Firms urged to get on board

AN annual community awards scheme is undergoing a revamp — and local businesses are urged to get on board.

Morpeth Town Council has traditionally presented up to a handful of special Citation Awards every year to reward those individuals who have given outstanding service to their community.

But next year the scheme will be changed to the Morpeth Civic Awards.

There will be eight categories to recognise achievement and dedication in particular fields, acts of bravery and the contribution of businesses to the town.

And to match the enhanced status of the honours, the council hopes to up the value of the awards from £40 to around £200 each.

However, the increase will rely on the generosity of local businesses and individuals, who are being asked to sponsor the gongs.

Coun Ken Brown said: “The premise behind the original proposal was that now that we are running a Mayoralty as opposed to just having a council Chairman in place, the proposal is to upgrade the value and the quality of the awards, hence the re-branding of Morpeth Civic Awards rather than the Citation Awards.”

The eight categories for honours are Townsperson of Morpeth and Young Townsperson of Morpeth to reward outstanding service to the community, the Mayor’s Award for acts of bravery or courage, the Achievement Award for individuals or groups that have provided exceptional service for a long time and shown dedication in their field, the Sports Award and the Leisure and Culture Award.

The Business Award will recognise businesses that have created jobs in the town or contributed in other ways and the Community Award honours organisations who work for the benefit of the area.

Last week the council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee agreed that people should be approached for sponsorship and to send letters to businesses and organisations outlining the scheme and requesting support.

Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor will also be willing to present the proposals to organisations in person.

Coun Nic Best said: “We have been giving about three awards a year of £40 each and now we are proposing to upgrade the value of the awards five times.

“We can’t go back to the original Citation Awards because we have already accepted this policy so we have two ways forward — either we look for sponsorship of around £200 per award, or if we don’t get sponsorship then it would have to be £40 an award.

“It is important that we go ahead with this whole awards revamp because we have told people we were going to be doing it, but the value of the awards depends on how much sponsorship we get in.”

He added: “We do need to proactively go out and get sponsorship and this could be presented as an attractive thing for organisations and businesses of the town to sponsor.

“I don’t think it is going to be impossible to get sponsorship, particularly with the good reputation of our current Mayor and the previous Mayor.

“There could even be sponsorship from individuals.”

The council hopes to secure sponsors by the end of November.

It is envisaged that the awards will be presented in a special ceremony, or included as part of the Mayor’s Civic Ball.

Anyone wishing to get involved with the scheme should contact the council on 01670 514314.