Published on 26.05.2015

Mayor’s Civic Awards for unsung heroes

The Mayor’s Civic Awards ceremony took place on May 13th at the St James’s Centre in Alnwick. This annual event celebrates some very special individuals and groups with 16 people receiving individual awards and 3 receiving group awards.

The civic awards are divided in two categories – the youth awards and the general. Tonight we start with the presentation of the youth award.  Everyone was nominated by other residents for their involvement, contribution and dedication to charity work, community participation, sport or voluntary activities.


Youth Award: Zara Browell

Civic Awards: David Angus

  • Major (Retired) Fred A Calvert MBE TD
  • Doreen Coleman
  • Michael Doherty
  • Andy Griffin
  • Nancy Hammond
  • Steve Hurst
  • Trish Jones
  • Jenny MacDowell
  • Clare O’Donnell
  • Gill Parker
  • Tom Pattinson
  • Rachel Robinson
  • Alan Symmonds
  • Anne Walton
  • Group Awards
  • Alnwick Christmas Lights Team
  • Halifax Team (Alnwick branch)
  • Simulator and Support Flight School of Aerospace Battle Management RAF Boulmer

The Mayor said a few words about each person or group who had been nominated before handing out certificates.

The youth civic award went to ZARA BROWELL.  Although Zara has a heavy workload she gives generously and cheerfully of her time within the school community and outside. She is a committed Air Cadet and has volunteered with ex-RAF personnel who have been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Zara is well respected amongst her peers due largely to her considerate nature and warm personality. She gives 100% commitment to whatever she is involved in as she cares very much about the welfare of those she works with. It is gratifying to see a teenager providing such a good role model both in and out of school. She is someone who volunteers through a genuine desire to be helpful to others.

Zara Browell received a civic youth award for her community service activities and volunteer work, including work with ex-RAF personnel suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

General civic awards

David Angus. David was nominated for providing a high level of care for the hanging baskets around the town which resulted in an exceptional display. He meticulously watered, fed, dead headed and weeded in the early hours of the working day and provided Alnwick with a floral show of which it could be really proud. This was reflected in Northumbria in Bloom’s assessment of the town’s overall 2014 presentation and resulted in a good Gold Medal Award.

David Angus received a civic award for his very high level of horticultural care within the town helping the town to win a Gold Medal.

Fred Calvert. Fred served as a councillor in the 1960’s and was a leading figure in the Alnwick Variety Club giving enjoyment to the community. He was very much involved in the early days of the Alnwick Fair and was one of the people responsible for bringing the Bryne Band from Norway to the fair. Fred served in the Northumberland Fusiliers and was based in Alnwick until he retired when he received an MBE for his services to the Fusiliers. But it is his involvement in the Remembrance Day Services for which most of us know Fred.  He has been involved in 57 services and parades and in fact the format of the Parade was his idea and is still used today. In 2014 Fred decided to retire from being involved in the organisation of the event. And, as his nominator says, he will be a big miss – a sentiment we all share.

Major (Retired) Fred A Calvert MBE TD received a civic award for his contribution and dedication, over many years, to the benefit of the Alnwick Community including 57 Alnwick Remembrance Day Services and Parades.

Nancy Hammond. Nancy is a quiet unassuming person who volunteers at more than one place in Alnwick. She does this to genuinely help those institutions rather than for attention or social interaction and often goes above and beyond what is asked of her.  At the Alnwick Garden she regularly gives over 15 hours per week. She adds her former skills as a librarian to the team and regularly contributes ideas using her own initiative.  She is also involved in the Baliffgate Museum where she regularly does research towards various projects. In this way she contributes to the heritage and its appreciation in Alnwick. More than this, she has often helped people on a personal basis. Indeed she always has time for anyone. Nancy is not a prima donna, she helps out in order to contribute not to be well known. She is open minded and helpful with a sense of quiet friendliness which she has shown to many people.

Nancy Hammond received a civic award for her volunteer work and her continued contribution to the heritage and its appreciation in Alnwick.

Michael Doherty. Michael has served the people of Alnwick for over 30 years as a retained fire fighter. He was always one of the first to volunteer at the fire station for schools visited as he enjoyed working with the children. He wrote the presentations for the scouts and guides fire badges which are still used at the fire station. Towards the end of his service he helped set up and run the Alnwick branch of the young fire fighters and if you meet any of the young fire fighters they will always ask after Michael. Nearly all the work he did was unpaid and he would spend many hours making sure that Thursday nights were enjoyable.

Michael Doherty received a civic award for 30 years’ service as a retained fire fighter nurturing young people through school visits and setting up and running the Alnwick Young Fire Fighters.

