GUESTS at the Pride of Swindon Awards yesterday raised the roof of the STEAM museum with applause as the town’s greatest community stalwarts collected their awards.
It is the sixth year that the Pride of Swindon Awards have taken place to recognise the good work that people do in their communities.
As well as 13 individuals receiving the Pride of Swindon Badge, five different teams were presented with team awards, and overall 25 nominees and 10 nominated teams received certificates.
Swindon Advertiser news editor Katie Bond, who was among the panel of judges who selected the winning few, said: “I was delighted to be asked to be on the judging panel for the Pride of Swindon awards. It wasn’t just the high number of nominations this year that impressed me, but also the high quality. It made it such a tough job to choose the very best.
“We could all learn something from the winning stories, it is amazing how much these people have achieved from fundraising to overcoming personal difficulties. It’s great that they have been recognised for their achievements.”
The event was opened with a guest performance from young singer Charlie-Anne Bradfield, who stepped into the breach after the death of former town crier Fred Ferris last November left the awards without an introduction.
The 15-year-old, who attends Dorcan Academy, said: “The town crier was supposed to be opening the Pride of Swindon Awards but he sadly passed away, so they asked me to get involved as a young person in Swindon. It was an honour to be asked to open the ceremony.”
The awards were hosted by Shirley Ludford, station manager at community radio station, Swindon 105.5, who joined a team of organisations and volunteers supported by Swindon Council to put the Pride of Swindon Awards together.
Shirley said: “It went absolutely brilliantly. Every year the event has gone from strength to strength. It was quite an exciting day, and quite an emotional day for many as well.”
The awards were founded in 2008 following a conversation between Shirley, the former Mayor Coun Steve Wakefield and Tony Martin from the Zurich Community Trust.
Shirley said: “Throughout their [our] work we noticed that there were many people in the community doing some amazing voluntary work and that they should be recognised in some way.
“Bringing the Pride of Britain Awards back to the town, the Pride of Swindon Awards try to go some way in thanking people for their time and commitment to their community.”
UPCYCLE genius Daniel Struve was moved to tears and left speechless when he was called to the stage to collect his Pride of Swindon badge.
The 84-year-old from Park South was overwhelmed when he was presented with the award by the Mayor of Swindon, Nick Martin.
The grandfather-of-eight and great-grandfather-of-two said: “I am so grateful.
“Every time I look at a child I just think of poor Holly Marie Wells and Jessica Aimee Chapman. That’s why I do it all.
“There’s better people than me doing better work. If I can make a child or an adult smile then that’s all I ask for.
“Thank you so much for the people that voted for me.”
Daniel, known as the Oldest Rocker In Town as a result of his regular attendance at the Reading Festival, has raised more than £40,000 over the years for various children’s charities.
He has also used his up-cycling skills to create models, including a cathedral, to sell for donations to children’s charities.
A lifelong pacifist, one of Daniel’s earliest memories is during the Blitz, when he lived near the docks in London and discovered a woman’s arm following a raid.
He said: “I hate to see children suffer, and a lot of children do suffer.
“I hate wars and I hate guns but I love children and I love animals and I love my family.”
Coun Nick Martin and Shirley Ludford are all ears as Morgan Sharpe sings to the audience
THE BIGGEST round of applause was reserved for a young man with a huge voice, little Morgan Sharpe.
The brave six-year-old, who is a pupil at Westlea Primary School, was given just a five per cent chance of survival when he was born with a rare condition, Goldenhar syndrome.
Born with a missing ear, a missing eye for which he has a prosthetic replacement, butterfly vertebrae, and fluid in the ventricles of his brain, Morgan needed a tracheotomy to keep his windpipe open shortly after he was born.
Morgan’s mum, Kerry Holmes, said: “I am really proud of him. I knew he would win though because I haven’t met anybody like him.
“The fact he is even here and the way that he is, is just amazing.
“When I was pregnant I was worried he might be brain damaged but he is not at all, you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him to look at him.
“You don’t expect to have a baby with one eye and one ear. I fell in love with him straight away anyway. It was just the worry of if he was going to survive.”
Little Morgan was excited to win the award.
He said: “I’m really happy. I didn't want to get my hopes up but I wanted to win.”
COMMUNITY stalwart Sheila Harrod was another winner ecstatic to be recognised at the awards.
The 70-year-old leader of the Kentwood Show Choir was delighted that she had been crowned as a Pride of Swindon winner.
She said: “It’s wonderful. I am so thrilled that I have won this in my special year, which is my 70th and the choir’s 50th.
“I just want to say a big thank you to the people in the choir who nominated me, and it’s really an award for the choir. I think I was nominated for all my community works.”
As well as a leader in the choir, Sheila is a voice coach who has helped numerous Swindon singers to reach the heights of their careers.
Sheila started the choir in her father’s front room in 1964, but the singers soon spread their wings to perform at some of the top venues in the country including the Theatre Royal, Windsor, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday, London’s Royal Albert Hall with Dame Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, and Salisbury Cathedral.
Pride of Swindon Badge Winners
- Danie Struve
- Hazel Furze
- David Bell
- Janet Clarke
- Morgan Sharpe
- Jum Bahadur Gurung
- Deb Hows
- Lyn Parfrey
- Sheila Harrod
- Stephanie Hathaway
- Tim French
- Mike Fisher
- Fred Ferris (posthumous)
Pride of Swindon Team Awards
- Staff and members of Open Door
- SMASH mentors
- Swindon CAB Volunteers
- The Olive Tree Cafe
- Kids United