22 January 2024


What an amazing evening we all had at The Centre, Chapel Lane, Swanage on Friday 19th January, celebrating the town's wonderful volunteers, and local businesses, and all that they do for our community.
There were 34 nominations in total, and the Awards Panel, consisting of Cllr Tina Foster, Town Mayor, Cllr Chris Moreton, Deputy Mayor, Rev Ian Bird, Team Rector, Swanage & Studland Ministry, and Niki Clark, Planning & Community Engagement Manager, had a very difficult job deciding the winners. Panel members felt that all of the nominees had made a difference to the local community, and all were deserving of an award.
📣 And the winners are…..
⭐️ANDY KNILL⭐️- local artist, who a few years ago set up the ‘Art for Fun’ project. Dedicated, friendly and welcoming, offering a safe space and free workshops/ materials for all to use, making a real difference to the health and wellbeing of participants, improving self-confidence and mental health. His workshops also encouraging children to have an interest in art, using different types of materials, and all for free. Provided colourful artwork on the sea defence blocks last year, which became part of an art trail called ‘Flooding Swanage with Art’.
⭐️PAUL MORRIS⭐️ – Paul works at the local Co-op, and always has a smile and friendly greeting for everyone. He also undertakes lots of volunteer activities, for local charities and fundraising, collecting for Lewis Manning, Swanage Carnival, kindly running errands, offering to fetch local business owners coffee, post their mail, engaging with customers and visitors, collecting milk bottle tops for guide dogs charity, and generally just helping others, all with a smile on his face.
⭐️SUSTAINABLE SWANAGE GROUP⭐️ - project established in Swanage in 2019 as part of the town’s ongoing efforts to become a more sustainable community, and protect our precious environment. The group, consisting of many local volunteers, supported by the Town Council, work on and provide invaluable positive support to environmental projects and initiatives in the town. Hosting free information events/open evenings for the local community, on a wide variety of subjects, and has undertaken wildlife surveying, a footpath survey, and a new project Swanage Waterways – to name but a few!
The group has been instrumental in some fantastic projects including:
• The setting up of the Peveril Point and The Downs Local Nature Reserve.
• Tree planting projects at Prospect Green, the High Street, and Victoria Avenue.
• Establishing the Swanage Community Pantry at Herston Village Hall, and also the ‘Repair Café’.
• Picnic in the Park at Herston Community Field.
• Supported the setting up of a local Swift project (which is now the Dorset Swift Group – birds!)
• Swanage Tree Trail and supporting literature.
⭐️SWANAGE MUSEUM AND HERITAGE CENTRE⭐️ - volunteers who work away tirelessly in the museum, and the storage/records unit, sometimes behind the scenes, sharing their passion and knowledge of the town and its heritage, and their enthusiasm shines through. Advice and guidance is on hand regarding the historic trails around the town, and expertise and knowledge is passed on to support local events and displays regarding historic milestones and occasions. A big thank you to this group for their dedication and hard work recording and organising the history of our wonderful town for future generations to come.
⭐️DAVID & JEANETTE HARRIS⭐️ - owners of the Ballard Stores for over 30 years, a much-loved and popular business, for their service to the community, always with cheery smiles/friendly faces, and a kind word for all, offering a helping hand/lending a listening ear to those in need, the shop was a treasured community service. Provided invaluable support throughout the pandemic. Customers used to come from far and wide for their beautiful flowers, shrubs, plants/vegetable plants. They have now retired and will be sorely missed.
⭐️MARIANNE PARKER, THE WOOL & CRAFT SHOP⭐️ - comments received remarked on the friendly service, provided with a personal touch, and that nothing was too much trouble. Marianne’s Mum, Mrs Ann Figg, was also in attendance, having run the business before Marianne. A news article from the Daily Echo in August 2007 celebrated the shop’s 100 years of selling wool, the business having been in the same family since 1907, that is a very impressive 117 years. Maybe more impressive is that the business has remained in the same family since that time. What an amazing achievement! Notably, the business, along with staff and customer support, makes handmade goods for charitable causes, including Dementia Friendly Swanage, poppies for RBL, Salvation Army, Ukraine, Africa, and over 500 handmade blankets donated to the Herston Village Hall Wellbeing Café.
