Civic Awards for eight Wokingham volunteersBy Victoria Corbett
April 21, 2011
The pride of Wokingham gathered at the town hall on Friday night to receive their Civic Awards recognising their hard work and achievements for the voluntary sector.
Eight people who have made a real difference to the town received Civic Awards from Wokingham town mayor Councillor UllaKarin Clark.
Each were deemed to have made a long and lasting contribution to the town in a variety of ways, such as helping charities, supporting other people and organising Scout and Girlguiding groups.
The award winners are Gill Allen, Janet Charlton, Clara Embleton, Alan Newport, Jean Vaughan, Barbara Vitel, Hugh Williams and Martin Wilson.
- Hugh Williams won his award for long service to the Wokingham Volunteer Centre, which links volunteers with charities and individuals who need help with a whole host of activities, such as transport and manual labour.
He has served as chairman for 11 years, however has recently stood down from the position as he is moving away from the area in the next few months.
Mr Williams, 64, of Charwood Road, has lived in the borough for 30 years.
He said: “We do not do things to get awards, but its very pleasant when people’s efforts are recognised. It is more I think for the publicity for the action rather than the individual.”
- Gill Allen, 70, who retired as headteacher of Beechwood Primary School in Woodley in 1996, was awarded for her work on the steering group for the Cornerstone in Norreys Avenue.
Projects she has helped organise for the community centre include parental courses, offering advice and support.
She said: “I find my volunteer work very rewarding and very satisfying. I have always been a people person and I have worked with children all my life. It just seemed a natural progression to work with parents and others who needed support.”
- Mother-of-two Janet Charlton, 70, of Finchampstead Road, was honoured for her work as a stalwart member of St Paul’s Church in Reading Road.
She is an active member of the Mother’s Union and the church’s social committee, as well as a fundraiser for the NSPCC. She has dedicated many years to Girlguiding and is a committee member of the Trefoil Guild.
Mrs Charlton, who worked as a nurse for schools across the borough until she retired, said: “Whenever someone needs a lift or help, I have said yes, because that is what you do. In Wokingham, there is always someone willing to help.
“When something needs to be done, you help.”
- Clara Embleton, 96, known to many in the town as the “lady in red”, received her award for volunteering at the Cancer Research charity shop for more than 20 years, offering a positive and cheerful welcome to customers.
- Alan Newport, 61, of Coronation Square, received his award for long service to St John Ambulance, of which he has been a member for more than 40 years.
He also works a volunteer community responder, providing early life-saving intervention for patients in emergencies, particularly to remote areas where ambulances may take longer to reach.
Mr Newport said: “I have enjoyed all of my time with St John Ambulance. I would do it all again if I had a chance.”
Mr Newport’s volunteering role with the charity included attending the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.
- Girlguiding leader Barbara Vitel, 69, joined her first Guiding group aged 10. In 1978 she became a leader for the 2nd Wokingham Guides and went on to become Forest Division Commissioner in 1986. She was instrumental in forming the Wokingham Division as it stands today and she has been president for the last 10 years. She is also chairman of the Trefoil Guild.
Her enthusiasm for Girlguiding has also spread overseas to Libya, where she set up a group while working as a teacher for the MOD in the 1960s. She and her husband Frank were kicked out of the country in 1969 when Colonel Gaddafi took over in a military coup.
Mrs Vitel said of her commitment to Girlguiding: “I think it’s like a drug, it gets hold of you and you enjoy it and you see what it can do for young women and the opportunities it gives them.”
- Martin Wilson, 69, a retired civil engineer, of Sewell Avenue, has been involved with 1st Emmbrook Scout Group since 1979, becoming leader in 1988.
During Mr Wilson’s time with the Scouts he has seen many changes, including the inclusion of girls into the Scouts.
Two years ago, he arranged for repair work to the group’s Scout hut in Toutley Road and has renegotiated a lease with the water company that owns the land the hut is located on.
“Helping young people is what it is really all about,” he said.
- Jean Vaughan, 64, of Copse Drive, is involved with a long list of groups and charities, including Friends of the Emm Brook, which works to protect and enhance the river, and St Paul’s with St Nicholas Church Mother’s Union.
The mother of two is chairman of the Wokingham branch of the Children’s Society, which has this year raised £5,000 for the charity through door-to-door fundraising.
She has been a member of Friends of the Emm Brook since it launched in 2004 and her love of the great outdoors also comes in handy with her role leading Wokingham Borough Council health walks once a week.
Mrs Vaughan, who works part-time at a dental surgery in Twyford, said: “Sometimes you are busy doing things and you think it is all going into an abyss.
“Volunteering is very rewarding. You can see you have given something back.”