Proud moments for the heroes of the community

The pride of Morpeth has been rewarded for services to the community as the town’s top civic honours were dished out.

Morpeth Town Council presented the Civic Awards during its Annual Assembly last week to recognise people, businesses and community groups who have worked to enhance the area.

Morpeth Civic Awards'The Mayor of Morpeth Nic Best presenting the Young Townsperson of the Year Award to Bridget Donaldson

Morpeth Civic Awards'The Mayor of Morpeth Nic Best presenting the Young Townsperson of the Year Award to Bridget Donaldson

Mayor Nic Best, who handed out the honours during the ceremony at Morpeth Town Hall, paid tribute to the winners and nominees.

He said: “It is another year showing what a wide and richly diverse community life and service we have in the town.

“All of the winners and the nominees deserve full praise and credit.”

Prizes were awarded for Community, Business, Leisure and Culture, Sport, Achievement, Young Townsperson and Townsperson of Morpeth, as well as the special Mayor’s Award for Bravery or Courage.

COMMUNITY AWARD (sponsored by Heighley Gate Garden Centre)

The award is presented to an organisation that has worked for the benefit of the Morpeth community. There were three nominations, with a public vote to decide the winner.

The nominees were:

l Greater Morpeth Development Trust Arts and Culture Group

The group is responsible for setting up and running the popular monthly Morpeth Community Cinema, and organises visits of Northumberland Theatre Company to the town. It also runs the annual Picnic In The Park.

Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan – Plan Preparation Group

Volunteers have spent hundreds of hours preparing the consultation draft for the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, including text, maps and images. The group has collated an evidence base for the document, which if accepted, will set the local planning framework to shape Morpeth and surrounding parishes for the next 15 to 20 years.

l Morpeth RAFA Club

The club supports ex-service personnel and the community, providing a meeting place for members to socialise. It is also involved in events such as Armed Forces Day, the Battle of Britain commemoration service and Remembrance Sunday parade.

WINNER: Greater 
Morpeth Development Trust Arts and Culture Group.

GMDT Arts and Culture Director Frank Rescigno said: “It is a great privilege and surprise to get this award. It is especially nice when it is voted for by the public, who recognise the things that have been going on in the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.

“Our aim is to try to improve the quality of life in the town in various ways. The Morpeth Community Cinema has been going for four-and-a-half years and what we have now is a successful event that is supported by the people of Morpeth.”

BUSINESS AWARD (sponsored by Sanderson Arcade)

The award recognises a local business that has created jobs, nurtured skills or invested in making Morpeth a great place to live, work and conduct business.

The nominees were:

l Cafe des Amis, Wendy Smith

The cafe was established in Newgate Street about eight years ago with one member of staff. It has since moved to larger premises and transformed a derelict area at the rear to create an outside dining area, and now employs ten staff. Last year, the business achieved a Good Food Award – one of 92 eateries to obtain it out of 200,000 eligible.

l The Health Hut, Nadeem Shah

The pharmacy has become a hub of the community and is particularly beneficial to the residents of St Christopher’s House and Renwick House, who have built up a trustful relationship with Mr Shah and consult him about their health issues. He has a friendly and innovative approach, encouraging the same in his staff. Last year, the business was named Independent Pharmacy of the Year in national awards.

l Morpeth Motaparts

The business was nominated for its good, old-fashioned customer service approach. Nothing is too much trouble and it does its utmost to ensure customer satisfaction.

WINNER: Cafe des Amis, Wendy Smith.

Mrs Smith said: “It is lovely to win this award. It is very important because it is a local award and my business is for local people.

“I never imagined it would be so successful. We had to move premises because we couldn’t fit everybody in, then we had to make the larger premises even larger. We get a lot of locals coming in, but also people from all over the region.

“It is hard work, but very rewarding, and we have got a fantastic team of staff.”

LEISURE AND CULTURE AWARD (sponsored by Rutherford and Co.)

The award is given to a person or group who has excelled in cultural, artistic or entertainment work, bringing recognition to Morpeth.

The nominees were:

l Alistair Turnbull

Mr Turnbull plays the fiddle for the Mayor’s Charity. He is also a long-standing supporter of the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, and has contributed to lots of other community musical events over many years.

l Barbara Waldie

As a member of the Morpeth Matters Facebook group, Mrs Waldie led a project to stage a photographic exhibition to raise funds for Henry Dancer Days, which supports families of children with osteosarcoma. More than 500 copies of the photographs were ordered at the event.

WINNER: Barbara Waldie.

Mrs Waldie said: “I feel honoured. It was a privilege to organise the photographic exhibition and I would like to thank all of the administrators of the Morpeth Matters Facebook page and all the members for their support and help. I was absolutely delighted with the enthusiasm that people showed.

“All of the award nominees are passionate about Morpeth. We all have that in common, as do a lot of other people in the town.”