⭐️THELMA DEACON⭐️ – for her tireless voluntary services to the local community, on many different voluntary projects, in particular as a leading campaigner in the successful fight to save Purbeck’s ambulance car, spending many hours talking to members of the public to raise awareness of the campaign, tending the war graves in Northbrook Cemetery, as a member of the Sustainable Swanage Group, and creating a giant poppy each year on Swanage Pier, as well as being a volunteer for the Pier – even being spotted as an elf at Christmas! Thelma also hosts a popular, very informative, local radio show.
⭐️SUE VINCE⭐️ – volunteer Walk Leader for the Swanage Walking for Health Group since 2016 – providing welcomed morning walks for the older, and not so active members of our community, providing company, coffee, and a friendly ear. Every Tuesday Sue can be found walking the seafront, sometimes out to Peveril Point, providing all the advice and encouragement a new walker needs to build fitness at a pace that is right for them.
⭐️SUE WHITTON⭐️ - described as an ‘unsung hero’ for many of the events that happen annually in the town. Always willing to help any fundraising event with her catering, in particular catering for both the Diamond and Platinum Jubilees, which alone mounted to 1,200 food boxes. Retired NHS Senior Sister, coming out of retirement in 2020 to undertake Covid vaccinations at Wareham Hospital, throughout the pandemic, and the boosters. Serves on Swanage Hospital League of Friends, and passionately believes all clinics must be kept at Swanage Hospital to keep it going.
⭐️VALERIE BURDEN⭐️ – for over 25 years promoting guiding (Brownies and Guides) in the Purbeck area, serving as both District and Division Commissioner on a number of occasions. Helping many young ladies over the years develop life skills and self-confidence, making friends for the rest of their lives. When the land the old guide hut on was sold for development, Valerie found a new home for the Guides in Bell Street, negotiated for its purchase, consulted with architects, and pushed the project forward. Valerie would probably have put a hard hat and hi-viz on given half the chance! One nomination form commented: “Valerie is an inspirational leader”
⭐️BRIAN NORMAN⭐️ - member of Swanage Regatta & Carnival Committee for 34 years, Chairman for 4 years, and President for 10 years, and a key member of the Carnival’s continued success, and had been instrumental in putting committee procedures in place. During his time as President the Carnival raised over £250k for local charities and good causes. Brian has also been involved with the local rowing club, and has coached the youth rowing team. What an amazing asset to the town, and what an amazing achievement.
⭐️DAVID COOK⭐️ - Swanage Town Band, bandmaster, conductor and musical director, for 17 years. David received a sizeable number of nominations, and the appreciation for all he has given to the local community shone through the comments on nomination forms. During his time the band has gone from strength to strength, with endless concerts, raising many thousands of pounds for local charities, encouraging musicians of all ages and abilities, and progressing many young musicians. David has decided, as he has a ‘big’ Birthday this year, that it is now time for someone else to take over the reins. Comments on nomination forms included:
“David’s personality, drive, and enthusiasm in the pursuit of music, will be greatly missed.”
“Unsung hero of live music in the town.”
“A truly Christian, inspirational, talented man.”
“This has been a wonderful team to belong to, where we all feel valued, and enjoy making music for the town and visitors to enjoy.”
⭐️SWANAGE TOWN BAND⭐️ - on the back of Mr David Cook’s award, the Awards Panel felt that the Band also deserved recognition for all that they do for the town, the joy that they bring through their live concerts, and for their financial donations to charities. Thank you for the music!
Cllr Tina Foster, Town Mayor, also gave special mentions to the following who had also been nominated:
⭐️THE OLD STABLES DELICATESSEN & EATERIE⭐️ – a newly established business, welcoming, consistently providing excellent customer service, an eco-friendly shop, accommodating individual needs. https://www.facebook.com/.../The-Old-Stables.../
⭐️FRANK ROBERTS⭐️ - for the tireless, and varied, volunteer work he continues to do for the town, in all weathers.
On behalf of the Town Council, Cllr Foster thanked all of the town’s volunteers, and local businesses, for their dedication, energy and enthusiasm. They are at the heart of our communities and, with limited government funding for public services, are crucial to our local towns and villages, and truly make a positive difference from which the whole community benefits.
Cllr Foster also extended a thank you to all the town’s Emergency Services workers, for the positive and tireless work they undertake in Swanage and the surrounding areas for the benefit of our community.
Well done all!⭐️🏆👏🙌
📸Photo credit: photographs provided by/courtesy of Swanage .News