High Sheriff award winners 'an inspiration for us all'

Banbury Cake: High Sheriff Graham Upton High Sheriff Graham Upton

THEY go the extra mile to make a difference to the lives of others.

And the efforts of 17 workers and volunteers have been recognised in Oxfordshire’s High Sheriff awards.

Nominations were made by teams and individuals and cover all aspects of life, from promoting community integration to working with the homeless, promoting diversity and supporting communities.

The county’s High Sheriff Graham Upton will present them with the awards at a special ceremony at County Hall on Tuesday.

Prof Upton said: “These are all people who have had a high impact on the lives of others over a sustained period of time and have been recognised by other people as inspirational and as setting an example for others to follow.”

Rachel Bayne meets this year’s recipients...

FRAN GARDNER

Banbury Cake:

  • Fran Gardner

SHE proudly says she enjoys every day she spends with Rose Hill residents.

Community worker Fran Gardner has helped run cookery classes and a junior youth club in the area.

She said: “It’s an enormous honour to be chosen for this award.

“I feel really humbled and can honestly say that I enjoy every day that I spend on Rose Hill with residents.”

ALISON BAXTER

Banbury Cake:

  • Alison Baxter

After 10 years as the chief executive of Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), Alison Baxter has been commended for services to the charitable sector in Oxford.

Mrs Baxter, 63, said: “In my role I was privileged to work with many exceptional people who make a real difference to the lives of those most in need.

“I feel my own contribution was very modest in comparison.

“I am, of course, very pleased and honoured to have been nominated for a High Sheriff’s award in recognition of my work, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of the very talented and hard-working team at OCVA.”

WYON STANSFELD

Banbury Cake:

  • Wyon Stansfeld

EMMAUS development manager Wyon Stansfeld has been recognised for his role in the construction of a community house in Cowley.

The 58-year-old has volunteered with refugees and asylum seekers in the city, as well as working with the homeless charity.

He said: “It's an honour to get an award but I am also only one of many, working as a team.”

PAT LAKE

Banbury Cake:

  • Pat Lake

He was a Chipping Norton town councillor for 30 years and served as mayor on three occasions.

Pat Lake, 75 said: “I feel extremely honoured at being presented with the High Sheriff’s Award.

“I get involved in other activities for Chipping Norton, the town that I love. I now organise and oversee the erection of Christmas trees for the town council every year and am also involved in the town council’s welfare charity committee. I love the theatre and one of my pleasures is sailing.”

YASMIN SIDHWA

Banbury Cake:

  • Yasmin Sidhwa

STAFF and volunteers at Pegasus Theatre in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, work with thousands of young people every year.

And the team nominated head of creative learning Yasmin Sidhwa, who has developed arts programmes and worked with youngsters for more than 20 years.

Ms Sidhwa, who also helped to establish Mesh, Oxford’s bi-annual international youth arts festival, said: “What was really touching was that I was nominated by the whole team at Pegasus.”

She said it was important for young people coming to the theatre to feel valued and added: “It is a place where they can feel at home and where you don’t have to be a star.”

CLAIRE DOWAN

Banbury Cake:

  • Claire Dowan

WITNEY’S Base 33 charity, which helps vulnerable young people, was named Oxfordshire’s charity of the year.

Its director Claire Dowan, 44, is thrilled at the award and said: “To receive personal recognition through the High Sheriff award is a huge honour and I look forward to the ceremony.”

IAN CALLAGHAN

Banbury Cake:

  • Ian Callaghan

Oxford’s Porch Steppin’ Stone Centre started as a small drop-in cafe for the homeless and vulnerable and now offers a day centre with activities and meals.

Prof Upton praised the work of the award-winning former director of the centre Ian Callaghan.

He said: “Ian was described by his team as having worked quietly and tirelessly and always with great humility not only to create a physical centre but also to equip members with basic skills such as cooking and budgeting, to enhance their self-esteem and to enable them to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder out of dereliction, homelessness and unemployment.”

