Monmouthshire volunteers celebrated at GAVO awards evening
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
We recently had our first Volunteer Awards ceremony in Monmouthshire since before the Pandemic began. We couldn’t be more proud of our wonderful volunteers and were so very happy organise an event to thank those who do not ask for thanks.
Awards presented with Highly commended and Winners:
Trustee & Director
This category was presented by a close partner of ours, who is a prime example of how to look after and support volunteers, Marianne Piper from Bridges Centre.
Our winner of the Trustee and Director award was Joanne Postle! Joanne has been the chair and driving force behind Caldicot Musical Theatre for over 10 years. Her love for musical theatre and vision for performance for all has transformed the drama society to what it is today, a very inclusive and dynamic group.
Our Highly Commended Volunteer was Ann Jones from Mind Monmouthshire. As a trustee since 2015, and Chair since 2018, Ann works tirelessly and diligently to support the organisation and is an outstanding example of a of a trustee and chair.
We will be announcing, congratulating and thanking our successful volunteers and those who supported us during this event for the next few weeks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:00pm.
Winner - Joanne Postle
Highly Commended - Ann Jones
Our second category of the evening was Sport, which was presented by our very own Health Social Care and Wellbeing Partnerships Officer, Miranda Thomason!
Our winning Volunteer of the sport category was Kieran Gething! Kieran set up Abergavenny Boxing Club and provides a really inclusive facility for people to train. Kieran’s nominator said, “He has given a place for individuals with troubled backgrounds and problems a safe place to train, and accommodated individuals with mental health and learning difficulties to train appropriately.”
Our Highly Commended volunteer was Nathan Thomas! Nathan set up walking football teams for men and women in Caldicot. Vic, one of Nathan’s participants had this to say about his contribution: “Nathan’s Walking Football Team has enabled me to get back to the game I have always loved. I am truly grateful for his time and effort in building up something and giving his time to the community.”
Congratulations Kieran and Nathan, we hope you know the positive impact you have had on those you support!
Winner - Kieran Gething
Highly Commended - Nathan Thomas
With so much wonderful green space in our county, it’s no surprise the quality and quantity of nominations that came in for the Environmental award were so difficult to shortlist. So…we had to have three nominees, presented by Melville Centre for the Arts Director, Penny Simcock.
Our Environmental winners were Mardy Park’s Growing Space’s Volunteers! Growing Space in Mardy Park's is a project which provides horticultural therapy, woodwork and art therapy to its participants. Volunteers help to grow organic vegetables and bee friendly flowers from seed and work hard to maintain the beautiful grounds. Upon one of GAVO’s visits to Mardy Park's, one of the volunteers simply said “Growing Space has saved my life.”
Our Joint Highly Commended Volunteers were from Friends of Linda Vista Gardens and Friends of Bailey Park! Both groups are committed to looking after the wellbeing of the community and creating areas of biodiversity for pollinators, birds and small animals. The spaces are much more than a just a ‘park’ and is used for an endless list of activities and celebrations.
The efforts of these volunteers are enjoyed by so many people and animals too. Congratulations!
Winner - Mardy Park’s Growing Space’s Volunteers
Joint Highly Commended - Friends of Linda Vista Gardens and Friends of Bailey Park
Welsh Heritage & Culture
The Welsh Heritage and Culture award was presented by our Adult Volunteering Officer, Bethan Warrington. Bethan said, "I loved the chance to present an award and personally thank volunteers who ensure our culture is central to our vibrant communities and protect our heritage and culture for future generations."
Our joint winners were Hughie Cousins and John Kent who have been volunteering to support the restoration of the Severn Princess Ferry! Hughie and John have given endless hours of their own time, completing tasks that are physically demanding and dirty, in all weathers with no complaints. Without them, the Princess would not be in its current condition.
Our highly commended volunteer was Joan Banyard. Joan has been supporting the Melville Centre for the Arts since 2017, beginning with organising the theatres 60+ year old wardrobe. She then moved on to helping develop a diverse ability drama group. Her nominator, Penny said “Joan is a mainstay at the Melville. She is a real rock, consistently supportive, enabling, good humoured and much appreciated by everyone.”