Andy Griffin. Andy is a volunteer with Action on Hearing Loss. He joined them as a volunteer after gradually losing his hearing and having to give up his job as a teacher.  Andy has not let his hearing loss hold him back, he has written several books on local heroes, one of whom is Admiral Collingwood.  Andy has also written several talks that he takes to local groups all around Northumberland including Alnwick. He has written a play which was presented at the Playhouse Theatre in Alnwick earlier this year. Andy runs a hearing support group once a month at St Paul’s Court and arranges speakers or speaks himself on any changes in treatment or new products that may be available to help people with a hearing loss.  Andy was instrumental in “FREE” Lip Reading classes coming back to Northumberland and worked tirelessly with Action on Hearing Loss and the County Council to ensure this happened.  The class in Alnwick is going strong.

Andy wants to help all those with hearing loss get the best service that is available and has worked in conjunction with Action on Hearing Loss to ensure optimum seats are provided in cinemas and theatres and worked with a subtitling organisation to provide the best experience and outcomes for those with hearing loss.  Andy impacts on thousands of lives and richly deserves this Civic Award.

Andy Griffin received a civic award for his wide-ranging volunteer work assisting people with hearing loss and highlighting the difficulties they face.

Steve Hurst, As owner and driver of Spirit Buses Steve has introduced a style of bus service that is a boon not just to the further reaches of Coquetdale but also connects Rothbury and Alnwick directly again. The addition of the essential route between Alnwick and Alnmouth Railway Station, which has integrated with the established service by meeting trains a further five times day, has been most welcome. The comprehensive response to local needs has been very carefully researched and funded by Steve as a sustainable business and this personal and very effective network is immensely appreciated by all in both Alnwick and Rothbury.

Steve Hurst received a civic award for his comprehensive response to local transport needs, through provision of a very effective service, to support the residents of Alnwick.

Gill Parker and Trish Jones. Gill and Trish really are partners in ‘grime’. They stepped forward when it was suggested that Alnwick Civic Society might be the body that would be allowed access to the Tenantry Column’s ‘lion’s enclosure’, in order to clear the litter problem there.  Having checked with the Estates, who issued the requisite permission, the Friends of Column Field was born.

Gill and Trish are both conscientious dog owners and get very hot under the collar when they come across canine fouling. Twice weekly they assiduously clear inside the Column’s railings and, truly deserve recognition.

Trish Jones and Gill Parker received civic awards for their continued commitment to making Alnwick a clean town especially within the ‘lion’s enclosure’.

Jenny MacDowell. Jenny volunteered when the suggestion was made that a prominent and focal point in Alnwick, namely the Gardener’s House garden beside Bondgate Tower, could be much improved.  She took this neglected area and gradually transformed it into an attractive corner garden. This is down to Jenny’s determination and her use of the principles of genteel economy and intelligent husbandry. This metamorphosis has greatly enhanced the iconic entrance to Alnwick’s town centre.

Jenny MacDowell received a civic award for her wonderful transformation of an iconic entrance into Alnwick’s town centre.

Clare O’Donnell. Clare is in charge of the Roots and Shoots garden and is responsible for the ‘Forget me not’ programme for disabled and disadvantaged children.  Clare’s enthusiasm is infectious and it certainly helps the children get involved in the scheme.  She also runs a scheme for 10 schools who have their own plot and are taught how to grow vegetables etc. encouraging them to eat healthily. Not satisfied with all that she also helps the ‘Blooming Well’ group for people with memory problems. She is truly amazing and well deserves this recognition.

Clare O’Donnell received a civic award for her amazing enthusiasm in charge of the Roots and Shoots garden and the Forget me not programme for disabled and disadvantaged children and her promotion of healthy eating to schools.

Tom Pattinson. Tom is a well known character throughout Alnwick and is involved in community and charitable projects. As a gardener he offers horticultural advice though many mediums including writing a fascinating and informative column for the Gazette and a weekly radio broadcast on Lionheart Radio, often bringing a bag of goodies to inspire listeners. Tom can also be found, recorder in hand, interviewing local horticulturists about the sounds of the Northumberland landscape to play on the show.  He is involved in Alnwick Gardening Club where he regularly offers presentations.  He is also a member of Alnwick in Bloom and is always prepared to get his hands into the compost by volunteering at The Alnwick Garden.

Tom is always a positive, encouraging and inspiring influence in Alnwick. He is a founding trustee of the Baliffgate Museum where he still gets involved. He is very personable person at home talking to anyone and communicates eloquently whether on a one to one basis or to a room full of people.

Tom Pattinson received a civic award for his involvement in community and charitable projects throughout Alnwick and his continued dedication and hard work.

