Community Group of the Year - 2017

Community Group of the Year - Sue Rawson and Sandra Forman

Community Awards 2017 - Community group winner

Citation

Both Sandra and Sue have done work in Dunholme for over a decade. Their main project throughout the year has been to raise as much money as possible through running monthly jumble sales, organising and running dances and New Year parties and any other fundraising events they could think of.  

Not only does the money raised benefit local children (most recently money has been raised to provide the local primary school with new outdoor equipment), local and national cancer charities, but it also helps to fill thousands of shoe boxes that have been sent abroad for children at Christmas.   

They have organised and run many hundreds of events and raised thousands upon thousands of pounds over the years whilst ensuring they have a very willing and amenable band of helpers yet they still continue to be very much hands on people.

The amount of time that these ladies give up (as well as their garages that are constantly filled with everybody else’s jumble to sell at their events) is uncountable and everyone within the village knows their names and exactly what they do.

Dunholme Parish Council awarded their Community Volunteer of the Year Award a number of years ago to Sandra and Sue who were nominated by a number of local residents and feel that they now deserve to be recognised at a district level.

Runners-up

RAF Ingham Heritage Group (represented by Geoff Burton, the founding member)

RAF Ingham Heritage Group have over the past few years come together to build a lasting memorial to Polish Airmen based at RAF Ingham during World War Two.

All volunteers, these people have secured lottery funding, money from Poland and West Lindsey and Lincolnshire County Council to build what is now recognised as Poland Bomber Crew Memorial here in West Lindsey.

The Memorial opened in the summer of 2016 with dignitaries, families and surviving crew men and the Polish Ambassador.

They are also refurbishing a Nissen hut and are showing school children around and educating them on the bravery of bomber air crew from Poland who fought for our country.

The result is that this is now Poland’s national memorial and the profile of West Lindsey has been raised internationally and it receives a number of overseas visitors who spend time and money in our district.

RAF Ingham Heritage Group are an outstanding group of volunteers who have built and cemented a link between West Lindsey and Poland and further afield.

I cannot think of anyone else who deserved to be recognised more than this group.

Saxilby Library Volunteers (represented by Susan Gravill and Chris Green)

In 2011, Lincolnshire County Council chose Saxilby as one of the pilot libraries to trial the extension of opening hours by using volunteers and then later to run it as a volunteer-led community library. The existing library was only open for 16 hours per week in an old and dilapidated building.

Saxilby with Ingleby Parish Council got involved and the “Friends of Saxilby Library” volunteers were set up in late 2011. There were 12 potential volunteers, who received basic training from LCC’s library service.

The library moved to a newly refurbished home at the St Andrews Community Centre in October 2012 and the ever-expanding group of volunteers received further training on the library management system plus essential training covering health & safety, confidentiality, safeguarding, equality & diversity, freedom of information and data protection.

There are currently 21 active volunteers, who operate for 15 hours per week over 5 days and new volunteers are always welcomed. The library is open for a total of 70 hours per week, with customers having access to the public PCs, a self-service kiosk for the issuing and return of books and a direct telephone to the LCC Customer Service Centre for any additional help.

The volunteers have a wide variety of background, skills and experience and operate on a rota basis, which they manage themselves. There are usually between 2 and 4 volunteers available at a session and the various groups have established good friendships. In the past two of the younger volunteers used their experience gained volunteering in the library to further their employment opportunities.

The volunteers now have access to a cut-down version of the library management system, as per the other community-run libraries in the county. They are supported by a Library Development Officer from Greenwich Leisure Limited who now run the library service for the LCC. The Parish Council now provides the volunteer supervision.

With volunteer support, the provision of free Digital Champion sessions in the library can now continue, despite WLDC funding ceasing at the end of March.

It is very much a team effort. All the volunteers have the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions at the regular volunteers’ meetings, which the Library Development Officer and representatives from the Parish Council attend. There have been a number of ups and downs but the volunteers have soldiered on.

The contribution of this group of volunteers is unmistakeable – with the volunteers previously featuring on BBC Look North. The library has proved to be very successful and has achieved far beyond the original expectations of increased opening hours, increase borrowing, new members and interactions.

It’s difficult to quantify but since the group started in 2012 and based on an average of 2.5 volunteers per library session, they have provided over 8,500 hours of volunteer time. If the volunteer time is calculated at £11 per hour (based on a figure previously provided by the volunteer sector) then they have provided just under £90,000 worth of volunteering to the community.

Without the ongoing dedication of this band of volunteers, Saxilby and the surrounding area could have quite easily lost its permanent library provision. The community has a lot to be thankful for and this group of volunteers deserve to receive the due recognition for it.

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