I loved being able to give these wonderful volunteers the recognition they deserve. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to you all.
Joint Winners - Hughie Cousins and John Kent
Highly Commended - Joan Banyard
Health and Wellbeing
Our Health and Wellbeing award was created to celebrate those volunteers that help us with some of the challenges that life can present, and was presented by someone who does this daily, Rachel Embury from Growing Space South Wales.
Our joint winners were Jim Newcomb and Valerie Burch. Jim volunteers for many projects but was nominated by Marianne Piper from Bridges. He has a particular gift of supporting people with dementia and has been described as an angel by one of the families he is supporting. Marianne said, “Few people work harder to make the lives of others better and the Volunteering for Wellbeing project are so very lucky to have him as one of our team.”
Valerie has volunteered for Homestart Cymru for over nine years and has supported numerous families to reduce isolation and improve their emotional wellbeing and resilience. Families warm to Val and often their friendship continues lon after the typical 6-month support period.
Our Highly Commended volunteer was ABUHB’s End of Life Companions. These volunteers offer support and companionship to people at the end of their life who may be at risk of dying alone. They are there for people in their final moments. What an incredible and heartfelt thing to do.
Joint Winners - Jim Newcomb and Valerie Burch
Highly Commended - ABUHB’s End of Life Companions
The International award acknowledges those who have made a contribution to welcoming our new arrivals to Monmouthshire. The nominees were the Ukraine Resettlement Clinic Volunteers and Aaron Reeks.
Our International winner was Aaron Reeks! Aaron has been very proactive and instrumental in collecting clothing and resources and delivering them to people in Ukraine on more than one occasion when the conflict started. Aaron and the Caldicot Town Team have since been actively supporting refugees to access food and toiletries. They have also organised and run various events to engage and welcome our new arrivals from Ukraine.
Our Highly Commended nominee is The Ukraine Resettlement Clinic Volunteers. They are the smiling face and welcoming engagement team that many of the people accessing these clinics need after all they have been through. One member of staff said “The volunteers approach all situations caringly and sensitively, sharing their knowledge of the local area and useful tips for the refugees and their families. Their level of compassion is heart-warming for us to observe.”
Parent and Child
This award acknowledges parents who volunteer to improve the lives of children within our communities and go the extra mile for our next generation. The nominees were Magor Primary School PTFA and the PEP Midwives.
The Winner was Magor Primary School PTFA! Magor Primary School PTFA is run by a group of volunteers who raise funds to support the school and enhance the children’s learning experience. Their mission is to make their school the best place for children to learn and thrive and to become confident, healthy contributors who care about their communities and each other.
Our Highly Commended nominees were The PEP Midwives! The PEP Midwives, Kate and Heidi are fully qualified midwives who offer weekly walks for pregnant and new parents to meet and talk about any concerns or worries that they may have about pregnancy, birth or their new baby. They are wonderfully kind and supportive and offer this service free to new parents and parents to be.
Winners - Magor Primary School PTFA
Highly Commended - The PEP Midwives
This award celebrates those that help the environment by reducing food waste, while also helping people in need.
Our Winner was Annie Hartwright from Cwtch Angels! Annie founded Cwtch Angels in 2016, and over the last couple of years has developed a community fridge, which redistributes excess food from supermarkets, that would otherwise go to waste. Annie gives up her time tirelessly to run the community fridge, helping approximately 120 people a week, and this is just one of the many support services of Cwtch angels.
Our Highly Commended nominees were Sheelagh and Cath! Sheelagh and Cath are loyal and devoted volunteers at Abergavenny Community Trust. They freely give their time and support to the kitchen, offering their culinary skills in abundance. Sheelagh and Cath help prepare food excess and save it from landfill, turning it into nourishing food ready for the community. In doing so, they have saved hundreds of kilos of food from being wasted.