The next three awards went to people who are stalwarts of the Alnwick International Music Festival, namely Doreen Coleman, Rachel Robinson and Anne Walton. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Alnwick International Music Festival. It says much for all the volunteers and supporters who have made this possible. The very small committee have worked hard over the years to bring this magnificent cultural event to our town. In wishing to celebrate all that has gone before, the above committee members are nominated because of their consistent membership of the committee.  Planning for a festival begins the day after the day after the previous event finishes. Committee work is very demanding and a great deal of effort is spent on fundraising followed by all of the exhausting logistical and support work in the week itself.

Rachel Robinson received a civic award for her dedication and support of the Alnwick International Music Festival enabling it to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year.

Anne Walton received a civic award for her on outstanding contribution to the Alnwick International Music Festival Committee enabling it to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year.

Doreen Coleman received a civic award for her dedication and support of the Alnwick International Music Festival bring this magnificent cultural event to our town over a long period of time.

The last Civic Award went to Alan Symmonds. In this 40th year of the Alnwick International Music Festival Alan is stepping down as chairman. As I said with the three previous award winners it is the volunteers and supporters who make the festival a success year after year. The committee is a small one and to be chairman takes a lot of dedication, drive and determination.  Anyone who knows Alan knows he has this in abundance.

As part of our celebration of their 40th year it seems only fitting to acknowledge the current chairman of the committee. I see first-hand the pressure Alan is put under during the weeks leading up to the festival and the way he puts the same level of effort into this challenge as he does to every task he undertakes.

Alan Symmonds received a civic award for his dedication to the Alnwick International Music Festival, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and his work as chairman in recent years.

The last three awards went to groups.

Alnwick Christmas Lights Team. The Alnwick Christmas Lights is a completely voluntary group of individuals who give up their evenings and weekends to decorate the town of Alnwick with Christmas Lights every year. The smiles on the faces of the children and grownups when the lights are switched on makes it all worthwhile. This dedicated team work all year around giving a lot of time and effort to put on such a momentous event in the town.  Most people who I speak to assume that the Alnwick Christmas Lights are a publicly funded display and are amazed when they are told that it’s all funded through donations and the hard work of the team to secure these.  Although it’s a one off event and we see just the end result and what we don’t see is the all year round effort it takes to achieve it.

Preparations begin in May each year and reach a fairly frantic conclusion just before the switch on in late November. Indeed one of the highlights in the Town’s calendar is the switch on of the Christmas Lights and everyone eagerly awaits the date being announced.  It takes a minimum of 6 weeks to erect all displays and shop lights in and around Alnwick and not surprisingly they always have a long list of requests for new displays.

Alnwick Christmas Lights Team receive a civic award for their dedication and unstinting hard work in giving Alnwick year after year the most impressive Christmas Lights display in the whole county.

Halifax Team (Alnwick branch). They truly made a day make a difference. Lead by Stacey Burgess and Jonathan Park the office turned out in June last year and converted a trodden and disregarded stretch in Greenwell Road into a herbaceous border. With their energy, wielding of mattocks and other ground breaking tools, the team changed a grim prospect into a charming long border in one day. This extreme volunteering was complemented by Jonathan’s initiative in gaining funding for the planting under the aegis of the Lions and The Alnwick Garden. The Halifax team since has also been instrumental in planting and establishing the funding of spring bulbs on Column Field. All these projects have immensely added to Alnwick’s floral displays.

Halifax Team (Alnwick branch) received a civic award for their continued hard work and dedication to make Alnwick a more attractive place to work and visit.

Simulator and Support Flight School of Aerospace Battle Management RAF Boulmer. The award winners carried out numerous community projects in Alnwick over the last year but primarily lending support to the ‘Alnwick in Bloom’ Campaign. The volunteers have supported numerous key initiatives, such as clearing the flower beds next to the Greenwell Road car parks, enhancing the area around the Bus Station by removing rubbish and overgrowth, and removing invasive plant species from around the War Memorial and at Column Field.

They made major contributions to tasks that need plentiful man power. Last year all the Column Field kerbs were revealed again after many years of dormancy, putting back an elegant structure to the paths of this park. Greenwell Road verges at the back of Bondgate Within properties were stripped of established, tangled undergrowth and abandoned stonework. The Bus Station was attended with a thorough and penetrative litter pick. None of these operations were of a congenial nature and the RAF squad tackled them all with humour and operational efficiency.

Simulator and Support Flight School of Aerospace Battle Management RAF Boulmer received a civic award for their brilliant attitude, hard work and dedication, especially improving the key spot of Column Field, helping make Alnwick a more attractive visitor location.