Community Awards celebrate the best of Crawley

Eighteen people and groups were recognised in the Crawley Community Awards on Monday night.

Between the presentations, there were performances by Society; O’Brien School of Irish Dancing; Hawth Youth Theatre; and Flitecrew Infinity Cheer.

The winners at the Crawley Community Awards

The winners at the Crawley Community Awards

Volunteer: Cameron Taylor. Cameron works for many Crawley schemes for children and young people with disabilities, including ‘Moving Barriers’ disability sports group, and also ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ accessible cycling club.

Charity: St. Catherine’s Hospice. St. Catherine’s is Crawley’s local hospice. They exist to make life better for local terminally ill people, when life comes full circle. Thanks to the support of the local community, for nearly 40 years they have been providing expert end of life care at both the Hospice and at people’s homes.

Volunteer Group: Giving Back Crawley. A voluntary service run solely by a small group of volunteers, Giving Back Crawley serves food and take away bags to the homeless community and those struggling financially. They are in the town centre four nights each week. They also provide sleeping bags, tents, clothes and toiletries. In less than a year, they have served over 5,000 meals.

Special Recognition: Renny Richardson. Renny is being recognised for his passion and enthusiasm for commemorating those from the town who fought in World War One. He has contributed greatly to local campaigns by Crawley Borough Council over the past few years. These include providing content for the Heroes Walk Boards and helping with the commemorations for the centenary of World War One, in the Memorial Gardens.

Performing Arts: John Scott Cree. (Christine Ollis from Crawley Arts Council accepted the award on John’s behalf.) As well as being a respected and well-known folk guitarist, singer and performer, John takes his guitar into many care homes and clubs and leads therapeutic singalongs. He spent the past eight years as leader of the Silver Birch Singers, an enthusiastic group of senior citizens who just love to sing!

Support Group: Crawley Community Youth Service. Crawley Community Youth Service run clubs in a number of different centres around Crawley. One person commented: “These youth clubs change the lives of young people by giving them somewhere to hang out safely; to learn music, art, sport and cooking or just spend time with friends in a safe environment.”

Sports: Adam Parker. Adam has been excelling in the field of Martial Arts for more than eleven years. He has won multiple British, European and World titles. Towards the end of 2017 and aged just 19, Adam set up his own school to pass on his skills to a new generation of children and young people in the Crawley District.

Education: Lucy Bear. Lucy is a qualified adult learning tutor. She works with LPK Learning which is a not-for- profit organisation, delivering a range of learning opportunities for the community in Crawley. Her courses include providing training for parents. They are then equipped to help their children to learn Maths in a fun way. Lucy is described as ‘a wonderful teacher, who puts you at ease right away’.

Community Group: Saathi Elderly Ladies Group. About eight years ago, Bhavna Sharma noticed that there were no groups available for elderly South Asian ladies, so decided to set up a group herself. This was despite having no resources, funding or premises. The group started with one session a week at Crawley Youth Centre, with activities including board games, music and exercising. The Group now meet at Crawley Library and Age UK.

Local Hero: Sangita Patel. ‘Ziggy’ is the powerhouse behind Food4Crawley, which distributes surplus food donated by local businesses and individuals to the people of Crawley. This has included distributing food from a marquee at the back of Tesco in Three Bridges where queues formed early and they regularly provided food for more than four hundred people. Most recently they have been providing hot meals at St. Alban’s Church in Gossops Green.

Inspiration: Ann Dutton. Each week, Ann generously gives up two days to fulfil vital roles at St. Catherine’s Hospice. Over the past thirty-five years, Ann has been there for people who are struggling, letting them know that they don’t need to manage their illness alone.

Youth: Finlay Brent. Finlay joined the Junior DJ Project, run by Dreamcatcher Productions, in February 2016, initially he was interested in learning to DJ. Since then, he has committed himself to getting involved in a large number of community events, accumulating over one hundred hours helping out.

Pride of Crawley certificates: Barbara Bower and Mary Grace. Ifield grandmother Barbara Bower MBE has been fostering for more than 40 years, providing homes for 128 vulnerable children. Mary Grace BEM from Three Bridges has given many hours of her time to multiple charities.

Group Achievement: Worth Way Runners. Worth Way Runners was formed in June 2015 for people with little or no experience of running. They now have more than 100 members registered for Tilgate Parkrun and some of the original members have completed full marathons. There are no membership fees - everything is free for group members.

Fundraiser: Mark Furlong. Mark runs a plumbing and heating business and is a single dad of two young boys. He set himself a challenge, aiming to collect and donate one hundred Christmas presents. He spread the word and, well before the Christmas deadline, Mark was able to donate two hundred gifts to help make Christmas a brighter time for children who might otherwise have gone without.

Culture: Dave Watmore. Dave has worked on events in Crawley for almost 35 years - including organising the Queen’s visit in 2006. He has been at the Hawth since it opened in 1988.

He has brought touring West End shows and top comedians to the Hawth and developed projects, including the Sway Dance Studio and The Loft.

Achievement: Patrick Nelson. Pat Nelson has been running the boxing section at the Crawley Youth Centre for over forty years, coaching both local and regional champions, and now supervises an all-female class. Thousands of young people have benefitted from Pat’s coaching and guidance over the years.

For more about the awards, visit: www.crawleycommunityawards.org