Winner - Annie Hartwright
Highly Commended - Sheelagh and Cath
Youth/High Sheriff Award
Young people make a significant and positive impact on society, helping us shape our communities. This award recognises the incredible efforts of our younger volunteers in Monmouthshire and was presented by GAVO's very own Youth Volunteering Officer, Chris Irving.
Our Winner was Dylan Allman! Dylan is Monmouthshire’s Hedgehog Champion and volunteers for Hedgehog Street. His aim is to help raise awareness of the plight of one of the UK’s most loved mammals, and to take action to secure their future. Since discovering hedgehogs in the garden at 13 in the first lockdown, he has worked tirelessly in between his school studies by responding to urgent hedgehog rescue calls, giving talks to community groups, creating an award-winning film and by sending out his ‘Be Hedgehog Aware’ stickers, and much more.
Our Highly Commended nominee was Tom Wall. Tom volunteers at Abergavenny Tennis Club and helps to run the Friday Junior session. It’s a very sociable session, inclusive to all and Tom works very hard to set up the session, run activities and offers to do more hours to support other sessions. His nominator, Carys said “Tom is so encouraging to the younger children and they feel much more confident at trying tennis because of him. He is caring and models kind behavior to others. He is a role model for persistence at sport and gives back what he’s learnt to others.”
Winner - Dylan Allman
Highly Commended - Tom Wall
This award was created to celebrate the lifelong commitment of an individual who has dedicated many years of their life towards making a difference in their community.
The Winner of this award was Jeremy! Jeremy has recently left Abergavenny after living there for 40+ years. He has made a significant impact by dedicating his life to making a difference in the community both socially and environmentally. Jeremy led by example and is an inspiration to everyone who knows him. He was involved in a multitude of projects, including Abergavenny Community Trust over the years. He is perhaps best known for his commitment to sustainability and the environment. One of his many nominators said “I would love to see the town expressing its appreciation to him for his role in the community.”
Winner - Jeremy
Inspirational - Presented by His Majesty's Vice Lord Lieutenant of Gwent Andrew Tuggey
This was a very special award for volunteers who the judging panel felt was a true inspiration to us all.
Our Winner for this award was Mike Fuller! Mike has been heavily involved in developing the Cornfield project. This is a volunteer lead community initiative that has led to a green space being created in Portskewett with the aim of improving the wellbeing of residents in the area. Mike is well loved by all the volunteers he works alongside and many people have said how much the space has improved their mental wellbeing. Mike was the driving force along the way despite his own health challenges.
Our Highly Commended nominee was Bob Stevenson! Bob has given his time freely to volunteer with the Farming Community Network charity for many years. As a retired vet, his skills, experience and compassion are unsurpassed. Bob is tremendously well respected within the farming community and has supported countless farmers through very challenging times. Bob has been a pioneer and an inspiration to us all.
Winner - Mike Fuller
Highly Commended - Bob Stevenson
Alongside all of our wonderful awards, we also had some amazing entertainment from two local performers, The Sunshine Singers and Cxmmi.
The Sunshine singers are based in Abergavenny and are led by Hattie Jenkins. They are a very open and inclusive choir and no experience is necessary. For further information, feel free to contact them at: email@example.com
Cameron Martin known as Cxmmi is a very talented local singer and songwriter.
Both the choir and Cameron very generously donate their time and expertise to local events and celebrtions, and we would like to thank them for taking the time to perform at our awards!
We would finally like to thank our wonderful comperes, Isla Arendell,ZoëPerry and Rachel Knight. Isla and Zoë from TogetherWORKS presented the first half of the awards. They were incredibly professional and their beautiful friendship was clear to see, which brought a real warmth to this community event. Rachel from Monmouthshire Housing Association brought fantastic energy to the event and we particularly enjoyed her impromptu singalong of 'Walking on Sunshine', inspired by our entertainers, The Sunshine Singers!
Congratulations to all our winners and highly commended and a big thank you for your continued commitment to volunteering in Monmouthshire!
We look forward to doing it all over again next year!