham support group of Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Alan Brinkworth, who has been a leader of the Yatton Keynell Youth Club since 1993.

Desna Allen, vice chair of Chippenham Area Board, said: “Alan is reliable and approachable by members, other leaders and parents. The youth club could not have survived for so long without such dedication.”

Area board chairman Coun Linda Packard, who was presenting the awards, said: “All three really deserve to win; all have contributed in many different ways to their communities, so I think for the first time ever we are going to award three first prizes.”

The youth award went to 19-year-old Tom North, of Pewsham, Chippenham. The former pupil of Abbeyfield School has spent three years volunteering as a leader in schools and clubs.

As well as being an apprentice for Active Trowbridge, he is a volunteer coach for the Bath Rugby Foundation and helps with areas including pre-match coaching for hard to reach young people.

He said: “It feels amazing to be recognised, I’m completely shocked. I won the county young volunteer of the year last year as well.”

Winner of the group award was Dauntsey Vale Link Scheme, set up seven years ago to offer transport to medical appointments and to collect prescriptions around the villages of Dauntsey, Brinkworth, Christ-ian Malford and Foxham. Their 29 volunteers carry out eight to ten jobs a week.

Coordinator Steve Eggleton said: “We have a totally brilliant team.

“When there was swine flu a few years back, they were looking for people to deliver the drugs and it took us just four hours to set it all up, that is how quickly we can do things.”

Chairman Nigel Farley said: “If you ask your neighbour they will take you somewhere, but there becomes a stigma attached; people don’t like to be always begging for assistance. We allow people in rural areas to lead a better quality of life.”

Highly commended in the group section were Riverbank youth work volunteers, who have built up arts and media studios beneath the Olympiad, and Develop Enhancing Community Support, which supports voluntary groups in Wiltshire.

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