SPORT AWARD (sponsored by Schweppes Abbey Well)

The award is for a person or team who has gained significant success or excelled in sporting achievement to bring credit to Morpeth.

The nominations were:

l Keith Jewitt

Mr Jewitt has been a stalwart of Morpeth Town Football Club for some 20 years. He has devoted countless hours as a senior official, as well as coaching juniors. He has also served Morpeth for more than a decade as a special constable.

l Morpeth Rugby Football Club

The Morpeth Stags achieved a County League and Cup double in 2014, while the Colts won the Northumberland County Cup for the second season running. The Colts also gain senior rugby experience by playing occasional matches with the Stags, which provides them with a progressive pathway and helps to sustain the long-term future of the club.

WINNER: Morpeth Rugby Football Club.

Club member Simon Cox, who collected the award on behalf of the club, said: “I think the award is recognition of the large number of players that we have and the success that a range of age groups have sustained over many seasons.

“As far as senior rugby is concerned, this year the first team secured promotion back to the North One East Division. Three out of the five senior teams have won silverware this year.”

ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (sponsored by Morpeth Lions Club)

The award is presented for exceptional service and long-term dedication as a volunteer for a charity or community organisation.

The nominees were:

l Pauline Ferguson

Ms Ferguson is the warden of St Aidan’s Church and plays an important role keeping it open to the community. 
She has close involvement with Stobhill community and pensioner groups, church youth activities and the Stobhill Community Forum, as well as providing church cleaning and maintenance.

l Doug Harrison

Mr Harrison has worked long and hard to support the growth of Morpeth RAFA Club, organising and co-ordinating numerous events and benefits for members and the wider community.

l Geoff Proudlock

The businessman established GR Proudlock in 1967 and joined the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade soon afterwards, becoming Chairman in the early 1980s and leading a campaign to secure free parking. He has run the chamber’s Golf Day for 26 years, raising about £70,000. Last year, he was Captain of Morpeth Golf Club and raised cash for cancer charities. Mr Proudlock has also served in the Territorial Army, rising to the rank of Colonel, and is a past Leader and Mayor of the former Castle Morpeth Council.

WINNER: Pauline Ferguson.

Ms Ferguson said: “We have a lovely church and we are busy now with building a community room so that we can have even more of the community in. I have done this work for quite a while, but have had a lot of support. I have always been involved in the church. I have a passion for Stobhill, I love Morpeth and the community is just wonderful.

“It is lovely to get the award and I will be taking it along to show people in the church.”

YOUNG TOWNSPERSON AWARD (sponsored by Morpeth Town Council)

The award recognises a young person who takes part in community or voluntary activities to benefit Morpeth.

The nominations were:

l Bridget Donaldson

Bridget has been awarded the Dacre Brooch, which is presented to the top female air cadet in the country. She has also served as Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, visited the headquarters of NATO’s Allied Air Command at the US Air Force Base in Germany, completed a diplomatic exchange in Ghana, and has spoken in both the House of Commons and House of Lords. She hopes to join the RAF as a fast jet pilot.

l Dan Larby

Dan was a founding member of the KEVI Space Agency, which has created an observatory for classmates and community groups. He was involved in building the facility, from the initial groundworks to the construction of the sliding roof.

WINNER: Bridget Donaldson.

Miss Donaldson said: “It is nice to have recognition from the town and hopefully other people at school will see that and think that they can achieve something similar. I hope it will inspire other people to do things.

“I’m going to stay in the cadets until I age-out and when I go to university hopefully I can join a university air squadron and then join the Royal Air Force.”

TOWNSPERSON OF MORPETH (sponsored by Morpeth Town Council)

The award is presented to a person who has made a significant difference to the lives of Morpeth residents by showing outstanding voluntary service for the benefit of the community.

The winner was
 Rachael Hogg.

Miss Hogg is an active member of the Neighbourhood Action Group in Stobhill, working for a rational housing development policy. She was also a member of the Lights Out campaign group and helped to organise the Morpeth Matters Photography Exhibition.

Miss Hogg was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

MAYOR’S AWARD (sponsored by Morpeth Town Council)

The award is presented in exceptional circumstances for people showing extreme bravery or courage.

The winner is the late David Tinlin, who founded Drout alcohol support charity. Sadly, Mr Tinlin died of cancer in March, but was told of his award prior to his death when Coun Best presented him with his certificate.

After winning his own battle with alcohol addiction, Mr Tinlin devoted his life to helping others with the problem. Even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer he continued fund-raising and helping others. He was an inspiration and testimony to how people can turn their lives around. Mr Tinlin had been chosen as an Olympic torch bearer for the relay for the London Games in 2012 and earlier this year he donated his torch to the town to inspire others. It was displayed at the awards ceremony, where his mother Margaret and sister Tracy collected his trophy.

Tracy Tinlin said: “It is a great pleasure and honour to collect the award on David’s behalf.”