Oscars of Walsall are awarded – and the Mayor is humbled

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By Walsall Advertiser | Thursday, November 29, 2012, 09:20

FROM sporting achievements to an inspiring teacher and those who make a difference to their communities – the Mayor of Walsall has honoured a host of local shining stars at this year's Civic Awards.

Councillor Dennis and Mayoress Kath Anson were joined by popular historian and broadcaster Dr Carl Chinn and a galaxy of community stars for the ninth annual Mayor's Civic Awards – known as the Doras – at Banks's Stadium last Friday (November 23).

Seven awards were presented to deserving winners with two worthy local heroes collecting a special Mayor's Award.

Cllr Anson said: "The Civic Awards are a humbling occasion as we all take time to reflect on the selfless contribution that people make to this borough.

"We are fortunate enough to have some truly amazing people in our borough and I'm delighted that the efforts of some of them have been recognised in this way.

"I also want to thank all the companies who sponsored the event and made it possible. Their support is invaluable."

The winner of the Young Citizen of the Year Award was 17-year-old Jessica Watts.

Current holder of the 'Miss Teen Walsall' title, Jessica picked up the award for her work in encouraging and supporting young people in her role as a young ambassador for the Mayor.

"I wasn't expecting to win – it was a lovely surprise," said Jessica, who has been working with bereaved young people and organising fund-raising events.

"But everyone nominated has done so well."

Walsall's Outstanding Sporting Achievement Award, sponsored by Hill International, was given to two worthy winners.

Rachel Unitt, 30, from Bentley, who plays football for Birmingham City Ladies, has won her 100th England cap. She now wants to set up her own football academy in Walsall.

"I just want to keep getting the message out there about ladies' football and this award is recognition of that," Rachel said.

Also winning the award was Paul Bates, an open water swimmer who has undertaken fund-raising challenges with Big Rick's Swim Team, founded in 2008 in memory of friend Mark Rickhuss, aka 'Big Rick'.

The angina sufferer passed away when he suffered a fatal heart attack after trying to swim the channel.

Paul, aged 44, said: "I've lived and worked in Walsall all my life and I'm chuffed to win an award, especially at my age!"

But 83-year-old Gordon Turner proved there is no age barrier when it comes to winning awards after he came top in the Walsall's Creative Spirit category, sponsored by Chamberlin and Hill Castings Ltd.

"I'm overwhelmed," he said.

Mr Turner, chair of the Walsall Society of Artists, was recognised for his efforts in encouraging people of all abilities to become involved and embrace their love of painting.

Shire Oak School's Matthew Lloyd proved top of the class, walking away with Walsall's Inspiring Teacher Award, sponsored by Walsall College.

Matthew, who is moving on from the Walsall Wood school, was recognised for the work he does supporting students with special educational needs, helping them towards obtaining their GCSEs.

Accepting his award he said it was "absolutely amazing". "I'm just me and I love my job," he said.

Walsave Credit Union, which provides ethical financial support to anyone who lives and works in the Walsall area, was named winner of the Walsall's Community Contribution Award, sponsored by Walsall Housing Group (whg).

Walsave works closely with organisations including Wincred, whg, the Citizens' Advice Bureau and Walsall Children's Services, Serco, and encourages 'Young Savers' schemes in schools and colleges.

It also supports people that would otherwise be ignored or overlooked and raises awareness of issues such as loan sharks.

Walsall's Green Award, sponsored by Barhale Construction, was given to Maria Gilling, principal of Walsall Adult and Community College.

Maria said: "There's a very strong business case for environmental sustainability so that resources are targeted more effectively.

"Most people are very environmentally-aware at home but not as much in the workplace and we're committed to encouraging acknowledgement and responsibility for the benefit of our 8,000 learners."

There were double celebrations for Gordon Turner, who also went on to scoop Walsall's Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Amey.

Mr Turner said his motivation was "bringing art to other people" and he thanked those who nominated him for his second accolade of the night.

The first Mayor's Award went to chair of Pleck Residents' Association, chair of the Friends of Pleck Park and chair of the Kingley Club, Steve Moult.

The Mayor said: "This gentleman works many hours to improve the area he lives in and cares about.

"He has sought and been successful in securing funding for community projects and no matter what he has done for the local community, he has never asked for any recognition.

"In my opinion, the Mayor's Award shows just how much we appreciate all that he does."

The second Mayor's Award went to former Councillor Bill Madeley MBE, described as "a friend and colleague" by the Mayor.

"I'd have to stand here all night and read notes as thick as War and Peace to cover everything that Bill has done for his communities over the years," the Mayor said.

"During his 40 years as councillor he served on and chaired a number of council committees and sub-committees before retiring this year.

"To name just a few of his achievements, he initiated the lottery bid for Darlaston Baths and secured a grant of £5.5 million, he was instrumental in the building of Darlaston Library and he played a significant role in the development of Old Hall People's Partnership Centre, the Bentley Over-60s Club and Darlaston Sons of Rest.

"It gives me immense pleasure to be able to present him with this."



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