PRIDE OF SWINDON: Nominate your hidden treasures

Jackie Jeffries receives her award from then mayor Ray Ballman at this year’s event in March

Jackie Jeffries receives her award from then mayor Ray Ballman at this year’s event in March Buy this photo

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @SwindonAdver007

A CALL to uncover Swindon’s unsung heroes has been made to allow the town’s most special people to enjoy the limelight for once.

Last week, the Pride of Swindon Awards were launched with the Mayor of Swindon, Mick Bray, encouraging everyone to nominate somebody they are proud of.

It could be a volunteer who has given up hours of their time, a neighbour who always lends a helping hand or an inspirational teacher – anyone who goes the extra mile to help others.

At the launch of the awards, Coun Bray was joined by previous winners and dignitaries, including Shirley Ludford, David Wray of the Swindon MS Therapy Centre, Bonny Walsh of Swindon Limbless Association and Eunice Salmon of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The awards started in 2008 and have unearthed some of the most deserving volunteers and fundraisers in the town.

Previous winners include Christine Heath, a Samaritan volunteer who helps people on the verge of suicide, Emma Court, a doctor who tackled a gang of youths who were beating up a boy, Clive Hall, a fireman at Swindon Fire Station who does daredevil stunts to raise ash for the fireman’s charity, and Karen Leakey, who took on the issue of prostitution and anti-social behaviour in a bid to clean up her neighbourhood.

Sarah Purnell, the founder of Koala Swindon Opportunity Group, has been rewarded for her efforts in the community at previous awards.

She started the group for children who have just been diagnosed with learning disabilities 25 years ago when her daughter, Caroline, who suffers from severe learning difficulties and epilepsy, was just three.

The mother-of-three, who also set up Swindon Interactive Arts Service, said she felt humbled after winning a Pride of Swindon Award.

“I just enjoy doing the work, I never expected to be rewarded like this,” she said.

Meanwhile, 19 years of service for St John Ambulance led to a Pride of Swindon award for Jackie Jefferies.

The 63-year-old, of Highworth, joined St John Ambulance because she wanted to know what to do in an emergency.

She was inspired when one of her senior managers at work had his fifth heart attack. “I was there and I didn’t know enough. I couldn’t have stopped what was going to happen. I thought well perhaps in the future I can,” she said. “It is humbling to get a Pride of Swindon Award.”

Coun Bray said: “To be associated with the awards is an honour. Nominees demonstrate how volunteers have impressed people in Swindon.

“Demonstrating our support for the award will draw the attention and inspire the younger generation to realise the importance of helping others.”

To nominate someone, download the form it at www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/pride_of_swindon_2013/

And in no more than 250 words, tell us why your are nominating them.

Send your entry to: The Pride Of Swindon Awards, Mayor’s Office, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH or email prideofswindonawards@ swindon.gov.uk by February 1.

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