PAUL STANCLIFFE

Banbury Cake:

  • Paul Stancliffe

HE recalls digging trenches to put electricity and telephone cables underground.

And now, the efforts of Sydenham Parish Council chairman Paul Stancliffe have been highlighted.

Having served as a parish councillor for more than 30 years and chairman since 1985, the 78-year-old said: “I feel very grateful to receive the award, which I feel should really be shared with our various clerks, who have done most of the work over the years.”

ADAM O'BOYLE

Banbury Cake:

  • Adam O'Boyle

ADAM O’Boyle helped set up the Oxford Hub which works to empower students.

Since it was founded in 2007, the group has set up a network of student-run conferences and training sessions involving more than 4,000 students.

The 28-year-old said he was honoured to receive the award. He said: “It shows the value and appreciation of all the thousands of hours of time and energy that students put into their communities each year.”

ROBERT PARTRIDGE

Banbury Cake:

  • Robert Partridge

BELL-ringing in Shiplake chimed all the better after Robert Partridge ran a project to replace the bells in Shiplake Church and promote good practice.

Prof Upton said of the award winner: “Robert Partridge has been involved in the development of a number of other village projects, including the design of a new newsletter for the village, the creation of the parish council’s first website and the modernisation, upgrading and operation of the Memorial Hall.”

Mr Partridge said: “I feel honoured. The award is not only for me, but for the team of people who have worked on the projects.”

NICK FENNELL

Banbury Cake:

  • Nick Fennell

He used his marketing skills to work on the Adderbury Village Neighbourhood Plan and develop the Adderbury Village Appraisal. Nick Fennell also started the Friday Club and served on the organising committee to ensure the village’s celebrations to mark the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees were a success.

AZIZ RAHMAN

Banbury Cake:

  • Aziz Rahman

AZIZ RAHMAN has offered leadership to the East Oxford Bangladeshi community, supported charity events in his restaurant and worked with the Cowley Road carnival.

Mr Rahman said: “I love Oxford and this is my home. I'm a passionate believer in hard work and dedicated public service. I've been fortunate enough by the grace of Allah to serve not just the Bangladeshi community but the community as a whole, both locally and nationally. I get immense pleasure from doing community, social and charity work.”

MERYL SMITH

Banbury Cake:

  • Meryl Smith

SHE has championed village schools and rural communities over the years.

And now Meryl Smith has been praised for her work with the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC).

The 65-year-old said: “I am honoured to receive an award marking my work to support local self-help action in our wonderful rural communities during my 34 years with the ORCC.”

GEORGE SMALL

Banbury Cake:

  • George Small

George Small has organised events and activities for the Wallingford Club for many years and enjoys dressing up patriotically for St George’s Day celebrations.

Mr Small is also the chairman of Centre 70, a member of St John Fellowship and the Wallingford gardens society committee.

Mr Small, 44 said: “It was actually quite a surprise when we got the email.

“I am very pleased, and so is the whole family.”

MARK LAMBERT

Banbury Cake:

  • Mark Lambert

He has overcome personal challenges, including drug addiction and homelessness, and now works for Oxford’s Aspire.

Employment and development worker Mark Lambert, 45, said: “My job can be stressful and very challenging at times, but I would not change it for the world.

“Having overcome some of the barriers and issues myself, Aspire allows me to give something back to the community.”

TOM SMITH

Banbury Cake:

  • Tom Smith

MINSTER Lovell parish councillor Tom Smith is known for helping people with practical tasks such as fixing gates and painting fences.

The 89-year-old has served on the parish council for more than 40 years and said: “I would like to say I am retired but intend to keep going as long as my health will let me.”

JON ADAMS

Banbury Cake:

  • Jon Adams

He has been a stalwart supporter of village life in Milton, a bell ringer and a churchwarden for more than 20 years.

Jon Adams, 72, said he was very pleased with the award for his work and thanked his wife Diana and son Ian for their support.

Manor Farm in Milton has been in the Adams’ family for more than 70 years and John and his son Ian have both worked on it.

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