Leamington Rotarians and Kingsley pupils recognise people's community spirit with awards

Rotarians have joined forces with pupils from a Leamington school for the first time to recognise people's contributions to their community.

Rotary Kingsley Community Awards L-R: Tessa Morton, Lianne Kirkman, Sidney Syson, Chloe Walsh, Town Mayor Cllr Ann Morrison, Ala Uddin, Chair of WDC Cllr Jane Knight, Barry Andrews, Debbie White, David Greenwood, Cheryll Rawbone, Jo Bailey, Heather Owens.

The Rotary Club of Royal Leamington Spa’s Community Spirit Awards are now in their second year but members decided this year to open up the awards for pupils and students from the Kingsley School - which hosted the awards ceremony last Thursday evening - to put forward their own nominations.

Eight people were awarded overall with four winning nominees taken from the club’s nominations and the other four having been put forward by Kingsley.

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The winners from the Rotary Club nominations were Lianne Kirkman, Cheryll Rawbone and Sidney Syson - all from Leamington - and Debbie White of Warwick.

BBC Radio presenter and Kingsley parent, Jo Cameron, who recounted her own volunteer work experiences to stress the invaluable contribution that volunteers make to the wellbeing of so many people.

Lianne was recognised for her “inspirational work” since she set up the charity Helping Hands in 2013.

It runs a soup kitchen for the homeless on three days of the week, and provides items such as carpets and furniture, house appliances, utensils, food and clothing, for those in most difficulty.

Its drop-in centre at its Gloucester Street shop provides advice on managing money, drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues.

The Rotary Club said: “Lianne works tirelessly for Helping Hands and continues to make a marked difference to those most in need of help locally.”

BBC Radio presenter and Kingsley parent, Jo Cameron, who recounted her own volunteer work experiences to stress the invaluable contribution that volunteers make to the wellbeing of so many people.

Cheryll was nominated for her long-term and dedicated service to the Friendship Project based in Lillington.

Formed about 30 years ago, the charity aims to develop friendships between members and disadvantaged children in need of support because of their family circumstances.

More than 1,000 children from across the county have benefitted from its work and Cheryll has been its project secretary since its inception, having also recently been appointed as its chairman.

The Rotary Club said: “Cheryll has been a steadfast and leading light in the development of a very important local service to children with certain special needs.”

Sidney, from Leamington, is a regular and dedicated participant in the Night Shelter project which provides food and shelter for homeless people at Radford Road Church.

She is also a Street Pastor, listening to and caring for people in Leamington town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

An active trustee of the Leamington Shop mobility charity for more than four years, Sidney has recently been appointed its chairman.

The Rotary Club said: “Sidney has an impressive and wide ranging track record of working consistently for others in many different situations over many years.”

Debbie was nominated for her various charity activities against a background of her own disability.

She has a congenital disability, known as Usher syndrome type 2, which causes both partial deafness and markedly reduced vision.

She has been coordinating fundraising events for Fight For Sight for over more than 20 years - raising hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Rotary club said: “Debbie has been at the forefront of raising funds for Fight for Sight for many years. She is clearly an impressive fundraiser and she continues her efforts, full of fun and enthusiasm.”

Kingsley School gave a Community Spirit Award to one of its own students last week.

Year 12 student Chloe Walsh received the award for spending her own money to make sandwiches for the homeless and handing them out around Leamington.

The school said: “We are incredibly proud of all that Chloe has achieved and for what her actions can teach us as a community.”

Jonathan Penny was nominated by his daughter, Hannah of year 8, for devoting a great deal of his time to a successful project with Stratford Sharks Swimming Club.

Award winner Tessa Morton, who is the mother of Year 11 pupil Poppy Whittaker, is a qualified counsellor specialising in autism.

She set up weekly drama and social skills sessions for children with autism, which she has run for the last ten years.

Restaurant owner Ala Uddin was nominated for his award by year 7 pupil Sophie Clarke after a fundraising event he hosted raised £15,000 for the Stratford Cancer and Eye Hospital Appeal and Alveston Primary School.