Pride of Devon 2014 Winners'
Nineteen Devon heroes from all walks of life have been honoured at the inaugural, annual, Guildhall Shopping Exeter Pride of Devon Awards, organised by Radio Exe.
The prestigious event, held to coincide with the Devon County Show, took place at the show’s Vice Presidents’ and Sponsors’ Pavilion on Friday 23rd May. Hosted by Mark Tyler, the lucky 19 and their guest enjoyed a glamorous ceremony among the movers and shakers of the area (and Radio Exe presenters too), before collecting their award.
Grandparents, carers, neighbours, teachers and military heroes were some of the reappearing awards, this year also saw five new additions including boss of the year and the environmental award, opening the awards up to even more people of Devon.
Grandparent of the Year
Sponsored by: Stephens Scown Solicitors
“Providing exceptional service because we care”
Everyone loves their grandparents. And that love shone through in every entry for the Grandparent of the Year. We had nominations from listeners who were clearly very young. Others who were parents themselves and wanted their own mum or dad honoured for the help they provide now that they have children of their own. And then the judges read the touching nomination from Emily Hill, all about her nan Carol Pomeroy.
Unfortunately, when she was just eight years old, family difficulties mean that Emily could no longer live with her mother. And her father lives in Yorkshire. That’s when you really need a great grandparent. And that’s what Carol is. Emily went to live with her nan. And they haven’t looked back. Emily says Carol’s put up with all her teenage antics, driven her hundreds of miles so she can see her dad and has stuck with her through thick and thin.
It’s special being a grandparent. But there are special grandparents too. People like Carol who, at a time when arguably she should be taking it a little easier, brought up another young child. That’s what makes her our Grandparent of the Year.
Neighbour of the Year
Sponsored by: Bovis Homes
“Bringing quality homes to Devon”
Good neighbours don’t always get noticed. Bad neighbours are the ones we read most about. The ones who play loud music, row and make you wonder what their dodgy guests get up to. A good neighbour is a godsend. And that’s Sally Gaydon.
Sally keeps an eye on octogenarian neighbour Joan in a rural part of Devon. When you’re elderly and rural, especially if you’re not very mobile, you need other people. Joan’s fortunate in Sally, who’s daughter Alice nominated her. Sally cares around the clock, said Alice. She does all the normal things good neighbours do, such as keep an eye on the house if Joan is in hospital, or pops round with milk or the shopping. She picks up Joan’s prescriptions. She makes sure the house is warm. The Pride of Devon judges thought that the nature of the relationship between Joan and Sally stood out. A good neighbour cares. And Sally is the best there is.
Carer of the Year
Sponsored by: Mecca Bingo
“Come and play at Mecca”
It takes a lot to be a carer. And it sometimes means that those ones we care for find it difficult to write the nomination. However Shane who lives in central Exeter, had no problem nominating his carer Kathy. Shane has a mental health issue and needs regular support. Katherine is the one who’s there for him. Not only is she kind and caring, Shane says she understands him. She sets him goals. She makes sure he can work to achieve them. Furthermore, Sean is gay. In this day and age, that shouldn’t make a difference, but Shane’s mental health issues make that another thing that sometimes needs explaining. And who’s there to support him? Katherine Irwin. Carer of the Year.
Community Contribution Award
Sponsored by: Atass Respect
“Celebrating company and community partnerships”
This was one of the most hotly contested categories this year, with nominations for lots people who spend time raising money for many good causes. But after much debate, the judges chose Hannah Reynolds as the worthy winner. Hannah is the chairperson of the Exeter Community Centre on St David’s Hill.
