HEROES who have worked tirelessly to support the community during the coronavirus outbreak have been recognised thanks to the Swindon Lions.

The fundraising club, which routinely helps local charities and disadvantaged people in the community with donations, has been awarding certificates of appreciation to organisations and individuals for offering a helping hand "at a time of crisis.”

Past president Maurice Watson has been presenting the certificates.

He said: “I want to make a big thing of this. I really want to show appreciation for what people have done for Swindon during this difficult time.”

The Lions seek out recommendations or reports about anyone who has gone above and beyond in looking after the community during the virus pandemic and may not have been recognised for their efforts.

“Swindon is a fantastic place and there are so many people who have been working tirelessly to look after each other over the last few months,” added Maurice.

“The aim is to show appreciation for what that individual or group has been doing in this time of crisis. People have been doing so much but they don’t get recognition for it. These certificates go some way towards that, showing that people understand and value what they’ve done.”

These certificates are delivered straight from the Lions Club International head office in Birmingham. So far Swindon Lions has awarded over 20 to individuals and organisations in the town.

These include the homeless support group Alternative Angels, Swindon Children’s Scrapstore, Swindon Night Shelter, Swindon Advocacy Movement and several supermarkets, as well as Rowlands Pharmacy in Toothill and Jephson Pharmacy in Wroughton for their efforts to continue delivering vital medicines to customers.

Dressability, a charity which usually adapts clothes for individuals with disabilities and limited dexterity, was also acknowledged for its work supplying free PPE to people during the outbreak.

Manager Sharon Tombs said: “It was so lovely to receive the news we had been nominated. We really weren’t expecting it.”

Over the course of lockdown the organisation supplied over four and a half thousand items of free PPE to the people of Swindon, all made by staff and volunteers.

Sharon added: “We started making PPE for care homes and looking to see who else we could help. We put a notice on our Facebook Page saying we were making PPE and were flooded with enquiries.”

They made Covid testing sleeves for staff at Great Western Hospital, as well as full-length, moisture-proof gowns for those working at Prospect Hospice. Masks were also made for Swindon Women’s Aid and Swindon Night Shelter.

“Recently we’ve started posting out two masks to anyone who is disabled or over 65 who can’t get out to the shop to get one,” said Sharon.

“In March when we first started making PPE some of the staff we were helping were terrified – they had no masks, no protection and you couldn’t buy it back then. So it was a really important thing for us to use our skills to help the community,” Sharon added.

A team of eight volunteers and four staff were all sewing from home.

Sharon added: “I think it’s very important that the Lions are handing out these certificates of appreciation.

“Especially for people who are volunteering so they feel that their efforts have been recognised. All our volunteers have been beavering away sewing for months and months so it’s lovely to be recognised for them.”

Individuals recognised include Neal Aplin, an advanced clinical practitioner at GWH who looked after some of the earliest victims of the coronavirus in Swindon. While working on a geriatric ward he saw how quickly patients deteriorated when the disease attacked them.

It prompted him to record what he was seeing and submit it to an international medical journal so other professionals could learn from his experience.

Neal said: “I am honoured to receive a certificate of appreciation and to be recognised by Swindon Lions Club for my work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I like many others, have been working very hard in ways that are new and unfamiliar, to care for patients.

“I feel humbled to be considered for this award and I think it is a very nice gesture from the Lions Club to recognise those who have been playing a part to help our community.”

Maurice added: “We really want to thank those who have worked to help everyone during this crisis.”

For anyone wanting to getting involved in Swindon Lions email contact@swindonlions.org

Swindon Advertiser:

Londis delivers 1,000 orders during virus pandemic

A CERTIFICATE was presented to Londis Supermarket in Cricklade.

It is run by husband and wife duo Jagvinder and Hema Brar and Swindon Lions made the presentation to recognise the delivery of over 1000 orders to local customers during the lockdown.

An additional volunteer certificate was given to Jacob Frusher, a local teen who by carried out over 500 of the deliveries using his bike and a trailer.

Jagvinder said: “It was overwhelming to recieve this. Just to be recognised for what we consider to be our duty throughout this time felt really good. “

“We weren’t expecting it at all,” Hema added. “Our community has always been really supportive of us and shown their appreciation for what we’ve been doing, so it’s lovely to have this recognised more widely.”

The shop has four full time members of staff who together sorted all the deliveries for customers.

Hema said: “We started offering the free delivery actually before lockdown, because we knew people were having to be very careful even then.

“Within a month we introduced the app Snappy Shopper. We had to hit the ground running just to provide the service needed.

“We have such a lovely community here and give back what we get from it really.

“Thank you to the community and The Lions club for the certificate and for recognising the efforts and sacrifices our wonderful staff tirelessly made during lockdown.”

Swindon Advertiser:

“I was so chuffed with it”

Homeless support group Alternative Angels was also recognised for their efforts to look after disadvantaged members of the community during the coronavirus outbreak.

Volunteers went back out to the streets in early July to hand out food to the homeless on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and were presented with a certificate as well as a donation of £250 from Swindon Lions Club.

Jane Richards, who runs the group, said: “I was so chuffed with the certificate I must say.

“I knew he was coming down to give us the cheque.

“But then he said I’m here for two reasons and we want to give you this certificate from Lions International.

“That really meant something to me,” said Jane.

The certificate is awarded in recognition of organisations that have worked to support the community during the coronavirus crisis.

Maurice Watson, immediate past president from Swindon Lions, which presented the certificate, said: “They stood out to us because they are self-funded and I know the volunteers have at times paid for food themselves so that they could continue to cook and give out food each week, which is commendable.

“Alternative Angels is something that few people know about.

“It’s individuals who have taken it upon themselves to help people less fortunate than ourselves.

“We at Swindon Lions want to help the people who are helping the community.”

For anyone wanting to getting involved in Swindon Lions email contact@swindonlions.org.