Not too many years ago, the community centre was in a sorry state and, despite its popularity as a community focal point, was falling into disrepair. Devon County Council decided the best thing was to sell it to developers. It needed someone with energy, enthusiasm, commitment and an ability to rouse disparate groups into action to pull together an action plan. Hannah’s talents as a fundraiser, cheerleader, diplomat, cajoler and, at times, enforcer, has ensured that the council didn’t take the cash and run. Working with councillors, officers, planners and community groups, a small group of people, under Hannah’s chairmanship investment running into millions of pounds, ownership of the building transferred to the community. There’s still much to do. For family reasons, Hannah no longer lives in St. David’s. But she still works tirelessly for Exeter Community Centre. That deserves recognition.
Public Service Hero Award
Sponsored by: The Travellers Rest
“The pub Devon’s proud of”
In many ways, Steve’s is both a sad and an uplifting story. He first featured on Radio Exe when his daughter Sarah was in need of a double-lung transplant. He wanted to raise awareness of an issue that was critical to his family and he did it with vigour and accomplishment. Something that those who have got to know him respect hugely. Sarah sadly died, leaving a young family, and a committed father on a mission.
Despite the pain the loss of a child must cause – and the Gazzards had already lost a son – Steve stepped up, not down. Most weeks he can be found in Exmouth’s Magnolia Centre, or possibly the Strand, encouraging people to sign the petition
for organ donorship to be opt-out, not opt-in, a method that is proven to make more organs available for transplant. In short, it saves lives.
Steve does this despite his own health issues – and other commitments. He’s registered blind. And he’s the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Exmouth Town Council. So he is a public servant in the civic sense. And a relentless campaigner on organ transplant issues.
Volunteer of the Year
With the Devon County Show
“Devon’s big day out”
Like the Devon County Show, which is in its 25th year at Westpoint, the Exeter Blue Anchor Majorettes have a silver anniversary. Founded in 1989, the troupe began for a very practical reason. Sarah’s daughter Ezme wanted to be a majorette and needed a club to join. It meant starting one.
Today the troupe has nearly 50 members aged between five and 21. Ezme’s still involved, as an adult helper rather than a majorette herself. But Sarah hasn’t handed over the batten. A quarter of a century on, she’s been giving up two evenings a week to run practice and training session. Every two weeks, there’s a competition to enter. Julie Chudley, who nominated Sarah, wrote: “She instills discipline and pride in the girls and welcomes all abilities.” Julie’s own daughter is in the troupe. She says:
“I love majorettes. I love Exeter Blue Anchor. I love Sarah and Ezme.”
Teacher of the Year
Exwick Heights Primary School
This was a tremendously difficult category to judge. Not only was last year’s outstanding winner, Mr Mann, nominated again, lots of other new candidates popped up too.
After much debate, the judges eventually decided on Ms Christina Willett of Exwick Heights Primary School, Exeter, who was nominated by one of her former year six pupils, John Cornish. John says he was very quiet and lacked confidence when he joined Ms Willett’s class. But then everything changed for him. “We all thought she was a bit crazy,” wrote John, “and she worked us very hard.”
John is now in his first year at high school, but hasn’t forgotten what Ms Willett’s did for him and his class in his final year at Exwick Heights. Despite his nerves, the boy lacking in confidence at the start of the year took the lead role in the end-of-term production of Charlotte’s web. “I felt very proud but without her help I would never have thought I could go on stage,” John says. “Anyone else who has her as a teacher should be proud."
Doctor or Nurse of the Year
Doctor at the Westbank Practice
Year after year, this is an exceedingly difficult category to judge, as every single doctor and nurse must be admired for devoting their lives to aiding and bettering the well-being of those in need.
Dianne Austin’s nomination, however, stood out thanks to a heartfelt message in which she credited the life of her son to one individual: Dr Rachel Mann. Dianne explained that the the decisions made by Rachel, and the immediacy at which she arrived at them, are without doubt what lead to her son receiving the right treatment at the right time. Thanks to the care and professionalism displayed by Dr Rachel Mann, Dianne’s son is now on the road to recovery. Dianne Austin, added: “She is an amazing doctor to all of her patients. She give you time if you need it and is always there for you. A truly deserving lady.”
Rachel Mann trained in Leicester and moved down to Devon in 1991 to continue her training to become a GP. She went on to become a partner at the Westbank Practice in 1998 and has worked there ever since.
Community Sport Award
City Raiders Youth Football Club
Just a few years ago, City Raiders didn’t exist. But Nathaniel Parker wanted to play soccer out of school for a proper youth team, in a league. With no nearby available option, it fell to dad Adrian to swing into action. One school playing field – originally at Woodwater Academy, the former Walter Daw Primary School – one group of enthusiastic children, and few basic bits of kit and City Raiders came into being.
If success can be measured by the number of children wanting to join, it didn’t take long. City Raiders was formed in April 2011. By the start of the new season just a few months later, three youth teams were registered in the Exeter & District Youth League. Now based at Wonford playing fields, five teams play league matches each Saturday. His wife Janet, who nominated him for a Pride of Devon award, says: “He works tirelessly sourcing and buying kit, doing the administration, finding sponsors, applying for grants, managing one of the teams, planning tournaments, and organizing the end-of-season presentation night and even the Christmas party. Family life revolves around youth football and we all thoroughly enjoy it.”
Parent or Guardian of the Year
Nine-year-old Louisa Taylor has a special dad. So special that she nominated him for a Pride of Devon award. Mark Taylor works 15 hours a night, she said. “Then he takes me to netball on Wednesdays after school and he takes my brother to football training. When mum works, dad picks me up three days a week. At weekends we go for walks or out in the car as a family. He is always a bit tired, but he keeps going every day to look after us and mummy.” If that sounds like a normal father, that’s what makes him a special parent in Pride of Devon. He’s special to Louisa. And she took the time to nominate him.
Young Farmer of the Year
Sponsored by: Bicton College
“Supporting agriculture across Devon and the South West”
Chairman, Devon Federation of Young Farmers
Sponsored by: Interline Building Suppliers
“The independent builders merchant with the big repuatation”
Exeter no longer has a speedway track. So Henry has to travel to Somerset, where he is member of the Somerset Rebels. That doesn’t mean we’re not proud of him in Devon. And that’s why he’s our child of achievement.
Sponsored by: W2 Estate Agents
“The highly recomended East Devon Estate Agents”
Paul Keating, CrowdCanDo
Since leaving Exmouth Community College, Paul has worked in two types of theatre. For the NHS in surgery. And as a stage manager for events; setting up a business with friends to bring more live music to Devon. He left the security of full-time employment to develop his digital and entrepreneurial skills, starting with online marketing. CrowdCanDo takes care of ticket sales for events that have achieved their crowdfunding campaign. Many people voted for Paul; suggesting an entrepreneurial push of which many business leaders would be proud. One wrote of how Paul had helped him with his own business. Others talked of his ambition and determination. Good luck to CrowdCanDo.
Military Hero Award
Sponsored by: Solve IT
The Royal Marines
In October 1664, 1200 soldiers were recruited to serve in the Fleet. They were known as the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot. As the Duke of York was The Lord High Admiral, it became known as the Admiral’s Regiment. And there was much to do. 1664 was the year England fought the Dutch, annexing part of the East Coast of North America known as New Amsterdam. With the Duke of York as Lord High Admiral, this was renamed New York.
Today we know the group that began as the Admiral’s Regiment as the Royal Marines. During World War Two some 80,000 men served in the Royal Marines, operating in sea and land formations. The Royal Marines Commandos were formed in 1942. Everyone who becomes a Royal Marine trains here in Devon, at the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, the only training establishment that trains to a standard by which recruits are read to deploy directly on operations right away. We’re proud that the Royal Marines and the training centre are in Devon, and central to our community. Tonight we congratulate the Royal Marines on 350 years of achievement and commend their long history of courage, sacrifice and service.
Young Employee or Apprentice of the Year
Sponsored by: Exeter College
“Working in partnership with employers”
apprentice, Radical Remaps
Nominated by his employer, Radical Remaps, which improves vehicle performance through engine management software, Jamie Taylor is a young man with high standards. Jamie is an apprentice, who works for the company four days a week, and attends college to study for an NVQ level 3 in body repair. So he enjoys the benefit of a working environment, doing something he enjoys, whilst also gaining the theoretical insight into his craft too.
His employer Chris Mines says: “He’s become an invaluable member of staff whose work is finished to an extremely high standard usually only found in people with many years’ experience in the trade. He is punctual, reliable, honest and hardworking, a combination of qualities that seems harder to find these days.”
Sponsored by: Coastal Recycling
Devon Wildlife Trust
Devon Wildlife Trust is the only independent organisation that works across all aspects of wildlife conservation in the county. With 40 nature reserves in Devon and 35,000 members, it has been doing sterling work for more than half a century. Devon Wildlife Trust owes much to its volunteers, but volunteers can’t operate in isolation. They need coordinating, directing, influencing if their enthusiasm and hard work is to be focused on areas that really matter.
Entertainer of the Year
Sponsored by: Crealy
“Devon’s Great Adventure Park”
Devon’s got the Exe Factor. We know this, because the ten million people who watched the final of last year’s X Factor will have seen much of Devon in the show. That’s thanks to teenage singer Luke Friend. The 17-year-old from Teignmouth suffered audacious auditions, a gruelling bootcamp and all of the live finals before making it to the series finale the week before Christmas.
And in that very busy week, he came back to Devon, visited his old school, performed at Exeter University’s Great Hall and joined Radio Exe at its studios for a live interview. He took all this in his teenage stride; performing with aplomb and entertaining the nation along the way. Unusually for an X Factor finalist, Luke doesn’t just sing. He plays an instrument and writes his own material too. Having been on the X Factor tour, he’s now signed with a top management company and is working on his first album.
Few people have focused as much positive attention on Devon in the past year as Luke Friend and for this he wins his award.
Boss of the Year
Sponsored by: Ivor Doble
“Doble for diamonds”
Chief Executive, Devon Air Ambulance Trust
Bosses often get a hard time; usually – and understandably - behind their backs. Boss of the Year proved to be a tremendously difficult category in which to attract nominations. The people who nominated Helena Holt clearly felt passionate about putting her name forward.
Devon Air Ambulance is a high-profile charity in the county, but it’s taken much hard work to reach this point from the start of the organisation in 1992. The Trust now has two helicopters, a small team and an army of supporters. It is much loved and so is its chief executive.
Team member Melanie Stevens wrote: “Helena inspires us to be the best we can whilst at work. She promotes the ethos that there is no such thing as a silly question or a bad idea. I’ve never had a job before where I’ve felt like I am working with people who care about each other as much as at DAAT. We refer to the DAAT family. This is because of the way the charity is operated by our senior leaders,
led by Helena.
Guildhall Shopping Pride of Devon Award
Sponsored by: The Guildhall Shopping Centre
“Here for you”
The Guildhall Shopping Pride of Devon Award is given in recognition of either lifetime service or an event or achievement.
Now a man of leisure, retired from a service in which he’s given decades of his life. On Boxing Day 2013, he handed over the badge of office as coxswain to his successor and thus ended a long and distinguished career.
Tim joined the RNLI as a crew volunteer in 1980 at the age of 21. Three years later he became the full-time mechanic. During his career, he worked under 15 divisional and deputy inspectors. In fact, when he hung up his life jacket, he was still Exmouth RNLI’s only member of staff. It is a service that relies on an army of volunteers. Over 34 years, Tim became nothing if not an experience, committed expert. He is the one who ultimately ensured the safety of the boat and the crew.
Exmouth and the wider Devon coast enjoys the protection of the RNLI. And its values – trustworthy, dependable, selfless and courageous are personified in Tim Mock. Tonight, we salute him. And we thank the RNLI for heroes like Tim Mock.
Pictures Courtsey of Daniel Smith Photography